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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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Comment #201 Removed by Moderator

To: fissionproducts
You are comparing apples and oranges as there is no physical evidence which directly indicates the existance of a deity.

You have answered your own question if you will only suppress your intelligence long enough to see it. God is by definition infinite. Proof would make Him finite, therefore destroying His existence as God. So, where do you go with that? A paradox or a reminder that there is something beyond our abilities?

If you want to ponder a little more, caution!, it may require unsuppressing your intelligence, ponder existence, not just of yourself and/or God, but as a definition.

See thinking can be fun far beyond this equals that, cause and effect.

202 posted on 11/15/2002 11:14:19 AM PST by Mind-numbed Robot
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Comment #203 Removed by Moderator

To: Mr. Bird
"Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man.... In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive."

--Albert Einstein

One of my favorite quotes. Thanks for posting this!

204 posted on 11/15/2002 11:20:57 AM PST by alwaysconservative
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To: HairOfTheDog


205 posted on 11/15/2002 11:22:11 AM PST by dfwgator
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To: GoreIsLove

Yeah, that's a REAL neat one...Just because I refuse to call Islam a cult and I don't hate ANY Muslim, I belong on DUhhh.

Of course the funny thing about that comment is that I DO post on DUhhh...It's fun shaking the monkey cage while acting as one of their own!!!

206 posted on 11/15/2002 11:25:52 AM PST by Johnny Shear
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To: hchutch; E Rocc
Great comments E Rocc & hchutch, I think I just found my alter egos. Being a "newbie" (but a long time lurker)I was surprised to find so many interested in "South Park". (Maybe there really "more like me" and I'm no Gen'xer!!) My sense of humor sometimes draws strange looks from my conservative cohorts but they eventually catch on!!
207 posted on 11/15/2002 11:27:33 AM PST by The SISU kid
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To: TXFireman
208 posted on 11/15/2002 11:31:24 AM PST by Jonx6
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To: Johnny Shear
I get the same crap on various issues. Because I don't think gays are evil, I support pederasty and bestiality. Because I oppose the War on Drugs, I'm a pinko.
209 posted on 11/15/2002 11:38:56 AM PST by GoreIsLove
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To: Mid-MI Student
Well we got Linda's vote probably.
210 posted on 11/15/2002 11:42:29 AM PST by GraniteStateConservative
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To: GoreIsLove; Johnny Shear
Since we are making confessions, I care about the environment.
211 posted on 11/15/2002 11:42:32 AM PST by HairOfTheDog
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To: HairOfTheDog
go back to taxachusetts!
212 posted on 11/15/2002 11:44:38 AM PST by GoreIsLove
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To: fissionproducts
If God is infinite than am I part of God?

Certainly! (Well, maybe everyone but you. :-))

Do you think there is a unifying theory (force) of the universe, though yet to be detected and described by science? Einstein did and others did/do. If there is a force/energy that is common to all, and God is greater than even that, wouldn't you be part of that and that part of you? Now if you could tap into that, to feel it and to commune with it, perhaps even use it to affect things, as in prayer, wouldn't that correspond with the general idea about God and the Bible? Just a thought.

213 posted on 11/15/2002 11:47:50 AM PST by Mind-numbed Robot
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To: fissionproducts
Religion requires you to supress your intellect.

That's the least intellectual thing I've read all day. What makes you think that religion requires you to spress your intellect?
214 posted on 11/15/2002 11:51:09 AM PST by Hemlock
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To: steve50
I look at libertarians as republicans minus the Pharisee gene.

Excellent! I'm going to use this line from now on with or without your permission.
215 posted on 11/15/2002 11:52:45 AM PST by Hemlock
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To: fissionproducts
Religion requires you to supress your intellect.

That's the least intellectual thing I've read all day. What makes you think that religion requires you to supress your intellect?
216 posted on 11/15/2002 11:54:44 AM PST by Hemlock
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To: Hemlock
Must admit I like that one myself. I surprise myself sometimes. :-)
217 posted on 11/15/2002 11:55:52 AM PST by steve50
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To: GoreIsLove
Never been there.... do they have nice trees there?
218 posted on 11/15/2002 11:58:09 AM PST by HairOfTheDog
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Comment #219 Removed by Moderator

Comment #220 Removed by Moderator

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