NEWS: What Should the Politicians Drive?

March 18, 2009
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0903 03 Z+2010 Volvo XC60+front Three Quarter View
Generally, auto enthusiasts like Europe just fine. We love Germany's autobahn, go crazy over the generally unpatrolled back roads of Spain, dream of mountain passes through the Alps, and lust over those cars we can't get on this side of the Atlantic. However, beyond some Fiats, it seems the next big thing we're likely to get from Europe is the S-word; socialism. How do we know? We've just driven the 2010 Volvo XC60, the Swedes' all-new crossover.
This experience got us thinking and we decided that it would be entertaining to link other political movements with vehicles, just to see how the metaphor carries through.
Starting with the Volvo, your author realized he was driving a socialist vehicle as soon as the crossover's standard City Safety was demonstrated. The feature takes control in low-speed city-driving environs and automatically slows the vehicle when a phalanx of sensors detects an imminent front-end collision. Whether the driver reacts or not, at 19 mph or below, City Safety slams on the brakes to reduce the severity of a collision. From 2-9 mph, the XC60 will likely come to a complete stop before impact. From 10-19 mph, City Safety scrubs off enough speed to significantly lessen the crash's severity.
Hip-Hip-Hooray! Or not.
Is a celebration warranted? Volvo admits that City Safety is designed expressly for drivers who simply aren't paying attention. Does this bother anybody? Just as political socialism enables (and some say tacitly encourages) personal irresponsibility, vehicular socialism prevents Darwinism from removing bad driving genes from the motor pool (or at least having their insurance premiums jacked up). Fortunately, City Safety can be turned off.
If the XC60, a handsome and competent vehicle, stands as the poster child for vehicular socialism, what cars represent other political flavors? Consider these...
0903 02 Z+2010 Honda Insight+rear Three Quarter View
The Green Party
This is an easy one. Green Party members are likely clamoring to get behind the wheel of the all-new 2010 Honda Insight, a beacon of modern, efficient transportation. Their second choice would be the 2010 Toyota Prius, a car they may have chosen first if they didn't already own a previous version.
Because of their general distain for big business - a bias seemly aimed at only American corporations - Green Party members wouldn't be caught dead in domestically-produced hybrids. Too bad. For greenies without sufficient funds for something new, they'll continue driving ancient Volvo 240 wagons, happily spewing more emissions per mile than a Bugatti Veyron, but the Volvo has the right image.
0903 04 Z+2010 Dodge Viper+rear Three Quarter View
The Libertarian Party
Libertarians should all drive Vipers. Built on Mack Avenue in Detroit proper, this Dodge entrusts pilots with 600 horsepower and no traction or stability control programs. The fate of Viper drivers remains solely in their own hands, after all, with great power comes great responsibility.
Libertarians promulgate governmental laissez faire resulting in policy views that minimize government control over life in general; they're anti income tax, anti gun control, and anti just about everything else big government meddles in. Perhaps if more Libertarians actually drove Vipers, they'd add an anti speed limit plank to the platform. That would get our vote.
0903 05 Z+2006 Hummer H1 Alpha+front Three Quarter View
The Michigan Militia
If the Michigan Militia were still as popular as it were after 9/11, their more successful members would drive 2006 Hummer H1 Alphas, the final and best genuine Hummer ever produced for the civilian market. Less successful party regulars would drive surplus HUMVEES retired from active duty. The most popular color would be, what else, camo. In lieu of Hummers, any domestic pickup will suffice. Party status is elevated by heavy-duty models with diesel power.
0903 06 Z+2011 Chevrolet Volt+front Three Quarter View
The Democratic Party
With their dismal approval ratings, Democrats like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi can't be accurately represented by any new car. Every new car produced for the U.S. market runs too well to represent these political animals. Your author believes these Dems are best represented by the diesel-powered Oldsmobiles from the 1980s. These cars were universally despised for their dismal performance, abject lack of reliability, and penchant for blowing smoke.
The 2011 Chevrolet Volt, on the other hand, honestly represents Democrats like President Obama. Even though no one has seen the car perform in real-world conditions, the electric Volt gives hope to many. Unfortunately, like the President's stimulus package, we'll have to wait for the Volt to genuinely hit the streets, and then wait even longer to feel its full impact. If it has one at all.
0903 01 Z+2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid+front Three Quarter View
The Republican Party
Republicans present a special problem. Like James Bond's vanishing Aston Martin from the movie Die Another Day, current Republicans have gone invisible after the elections. That move may have been intentional, but now the GOP can't find the switch to turn off the cloaking device.
If the party ever regroups and reappears, they'll likely want to arrive in something more modest than the Aston or risk furthering the party's fat cat, greedy capitalist reputation. If they have the good sense to ask what vehicle from which to stage a comeback, we'd recommend an advanced domestic like the Ford Fusion Hybrid. This car represents everything that right about the U.S.A.
Unless Republicans do something constructive, the GOP faces the genuine risk of reappearing in Washington behind the wheel of -- horror of horrors -- a Pontiac Aztek.

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