For people of a certain advanced age, the first openly Republican or conservative fictional character they can remember is Alex P. Keaton from the NBC sitcom “Family Ties.” The role launched Michael J. Fox’s career, but it did something else, too: in many ways, Alex Keaton predicted the conservative movement that we see emerging today. Energetic and aggressive, Keaton was an unapologetic conservative character at a time conservatism was in many ways an apologetic underdog.
It is important to note that Alex P. Keaton was born in 1965, the very first year of Generation X. The comic tension he provided was his rejection of the 1960s hippie ethos of his progressive parents. He is arguably the first manifestation of something that is now a staple of our society, the countercultural conservative. Conservatism as counter culture has reached an apex in the age of Trump. But its seeds can be seen in this old NBC sitcom. Keaton might as well have said, “Okay, Boomer.”