South Park Republicans
By Stephen W. Stanton - 10/07/2002

Picture a typical Republican. Perhaps you see images of George Bush, John Ashcroft, Ronald Reagan, or maybe even Alex P. Keaton. Basically, many people think Republicans are a bunch of stodgy white guys with money.

Times are changing. The Republican A-list now includes Colin Powell, Christie Whitman, J.C. Watts, and Condoleeza Rice. Women and minorities have been making great strides in the party, but they generally dress, talk, and act like their predecessors. You are more likely to find them at a formal reception than a rock concert.

If Republicans are so different from mainstream America, then who voted for them? The nation has more Republican congressmen and state governors than any other political party, plus control of the White House. There are not enough Alex P. Keatons to account for these election results. Our nation is among the most diverse on earth. Half of the voters are women, a quarter are minorities. There are millions of union workers, retirees, immigrants, government workers, customer service employees, and individuals in low paying jobs, unemployed or on some form of public assistance. All of these groups are expected to lean left. Surely, the stodgy, affluent, religious white guys are outnumbered in the electorate by a huge margin. Yet Republicans candidates still do well. How is that possible?

The answer could very well be the "South Park Republicans." The name stems from the primetime cartoon "South Park" that clearly demonstrates the contrast within the party. The show is widely condemned by some moralists, including members of the Christian right. Yet in spite of its coarse language and base humor, the show persuasively communicates the Republican position on many issues, including hate crime legislation ("a savage hypocrisy"), radical environmentalism, and rampant litigation by ambitious trial lawyers. In one episode, industrious gnomes pick apart myopic anti-corporate rhetoric and teach the main characters about the benefits of capitalism.

South Park Republicans are true Republicans, though they do not look or act like Pat Robertson. They believe in liberty, not conformity. They can enjoy watching The Sopranos even if they are New Jersey Italians. They can appreciate the tight abs of Britney Spears or Brad Pitt without worrying about the nation's decaying moral fiber. They strongly believe in liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, and free markets. However, they do not live by the edicts of political correctness. 

The South Park Republicans are an incredibly diverse group encompassing a variety of nontraditional conservatives, such as the Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bruce Willis supported Republicans because of their commitment to lower taxes and fiscal discipline. Rap artist and movie actor LL Cool J recently endorsed NY governor George Pataki.

The most important South Park Republicans are not famous. They are the millions of people of every age, race, sex, and religion that generally agree that government spending is usually not the best way to deal with the nation's problems. Many of these individuals can tell you why Ayn Rand should displace some other authors in high school literature classes. They know firsthand from endless hours at the DMV, at the post office, and preparing income tax forms that government wastes time and money. They know a nation cannot tax its way to greatness.

If he were alive today, John F. Kennedy could very well be a South Park Republican. He rightly proclaimed, "An economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenues to balance our budget-just as it will never produce enough jobs or profits." You read that right. JFK was a supply-side tax cutter. His alleged private exploits would place him squarely within the South Park wing of the Republican Party.

Sound farfetched? There have been many Democrats that changed parties. Ronald Reagan, Senator Phil Gramm, and Mayor Mike Bloomberg were all once Democrats that became Republicans. The Democratic Party moved left, and the people that stood in the same place increasingly found their views shared by the elephants of the GOP. But not all elephants belong in the same herd. Pat Buchanan pushes a Christian/protectionist agenda that has absolutely nothing in common with the Libertarian folks who support free trade and complete separation of church and state. Depending on whom you ask, "Conservative" can mean smaller government of lower hemlines. (Hint: South Park Republicans are more likely to get Cosmo than the Weekly Standard.)

The South Park Republicans are not new, though they may now be more vocal. The party finally seems willing to embrace members that listen to the hard rock and rap music long denounced by the old guard. Heck, even vegetarians are welcome.

The media generally misrepresents Republicans as religious rich white males. This is patently false. Half of the voting public is Republican. They watch R rated movies, enjoy a few drinks at happy hour, and even go to the occasional Wrestlemania. Hopefully, the South Park Republicans will shatter the unfair stereotype and set the record straight. As Cartman would say, "That would be pretty sweet."