By Kate Conger
By Brian Rinker
By Rachel Swan
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By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
By Erin Sherbert
By Rachel Swan
"Republicans! Republicans!" I chant with my arms in the air, entering the GOP state convention at the Hyatt hotel by the airport. The concourse is a conservative's wet dream, splattered with Bush/Cheney signs and numerous pictures of Junior, filled with a crowd that is white and, on next glance, whiter, adorned with big hair and fat cats resembling Thurston Howell from Gilligan's Island. Yes, Orange County is in da haus!
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!"