Technically, it’s a specific person – an incredibly persistent troll on these pages who identified himself (herself?) using that handle. After awhile, it stuck – became a general term, describing a mentality (reflexive authoritarian and collectivist) rather than one particular individual.
We all know Clovers.
They constitute the bulk of our fellow Americans. Among other things, they are terrible drivers.
Not so much because they are untalented behind the wheel.
It is because they are controlling and deliberately inconsiderate behind the wheel.
Dealing with Clovers on the road is like dealing with a 300 pound oaf that sort of wanders around your house, randomly stopping and standing in the hallway (or suddenly walking out of rooms, unexpectedly). A Clover expects you to avoid him … and then gets mad when you attempt to maneuver around him.
The classic example of this is the Clover who pulls out in front of you suddenly but then accelerates slowly. He was in a big hurry to get in front of you – but in no hurry to proceed, once he does. He’ll take his time getting up to speed – and will often not even reach the speed limit (which is usually at least 5-10 MPH below the speed at which traffic normally flows).
Either such drivers have a very poor sense of spatial relationships (closing speed, etc.) or they are incredibly inconsiderate.
I vote for inconsiderate.
Proof of this being that the Clover will invariably speed up if you attempt to pass him. Once the passing zone is cleared, the Clover will then slow down again.
This is done out of pure spite. They get their yucks this way.
Some Clovers will go to impressive lengths to prevent you from passing them. Not only will they “speed” (and remember, Clovers claim to hate “speeders”) like Jeff Gordon at Charlotte, sometimes they will (also like Jeff Gordon) use their car to physically block you from passing. They’ll see you about to move into the left lane to pass – and they’ll move into the left lane to prevent you from passing. I have had this done to me many times. Hence it is critical to get the drop on the Clover. Never let him know you plan to pass. Just do it, quickly – before the dull-witted beast has time to react.
If you succeed in passing, the Clover will flash his headlights and honk his horn at you – not unlike an ape at the zoo throwing his own scheisse through the bars. But of course the ape has his reasons.
It’s a mystery, unless you understand the Clover mentality.
A normal person who happened to be a slow driver would be happy that you passed. Because you are no longer following him like a lamprey on a great white and besides, it’s just common courtesy. Why should one care whether another driver is driving faster than you like to drive? If he wants to pass, great! I’ll make it easier for him by slowing and maybe even pulling off a bit onto the shoulder, to signal him that I am on his side and trying to help.
A true Clover will never do that. It is his mission to make it as difficult as possible for you to pass.
Or to merge.
Three lane interstate highway. You are building speed on the on-ramp. A Clover is in the far right lane, adjacent to the on-ramp. There is no traffic to his left (center lane) but the Clover will not move into the center lane to make your merge easier. He will – like the oaf in the hallway – expect you to adjust to him. You will either have to accelerate furiously (risking a ticket, if there’s a revenue collector in the vicinity) or lose your momentum, slow (so as to clear the Clover) and then slot in behind him.
If only Clover would move over, you could merge smoothly – and traffic would flow.
It takes almost no effort – and in no way causes inconvenience – to ease over one lane, to clear the far right lane for the sake of merging traffic. To not leave two car lengths of air between your car and the next car ahead of you in a turn lane (so that more than just you will clear the intersection when the light goes green).
A Clover is defined by such acts of low-rent, passive-aggressive incivility.
Which is interesting, diagnostically speaking.
We (Libertarians) are accused by Clovers of being “selfish” and yet we are not the ones demanding that others defer to us. Yes, we may “speed” – but we do not demand that Clovers “speed,” too. We’d just like to get by the slow-poke and go on our way, thank you very much.
Why not let us?
Our “speeding” does not impede Clovers or cause them any tangible harm (their bruised feelings don’t count). But their refusal to yield – the way they use their cars to force others to slow to their pace – does impede others. Like the oaf in your home who just stands in front of the ‘fridge and will not budge.
The on-the-road equivalent of this being the Clover who is at the head of a quarter-mile-long conga line of cars, yet it will not occur to him to pull briefly off the road so as to let all those cars get by and on their way. The Clover who matches his speed exactly to the car in the adjacent lane, so that neither lane can be used for passing.
Clovers have a rubber yardstick they use to determine what’s “safe” vs. “risky” … It is their personal feelings about what constitutes “safe” and “risky.” The problem here is that there are millions of Clovers and each of them has a different set of personal feelings. Some feel that it’s ok to drive 5 MPH faster than the posted speed limit – but ticket-worthy (because “unsafe”) to drive 10 MPH faster. Other Clovers feel that the yellow advisory signs (as in curves) ought to be as religiously obeyed as a formal speed limit – and that anyone who drives faster than the suggested (but not technically a legal mandatory maximum) velocity is “dangerous.”
There’s no real standard. Just the legislated feelings of Clovers.
An interesting aspect of all this is that Libertarians have a more socially constructive attitude toward driving – toward their fellow drivers – than collectivist Clovers do. The difference between the two – as in politics – hinges on the question of coercion.
Libertarians will do their best not to impose themselves on others – on the road or otherwise. They may try to get around you. But they’d never try to block you in. They’ll drive faster than you. But do not insist you drive at any particular speed except that which you are comfortable driving. Take all day, if you like. Just – please – use your rearview and when you see another motorist coming up behind you who obviously would like to get by… let him.
As practitioners of the live – and let live – philosophy, Libertarians will usually try to avoid conflict.
The opposite of Clovers, who seem to enjoy creating it.
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