Light on the Sacred, Heavy on the Profane
Saturday, December 06, 2003
Urban Warfare, Redefined

This Story (registration required) about the seizure of Baghdad's palaces- those that used to be Saddam's- is a wonderful description of the tough decisions that accompany any military enterprise.

Remember how the Brits took weeks to clear the guerillas out of Basra? That's because their urban warfare teeth were cut in Belfast. He who designed this plan to take important psychological targets probably had a keen sense of shame-based cultures. Once we were planted in Saddam's palaces, the hard-core Ba'athists threw everything they had at us. Simultaneously, those who were forced to fight could easily see the shame of the Ba'athists and fled where they could.

This was a battle plan which will change the way Western armies think about urban warfare in other cultures- Not that I want to see more of that, but it is best to be prepared.

A Marketing Campaign, Not a Voting Bloc

OK, better late than never. There's a lot that's been said about South Park Republicans lately. I think that Andrew Sullivan has it wrong when he says:
"[SPR's]...believe we need a hard-ass foreign policy and are extremely skeptical of political correctness” but also are socially liberal on many issues."

Jonah Goldberg is more on target with this:
"I don't know that you can extrapolate from the fact that some Republican kids like South Park that, therefore, there's any such thing as a unifying set of beliefs among them."

Stephed Stantonagrees:
There is no single "South Park Republican" platform. They have different views on drugs, guns, abortion and Social Security.

In the same piece, Stanton drops several hints about the essence of South Park Republicanism:
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 other defining characteristic is a visible disconnect from the stereotypical Republican, an affluent, religious, white, male, moralist.

Unlike archetypal Christian conservatives, they do not find much of modern pop culture offensive

During a local republican meetup blogger Kashei and I discussed our mutual disdain for the term South Park Republican. During this conversation, we hit on the only thing you can really describe South Park Republicanism as:

A marketing campaign

South Park Republicanism is an attempt to shift the GOP's public image from the stereotypes mentioned above. It is testimony to the fact that Republicans can be funny. Now those of us who've been Republicans for a long time can appreciate why such a campaign is needed, especially us young, urban Republicans. Not a weekend goes by without someone "discovering" that I'm a conservative and being shocked. Truly the stereotype Stanton refers to is widespread, and with the exception of SouthPark, the Simpsons, talk radio and the blogosphere, it is unchallenged.

No one would agree more than I about the need for a marketing campaign such as this, as my journey from liberal Democrat to conservative Republican would've been made much faster if the stereotype of the archtypical conservative had been shattered or weakened. For many years I was a registered Democrat that voted solely for Republican candidates. The actual party switch didn't happen for a long time and the thing that caused it was not the realization that I shared the values of the Republican Party so much as it was the realization that conservatives and Republicans were funny. It took years of hanging out on Free Republic and before I could switch parties. The folks there had such great, caustic senses of humor that I got the feeling that, "Hey, these people aren't so bad after all."

Arguing with the people on those sites also changed my mind on a lot of issues. This former prochoicer became a prolifer. My opinion on immigration did a 180 degree turn. This brings me to the dangers of the South Park Republican marketing campaign. Political self realization is a slow painful process where your perceptions are challenged and sometimes proven wrong. If this marketing campaign speeds up the process, great. But if it brings people into the GOP who don't agree with us on the fundamental issues facing America, people who want to be Republicans because we're funny and irreverent as opposed to the humorless Democrats, people who want to call themselves Republicans because they want to be cool, it could prove to be a bad strategy.