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South Park Rising
TechCentralStation ^ | 11/14/2002 | Stephen W. Stanton

Posted on 11/15/2002 6:22:37 AM PST by hchutch

A recent column titled "South Park Republicans" challenged conservative stereotypes by suggesting that a many Republican voters are more inclined to watch Comedy Central than the Christian Broadcasting Network. The piece struck a chord. Actually, it struck several. You can read the reaction for yourself by doing a Google search for "South Park Republicans." Responses range from enthusiastic support to outright ridicule.

A few clarifications are in order. First, not all viewers of "South Park" are Republicans. Certainly, not all of Barbara Streisand's listeners are steadfast Democrats. And the concept of South Park Republicans is not new. Back in 2000, an article was published detailing The Inherent Conservatism of "South Park". The term "South Park Republicans" was first coined by Andrew Sullivan.

Some readers rightly noted that there is not necessarily a dichotomy between South Park Republicans and the Christian right. According to the official South Park website, "members of the Christian right have condemned the show for being bad for practically anyone who wants to go to heaven." However, many Christian conservatives agree with their more secular brethren on the issues of smaller government, lower taxes, fewer regulations, and personal responsibility. Indeed, many conservative Christians responded favorably to the article. One reader began her supportive email, "As a twenty-something, conservative, Christian who appreciates the humor of South Park…"

Many readers tried to debunk the existence of South Park Republicans based on a simple equation: Republican minus religion equals libertarian (they insist on a lowercase "L"). The logic is reminiscent of those demanding that "Jews for Jesus" call themselves plain old Christians. (Too many "J" words, evidently.) More importantly, not all South Park Republicans are libertarians. There is no single "South Park Republican" platform. They have different views on drugs, guns, abortion and Social Security. In addition, South Park Republicans are not uppercase Libertarians for one simple reason. They vote for Republicans. In fact, voting Republican is one of the group's two defining characteristics.

The other defining characteristic is a visible disconnect from the stereotypical Republican, an affluent, religious, white, male, moralist. In contrast, South Park Republicans can be any age, any color and any religion. Unlike archetypal Christian conservatives, they do not find much of modern pop culture offensive. In fact, they love it. They enjoy the non-Christian mysticism of Star Wars, the acrobatic violence of Jackie Chan, and the comedic vulgarity of Chris Tucker. The Christian right observes pop culture. South Park Republicans live pop culture, invoking movie quotes in casual conversation far more often than the Lord's name.

In this respect, South Park Republicans are a far cry from Rod Dreher's "granola conservatives." Dreher, who writes for the conservative National Review, admits that he has "a disdain for, or at least a healthy suspicion of, mass culture." South Park Republicans do not disdain mass culture because they are mass culture. Sure, some SPR's eat free-range chicken and organic vegetables like Dreher, but as a group, they are more likely to eat at Taco Bell. To the extent there is an overlap at all, granola conservatives represent a small fraction of South Park Republicans.

Different South Park Republicans often describe themselves as conservatives, libertarians, classical liberals, pragmatists, constitutionalists, or "just your average Joe." However, when election day comes around, they all generally vote for Republican candidates. But their vote must be earned. They are idealists, perhaps even pragmatists, but not party loyalists. In fact, the creators of the South Park TV show brutally satirized the current president in their short-lived series, "That's My Bush."

What's Under the Tent?

South Park Republicans each vote Republican for their own reasons. Some agree with every plank in the party's platform, in spite of having a nose ring and purple mohawk. However, most view Republicans as the lesser of two evils. Due to the quirks of our electoral system, candidates require a plurality to win, not a majority. If Libertarians wrested away half of the Republican votes in every major election, Democrats would hold nearly every seat in Congress. South Park Republicans want to avoid that, even if it means voting for Republicans when third party candidates may better reflect their views.

Democrats are keenly aware of electoral calculus. Long ago, they assembled an unlikely coalition to exploit it. For decades, Democrats have held their multifaceted party together with tape and glue. Today, former Klansman and current Senator Robert Byrd is in the same party as African-American Georgia Rep. Billy McKinney, who blamed his daughter's congressional defeat on a Jewish plot, though he did not mention Jewish Democrats by name, such as former Democratic VP candidate Joe Lieberman. Democrats hold together environmentalists protesting big oil in the same party as the union auto workers who depend on cheap oil and even the trial lawyers that skim 30% from whichever side wins. The Democrats have room for almost everybody in their big tent.

When you lift the flap to peek inside, who will you see in the Republican tent? After looking at the ad hoc membership of the left, it becomes easy to accept the South Park crowd as a viable Republican caucus, numerically dwarfing other factions such as, say, the Log Cabin Republicans. Of course, with congressional control and a sitting president, there must be far more people - and far greater diversity - in the Republican party than Hollywood might have you believe. Hilary Clinton got it half right: The right wing is truly vast, encompassing a vibrant and diverse base holding many different priorities. However, there is no conspiracy; the party is not monolithic.

In fact, the party is evolving rapidly. The newest and youngest members do not look, act, or think like the old guard. Generation X grew up with computers and cable TV. They entered the workforce at the same time as the Internet and embrace technology. They access the information and entertainment they want when they want it. They are individualists, with little patience for censorship or prejudice. Generation Y grew up even later, after political correctness had already firmly taken root. They now rebel against the very institutions, such as racial quotas, that were put in place by the progressives who fought the conservatism of the '60s.

Yet voters continue to see the same gray-haired faces representing the Republican party, in the same suits, with familiar priorities. But that will not last. Political parties are dynamic and they evolve. The South Park Republicans represent a large and growing caucus, espousing many of the party's core ideals, though rejecting the intolerance and censorship of certain religious elements.

South Park Republicans are very real and candidates should listen. Within two days of publication, the previous column generated email from many self-described South Park Republicans. They included a middle aged mother who finds the TV show tasteless, an economics professor, a blue collar worker, an old Truman Democrat, a naval veteran, a home-schooled teen, several Log Cabin Republicans, a tax lawyer, and a 31 year old, Jewish, mink-coat wearing, politically incorrect woman.

The Republican party cannot hold its current majority without this increasingly powerful caucus. The party can continue to adapt and prevail, or splinter and lose. The great thing about big tents is that they are portable. The Republicans of the future do not have to set up the big tent on the same exact political turf of yesteryear.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bigtent; gop; southpark; southparkrepublicans
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To: hchutch
Myself, I'm more of a "Simpsons Republican."
181 posted on 11/15/2002 9:42:40 AM PST by SerpentDove
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To: dubyaismypresident
I always enjoyed The Critic with Jon Lovitz in the mid-1990's. Another show that I thought was too smart for average tv couch potatoes.

182 posted on 11/15/2002 9:46:50 AM PST by caa26
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To: hchutch
Me likey the way South Park skewers the sacred cows of our culture and roasts them over an open fire. Like good ole Babs for example.
183 posted on 11/15/2002 9:59:58 AM PST by CapedCrusader
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To: hchutch
This is SO Me.
I love South Park, because they are not afraid to skewer anything or anything, even themselves, and are as ANTI PC as one can get.
I'm pretty much the same way.
184 posted on 11/15/2002 10:08:40 AM PST by VERYProGun
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To: philman_36
I think you're proving that you can't spell either. So much for intellect.

My spelling isn't the issue. Don't change the subject when you make a fool out of yourself

185 posted on 11/15/2002 10:13:12 AM PST by rmmcdaniell
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To: Dog Gone
Nice article. Except for this cringer: and even go to the occasional Wrestlemania.
186 posted on 11/15/2002 10:14:45 AM PST by CapedCrusader
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To: GodBlessRonaldReagan
I always thought of myself as a "Ren and Stimpy" Republican!

Would you like to buy some rooober neeeples?

187 posted on 11/15/2002 10:17:01 AM PST by tortoise
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To: hchutch
Democrats hold together environmentalists protesting big oil in the same party as the union auto workers who depend on cheap oil and even the trial lawyers that skim 30% from whichever side wins.

Great line.
188 posted on 11/15/2002 10:18:02 AM PST by dano1
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To: GodBlessRonaldReagan
I always thought of myself as a "Ren and Stimpy" Republican!

Maybe I refer to myself as a "King Of The Hill" Republican like Hank.

189 posted on 11/15/2002 10:23:41 AM PST by Captain Shady
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To: steve50
"I look at libertarians as republicans minus the Pharisee gene"

Too Funny!!! Can I quote you?

Oh, I think I just did.

190 posted on 11/15/2002 10:26:29 AM PST by Lloyd227
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To: dubyaismypresident
"New York City is ready to evacuate if Hillary Clintons a$$ gets any bigger"

Using the words "evacuate" and "Hillary Clintons a$$" in the same sentence - that's 50 demerits for you, mister. And a bill for a new keyboard and the lunch I just spewed all over it.

191 posted on 11/15/2002 10:34:20 AM PST by strela
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To: GraniteStateConservative
Actually Vince invited Bush and Gore onto the show in 2000 to have a small debate.

And after neither showed up the announcers started to rag on them both, and told you they didn't want your vote and didn't relate to the viewers - so the viewers should vote third party.
192 posted on 11/15/2002 10:37:39 AM PST by Mid-MI Student
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To: philman_36
Any Religious belief system forces one to at least suppress some intellectual doubt about the nature of said belief system. For example Christianity and Islam both say that their religious deity is one being, hence this is the suppression of even envisioning multiple deities. Essentially religious belief systems are structures which seek to explain the nature of the world by somehow assuming superior knowledge to those outside a given religion. Unless you believe in science fiction religious people have no more information about the nature of the world than anyone else really does, they just assume they are right and that by believing they won't go hell after they die.
193 posted on 11/15/2002 10:38:09 AM PST by miloklancy
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To: Lloyd227
Welcome to it Loyd, glad somebody enjoyed it! :-)
194 posted on 11/15/2002 10:39:11 AM PST by steve50
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Comment #195 Removed by Moderator

To: weikel
So any of the rest of you want Family Guy back too.

Yes! The Cartoon Network should pick it up.

196 posted on 11/15/2002 10:50:14 AM PST by ThinkDifferent
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To: Constitution Day
South Park Republican BUMP

Where do I sign up for a SPR bump list?

197 posted on 11/15/2002 10:51:47 AM PST by Mid-MI Student
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To: Johnny Shear
This is great information! Now, if we can just get the "ALL OR NOTHING" Conservative Republicans to just stop calling us "RINOs".


198 posted on 11/15/2002 10:53:23 AM PST by GoreIsLove
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To: Mid-MI Student
Ummm, no idea, sorry.
199 posted on 11/15/2002 10:55:56 AM PST by Constitution Day
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To: Bella_Bru
Cartman rules!

Yeah, baby!

200 posted on 11/15/2002 10:58:05 AM PST by Constitution Day
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