Wanting to mingle with the enemy, I've adopted a cunning conservative disguise. I've drastically changed my look (blue suit jacket, American flag tie, Docker khakis; I've removed my earrings and shaved my sideburns). To make the transformation to Young Republican complete, I join the ranks of the Silicon Valley branch of the Young Republicans.
In the Hyatt lobby I meet the Young Republicans SV president, a former U.S. Marine who is sweating profusely.
"So you're from San Francisco!" he exclaims. "You're deep in enemy territory."
"Yeah, I'm the lone Republican in San Francisco," I boast, adding with distaste, "I have to live in that city full of liberal freaks whining about our troops."
We smile. We laugh. He likes me. There is a reason the YR president is fawning so heavily in my direction: As near as I can tell, I'm one of only six members of the Silicon Valley Young Republicans at the convention.
"I got to look after my investment," expresses the Young Republicans president, introducing me to several Republican politicos, all of whom have firm handshakes.
"I won't let you down," I mutter several times, following at his heel. Showing I'm someone on the fast track, I add, "I want to start a chapter of the Young Republicans in San Francisco!"
To make my decision to join the Young Republicans seem sweeter, the club president tells me that Young Republicans really like to party. "You'll party like you never partied before!" he professes (still sweating). Somehow, I'm sure he's right.
At the upstairs hotel bar, the YR president passes me off to two well-groomed members of the Silicon Valley YR crew. I create common ground by singing fanatical praise for George Bush and proclaiming the need to recruit others to vote for him.
"At least this time Gore won't try and steal the election!" sneers one of my YR brethren, who's adorned with a multitude of "funny" political buttons that say such scathing things as "Village Idiot," emblazoned on a picture of Hillary Clinton. (Ah, Republican humor.) Pointing to his funny button, I exclaim, "Stupid Democrats!"
I hit if off big time with the Young Republicans at the bar by joining in their disdain for a contingent of protesters in front of the hotel, awaiting the expected appearance of Gov. Schwarzenegger.
"Waa-waa! I want health care," mocks one of the Young Republicans with a big toothy laugh.
"Waa-waa! I want human dignity," I add, waving my hands in the air.
The guy with the funny buttons and I take time to mingle on the convention floor. Funny Buttons seems momentarily star-struck when he recognizes a Republican congressional candidate. A bit flustered, he shyly introduces himself. The bulbous-nosed politician gives the obligatory, firm handshake and practiced, strong eye contact reserved for potential voters and shares a scandalous story about his Democratic political opponent in his district:
"She told such lewd sexual stories that staffers had to excuse themselves to go into the bathroom and vomit."
"Who does she think she is," Funny Buttons interjects, "Bill Clinton?"
We share a good laugh. (Republican humor.)
"Yeah, Bill Clinton," I repeat, as if it hadn't just been said. "Is that who she thinks she is?"
When the laughter dies down, I throw in, "Stupid Democrats!"
The major destinations for the evening are the hospitality suites, where you can schmooze with your favorite Republican candidates (and, more important, drink their free booze).
"There's some nice Republican women here," Funny Buttons notes. I look around the suite at white women, adorned in conservative blue, sporting large, Orange County hair.
"Is that part of the hospitality suites?" I ask, giving an all-knowing wink.
"Well," Funny Buttons slyly says, "I don't want to marry some Green Party chick!"
We let out hearty, all-knowing laughs.
"Yeah," I say, elbowing him in the ribs. "Stupid liberals."
Before party time, I venture to the Bush for President booth and slap Bush/Cheney stickers all over my blue suit jacket, introducing myself to Vera, the San Mateo County chairwoman for the re-elect Bush campaign. I tell her I'm a new member of the Silicon Valley Young Republicans.
"Why don't you start a Young Republican chapter in San Francisco?" Vera asks, impressed by my giddy enthusiasm.
"You know, I've been thinking about that," I share, asking how I can help out with the Bush re-election cause.
"The first thing I'm going to ask you," Vera says, pausing to create anticipation, "do you want to be a precinct captain?"
Damn. I've only been a Young Republican for two hours now and already I'm climbing the party ladder. There's only one way to answer: "You bet I do! You bet I do indeed!"
Scribbling on a card, I give Vera the address and phone number of my Nader-supporting ex-girlfriend.
"Be sure to send me as much campaign material as possible," I proclaim, handing her the card. "Just keep it coming!"
Unlike their wussy liberal counterparts, the Young Republicans looooove to drink. Republicans have deep pockets, so there's plenty of free alcohol. In fact, my club, the Silicon Valley Young Republicans, is throwing a party in a hotel suite. For some reason the party is called "The Bay Area House of Blues." The best part is, I'm in the inner circle for the event, having enthusiastically volunteered to be part of the party-planning committee. I even help hand out fliers, each of which has a guitar on it, with text that reads "Just Follow the Music!!!" (They love to party!)
"Who wants a Silver Bullet?" cries a middle-aged fat man in a blue suit who earlier told me he owns a gun shop; he has a can of Coors in each hand. Yes, there's plenty of beer donated by the ultra-conservative Coors Brewing Co. There's an American flag on one wall, a large Silicon Valley Young Republicans banner on the other, and a Bush/Cheney sign in the middle.
The free alcohol is great, but this has got to be the worst party I've ever attended, on many levels. It's a sad bunch. My conservative crew, composed almost entirely of Young Republican males, stands stiffly in a corner; we're wearing ties and waiting for other young conservatives to show up. The Eagles' "Life in the Fast Lane" blares from the sound system as the funny-buttons guy plays air guitar. The hotel suite is almost entirely empty; we pass the time by bashing Democrats. ("Stupid Democrats!")
"Kerry looks like Herman Munster!" remarks a man with a protruding forehead and a smug way of laughing.
"Yeah, and Hillary Clinton looks like an ape," I say, to more big, smug laughter, which dies down eventually and leaves us standing, again, in silence.
Some of the guys pass the party time by watching Fox News. Others salivate over the very few women in the hotel room. I pop open another Silver Bullet, greeting every new person I meet with a slap on the back and the statement, "We're all family, we're all Republicans!"
After a while, though, I down a Jell-O shot and am overtaken by an uncanny fantasy. Suddenly, I want to get busy with a random conservative Republican chick in a blue skirt and go to THE DARK SIDE! My fantasy involves hooking up with and dry-humping one in the stairwell, hand under sweater, over bra. Then, as she orgasms, I whip off my get-up and proclaim, "I'm a liberal in disguise!" (most likely this would cause her head to explode).
"You know, I'm president of the San Francisco chapter of the Young Republicans," I smoothly boast to a Bakersfield Young Republican, hoping she will want to climb my political ladder, tonight, again and again. After telling me she works at a nonprofit, I announce, "Wow, that almost sounds like you're a Democrat."
She looks at me like I just called her a pedophile and walks away.
More Eagles music. More air guitar. Rigid dancing is attempted by the very white crowd, all of whom, all together, possess no rhythm whatsoever.
The YR president passes off a potential recruit to me, so I can share with him all the glorious benefits of becoming a Young Republican.
"Look after him," the Silicon Valley Young Republicans president whispers to me.
"We're all family. We're all Republicans!" I am now screaming as I give the recruit a firm, drunken slap on the back and begin to make small talk.
"You've got to join the Young Republicans," I express. "It's really a great opportunity to be amongst like-minded people."
"Yeah, it sounds great," he enthusiastically replies.
I move in closer.
"I'm also the president of another club, if you're interested in joining," I say. The recruit expresses interest.
"Our club's purpose is to promote the advancement of white people," I explain.
The recruit's face turns whiter than a Klansman's sheet.
"So what do you say?" I ask, but he quickly declines and rapidly walks away. Oh, well. As our beloved president might say, "Mission Accomplished!"