The Corner

Southpark Republicans, Again

Stephen Stanton revisits the whole non-brouhaha of South Park Republicanism. If all he’s saying is that there’s a socially moderate middle which is right now in the Republican column, I agree with him. But beyond that, I’m not sure. Regardless, I think he steals a few bases.

One is stylistic and I may be misreading him. But he seems to say that I’m wrong on South Park Republicans because I don’t address his writings. Protecting what you see as your turf is fair game but, truth be told, I didn’t have his writings in mind at all when I wrote my column about Brian Anderson’s City Journal piece.

Second, it seems to me that Stanton is using SPR in a way that a lot of people aren’t. At the outset he agrees with me that there is no uniform bloc of South Park Republicans. He even concedes that many South Park Republicans have never seen the show and have no coherent political outlook on actual issues of public policy. Rather, SPRs are merely moderates, middle of the roaders, centrists, libertarian or liberal Republicans or conservative or libertarian Democrats.

Well, if that’s the case, why the hell are we talking about them in the first place? Doesn’t this underscore my contention that this is largely a contrivance of the pundits and bloggers? I agree there are generational differences among younger conservatives and young people generally. My problem is with the rush to create seemingly insightful but actually distorting journalistic buzz-phrases for rather ordinary — though important — trends.

Also, Stanton seems to think there’s rich irony in the fact that most South Park Republicans don’t know we’re talking about them and he suggests this fact is lost on many of us pointy-headed pundits. As for the first part, I agree entirely that they might be oblivious to this debate — especially if they don’t exist. As for the second part, who says? Stanton refers to the “incestuous circles of punditry” as if folks like Andrew Sullivan and I live in a bunker somewhere. Well, truth be told, I pretty much do live in a bunker but it never dawned on me that all of these millions of people would be aware of this tea-cup debate. I’m also aware, for example, that millions of urban Catholics are probably unaware Karl Rove is reaching out to them and that they live outside these incestuous circles as well. This is not news and presenting it as such doesn’t wash.

Lastly, Stanton’s concessions that South Park Republicans aren’t a unified bloc are largely retracted by the end of his essay where he starts listing the policies that could win them over to the Democrats or keep them in the Republican column. Well, which is it? Is it true that “There is no single ‘South Park Republican’ platform. They have different views on drugs, guns, abortion and Social Security.” Or is it true that, the GOP could lose their support by endorsing “anti-smoking legislation” or by raising tariffs?

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