Opinion

‘Don’t Tread On Me’ license plate sales tell tale of the times

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Pundits keep giving the tea party last rites, but if sales of a Virginia specialty license plate are any indication, it’s not only alive and kicking but growing in popularity.

Based on the Gadsden flag popular at tea party events, the plate depicts a coiled snake with the words, “Don’t tread on me,” on a bright yellow background.

Keith Freeman
Keith Freeman. Photo credit: The Virginia-Pilot

“I’m seeing them everywhere now,” said Virginia Beach resident and Hampton Roads Tea Party Chairman Keith Freeman, who has the plate on his pickup truck, according to The Virginia-Pilot.

Although the plate has only been available for 20 months, it’s become one of the most requested items at state Department of Motor Vehicles offices, according to The Pilot. By the end of November, nearly 22,000 Virginia vehicles had the plate, making it the ninth most popular among 200 available.

The Pilot reported:

And the numbers look even better when compared with other, newer license plate styles.

Among specialty tags approved in the past five years, “Don’t Tread on Me” lags behind only the “In God We Trust” national motto plate, visible on roughly 23,500 cars.

Virginia isn’t alone in offering the “Don’t Tread On Me” plates. Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and, of course, Texas have their own versions.

“It is a symbol of frustration … a symbol of disgust with the government,” David Dwyer, a past chairman of the Hampton Roads Tea Party, said. He has the plates on two of his vehicles.

Other Virginia politically-themed plates indicate a swing to the right. Although there are 1,600 “Trust Women/Respect Choice” plates on the roads there, more than three times that number are “Choose Life” plates.

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