A Liberal Undercover at CPAC (Chapter 1): An American God

Houston's airport - Bush International. I'm flying out of Bush and into Reagan, moving eastward in space and backwards in time: soon I will face the Beast, but before I do, I'm killing time and brain cells in an airport named after his father, after which I will fly into one named after the Patron Saint of Modern Conservativism. By the time I get there time will have moved forward, but the names of the airports serve to remind me that I will be spending the next few days in the company of those who want it to move backward. Back to the 1980s when Reagan first began to rid us of those troublesome layabout unions, back to the 1950s with a stop along the way to annihilate the dread specter of the Sick Sick Sixties, back to the 1920s before That Man nearly ruined America with his confiscatory helpfulness, back to the 1890s with their gilded edges and men of high finance who knew the world was put there for them alone. Soon I will fly through the names of the presidents and mingle with men and women who are using the technology of the 21st century to repeal the 20th.

I break my pre-flight fast with a quick meal at McDonald's: quick, easy, and consequence free, the very spirit and image of consumer capitalism. No two countries have ever fought a war that both operated a McDonald's franchise, they tell me, which must be why all the employees look so cheerful and fulfilled in their jobs. They know they're helping to usher in a new age of global peace. Fuck it, I think to myself as I perform the nutritional operation of consuming a Quarter Pounder with cheese: if I'm going to do this, I might as well do it right. No mouthing off or hipster showboating this trip. My bag is different this time: a raw and ideologically pure dive into the FDA-approved dyes of the red states. For eight years I have been lectured about the pure moral good of the heartland and the values it is said to embrace, contra my own apparently horrid set of cultural preferences. And this time, I will listen. I will shed my pretentious, intellectually hostile beliefs and attend the Conservative Political Action Conference as the paragon of red-state values I am forever urged to become.

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