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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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Very interesting piece. If anything, this is the sign of a new breed of conservative: rougher, less ideological, more hip. An interesting fusion, I think.
1 posted on 11/15/2002 6:22:37 AM PST by hchutch
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To: Poohbah; PJ-Comix; E Rocc; Miss Marple; mhking; rdb3; Howlin; Congressman Billybob; JohnHuang2; ...
FYI.

Methinks I have found the type of conservative I am - the "South Park Republican."
2 posted on 11/15/2002 6:25:26 AM PST by hchutch
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To: hchutch
And didn't the creators of South Park indicate that they were "Proud Republicans"?
3 posted on 11/15/2002 6:26:47 AM PST by MarkeyD
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To: hchutch
An interesting fusion, I think.

I think so, too. It's a good thing.
4 posted on 11/15/2002 6:26:49 AM PST by BikerNYC
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: BikerNYC; PJ-Comix
I agree.

Quite frankly, I hope POTUS recognizes this - this is perhaps where a LOT of people 18-30 are aligned - not 100% down-the-line conservatives, but they are with us more often than not.

If Bush were to spend ten minutes on the phone with Howard Stern, he'd lock a good part of that vote up. If he were to attend a WWE event, that sort of thing. A few simple things - and most of that stuff is closer to recreation than work.
6 posted on 11/15/2002 6:30:19 AM PST by hchutch
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To: hchutch
Bump!


7 posted on 11/15/2002 6:30:43 AM PST by Leisler
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To: MarkeyD
Yes, to the shock of those attending a People for the American Way banquet.
8 posted on 11/15/2002 6:30:51 AM PST by GraniteStateConservative
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To: Hap; Bacon Man
Dude, that's us!
9 posted on 11/15/2002 6:33:09 AM PST by Xenalyte
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To: hchutch
I always thought of myself as a "Ren and Stimpy" Republican!
10 posted on 11/15/2002 6:34:58 AM PST by GodBlessRonaldReagan
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To: hchutch
Vince wouldn't want the security hassles of a Bush visit. Just having the Rock show up at the convention in 2004 in support of Bush would be plenty. Maybe he could bring Stacy Keibler-- Meow.
11 posted on 11/15/2002 6:35:04 AM PST by GraniteStateConservative
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To: fissionproducts
I guess I too am a South Park Republican. Whew! It's nice to have a "group name" to relate to.

Religion Environmentalism requires you to supress your intellect.

Actually, they both do. I just happen to like your quote. Sort of fits a lot of people.

12 posted on 11/15/2002 6:35:24 AM PST by EggsAckley
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To: fissionproducts
Easy there, Jesse Ventura.
13 posted on 11/15/2002 6:36:30 AM PST by William McKinley
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To: fissionproducts
Religion requires you to supress your intellect.
Since when?
14 posted on 11/15/2002 6:36:57 AM PST by philman_36
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To: hchutch
A lot of good points in the article, but I think "South Park Republican" might be too broad a category to be meaningful. South Park in specific and pop culture in general are popular with lots of different people for lots of different reasons. Watching South Park does not equate to holding some sort of uniform philosophy about the role of pop culture, let alone how that relates to one's political affiliations.

The basic point of this article seems to be identical to what P. J. O'Rourke wrote about in his book, "Republican Party Reptile." The basic notion he was pitching (back in the blessed era of Reagan) was that there was an active and influential breed of conservative younger and cooler than the conservative stereotype suggested. It was true then, and also is true now. I suspect it has always been true. Yet it consistently surprises and amazes the scions of popular culture who assume young means liberal.

15 posted on 11/15/2002 6:40:11 AM PST by Snuffington
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To: philman_36
Since when?

I don't think it has to, but it can, like many other things in life.

Like the Cardinal refusing to look through Galileo's telescope because he knew from his faith how the moon and planets must appear (perfect) and anything he might see through a telescope that might contradict that view would be a deception.
16 posted on 11/15/2002 6:42:00 AM PST by BikerNYC
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To: hchutch
South Park is pretty hillarious... and I am Republican...I guess that counts me in...
17 posted on 11/15/2002 6:42:33 AM PST by maui_hawaii
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: fissionproducts
I look at libertarians as republicans minus the Pharisee gene
19 posted on 11/15/2002 6:44:40 AM PST by steve50
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To: EggsAckley
I guess I too am a South Park Republican. Whew! It's nice to have a "group name" to relate to.

Me too and I eat taco bell as well.

20 posted on 11/15/2002 6:44:58 AM PST by MSgt Smith
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To: philman_36
Religion requires you to supress your intellect.

Since when?

Since never. This attitude is quite dog-eared by now and yet there are still those who imagine that rejection of religion demonstrates intellectual rigor. Some of the most brilliant minds who have ever lived have been devout Christians without ever feeling that their faith required them to "suppress" their intelligence. Quite the contrary.

21 posted on 11/15/2002 6:48:12 AM PST by WarrenC
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To: MarkeyD
Yes, Matt and Trey have said repeatedly that they are Republicans, but for some weird reason the losertarians always claim them as their own.

They do the same thing to Jim Carey who has also clearly stated that he is a Republican.
22 posted on 11/15/2002 6:50:08 AM PST by Hillary's Lovely Legs
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To: Bear_in_RoseBear
South Park Republican ping!
23 posted on 11/15/2002 6:50:12 AM PST by HairOfTheDog
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To: Ramius
South Park Republican ping!
24 posted on 11/15/2002 6:51:05 AM PST by HairOfTheDog
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To: fissionproducts
"How do you know that Bible is the word of God, and not just some made up mysticism?" They can't prove it is the word of God. They take it on Faith.
Then by your own scenario you can't prove that the Bible isn't the word of G_d. You take it on "faith" yourself that it isn't.
Does that make you more or less intelligent.
25 posted on 11/15/2002 6:51:46 AM PST by philman_36
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To: Dead Dog
BUMP!

Check it out man, there talking about us! They've finally found a name for our kind, and I gotta say I like it. South Park Republicans....

Cartman on hippies: "God I hate hippies...."

Cartman on helping the homeless on Thanksgiving: "...isn't it enough I pay taxes?!?!"

Cartman on Democrats: "Democrats piss me off!"

Man, I'm telling everyone out there Cartman is one of the "proudest Republicans" I've ever heard, and dang funny too!

If your conservative, and you can live with edgy humor, you gotta do yourself a favor and check this out. I promise you'll laugh hard, especially at Cartman.
26 posted on 11/15/2002 6:51:59 AM PST by walkingdead
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To: hchutch
Some agree with every plank in the party's platform, in spite of having a nose ring and purple mohawk.

While I have never had a nose ring, i do have body piercings and tattoos and have been known to dye my hair. Purple being my favorite.

27 posted on 11/15/2002 6:52:51 AM PST by Phantom Lord
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To: fissionproducts
Religion requires you to supress your intellect.

I think you have religion confused with pot.

28 posted on 11/15/2002 6:53:00 AM PST by Hillary's Lovely Legs
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To: hchutch
South Park Republican............

..............I'm not.

29 posted on 11/15/2002 6:54:11 AM PST by DoctorMichael
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To: MarkeyD
And didn't the creators of South Park indicate that they were "Proud Republicans"?

Yes they did

30 posted on 11/15/2002 6:54:56 AM PST by Phantom Lord
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To: philman_36
"since when?"

Pretty much since God said man was made from a grain of dirt, and woman made from one of Adams ribs.... not to mention no loving God would put Democrats on his Earth.... teeheehee
31 posted on 11/15/2002 6:54:59 AM PST by walkingdead
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Comment #32 Removed by Moderator

To: fissionproducts
Ad here is a question to make any empiricist uncomfortable: "How do you know that the phenomena you perceive with your senses have any relation to reality as it actually exists?" You don't, of course. You take it on faith that there exists an objective reality outside of yourself that corresponds in some meaningful way with your sensory impressions. But, as Descartes pointed out, that faith is very much subject to doubt. Being a materialist is to eventually come to the conclusion that the only thing that cannot be doubted is one's own existence: cogito ergo sum, "I think, therefore I am". But, since one's own thoughts are directly experienced, not perceived via sensory impresions (one does not literally "hear oneself think"), then the rationalist is left with the uncomfortable realization that the only thing in the universe one can know exists cannot be demonstrated to exist -- and, thus, that the entire structure of empiricism is based upon a non-empirical foundation.
33 posted on 11/15/2002 6:56:38 AM PST by B-Chan
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To: hchutch; Dog Gone; wimpycat
I've finally found my label. This is me.
34 posted on 11/15/2002 6:57:08 AM PST by Chancellor Palpatine
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To: WarrenC
"without ever feeling that their faith required them to "suppress" their intelligence. Quite the contrary."

What about Albert Einstein? Steven Hawkins(sp?)? These are argueably two of the greatest minds to ever walk the face of the planet.

35 posted on 11/15/2002 6:58:14 AM PST by walkingdead
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To: walkingdead
Cartman on Democrats: "Democrats piss me off!"

Democrats piss me off!

36 posted on 11/15/2002 6:59:00 AM PST by KarlInOhio
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To: hchutch
Is there such a think as a "Simpsons" Republican? I'd rather be that.

Off point, but wasn't the most recent South Park with the "Quest of the One Videotape" a riot?

Precioussss...

37 posted on 11/15/2002 7:00:11 AM PST by Snake65
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To: fissionproducts
Having faith in something is to suspend doubt.
Not to me.
Heb. 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
Much more in Hebrews 11 about faith.

And for a secular description...
1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : LOYALTY b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs

I don't find your definition/interpretation credible, but carry on. (wiping the dust off my shoes)

38 posted on 11/15/2002 7:00:15 AM PST by philman_36
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To: strela; diotima
.
39 posted on 11/15/2002 7:00:28 AM PST by Chancellor Palpatine
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To: MSgt Smith
guess I too am a South Park Republican. Whew! It's nice to have a "group name" to relate to.

Environmentalism requires you to supress your intellect.

Me too and I eat taco bell as well.

Although I think of myself as a Cartman Republican. "I'm not fat, I'm just big boned."

40 posted on 11/15/2002 7:00:42 AM PST by markfiveFF
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To: hchutch
Excellent article. One of the best I've read in awhile. I'm 18 and this basically describes me and all of my Republican friends, even here in this very conservative suburb of Dallas. The South Park Republican is a group that's probably always been around, but seems to be emerging a lot more as of late. Although it's doubtful that South Park itself is the cause, having a major pop culture item that we South Park Republicans can identify with (while having many laughs over) greatly helps.
41 posted on 11/15/2002 7:01:18 AM PST by DallasJ7
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To: hchutch
P. J. O'Rourke called this group, "Republican Party Reptiles" and "Ike with a mohawk."
42 posted on 11/15/2002 7:02:03 AM PST by Martin Tell
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To: walkingdead
Cartman on helping the homeless on Thanksgiving: "...isn't it enough I pay taxes?!?!"

Actually, that's almost word for word a Scrooge quote from A Christmas Carol.

Cartman saying it did crack me up, however!

:-)

43 posted on 11/15/2002 7:02:07 AM PST by Jonah Hex
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To: fissionproducts
See how silly that line of thinking looks?
Then why are you thinking like that?
44 posted on 11/15/2002 7:02:46 AM PST by philman_36
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To: Snake65
Yea, I'm probably a bigger Simpsons fan than South Park, but I tell you what, Cartman makes South Park a strong number two. I don't think anyone will be able to top Homer though. dooohhhhh!
45 posted on 11/15/2002 7:03:12 AM PST by walkingdead
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To: walkingdead
These are argueably two of the greatest minds to ever walk the face of the planet.

Tony Orlando still has you beat with his remark about Bob Hope: "If you could take all the laughter this man has given us, it would reach to the universe and fill up the black hole in space."

But you're close.

46 posted on 11/15/2002 7:04:26 AM PST by monkey
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To: philman_36
Religion requires you to supress your intellect.
Since when?

Your kidding right? Ever heard of Galileo? The list is long.

47 posted on 11/15/2002 7:04:43 AM PST by Phantom Lord
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To: walkingdead
"Simpsons did it! Simpsons did it!"
48 posted on 11/15/2002 7:05:50 AM PST by Snake65
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To: fissionproducts
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

Oh, what he may have accomplished had he not suppressed his intellect with such spiritual feelings!

49 posted on 11/15/2002 7:06:11 AM PST by Mr. Bird
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To: All
Episode alert!!

For all LOTR and South Park fans, this week's new episode is a must see. If you were not able to watch it Wednesday night, make sure you see it over the weekend. You gotta love Cartman, but this episode has the perfect part for Butters.... "My precious."

50 posted on 11/15/2002 7:08:13 AM PST by SaveTheChief
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