A Most Unconventional Convention

What worries me most about the upcoming Republican national Convention is that it will be unlike any other. In this weird, chaotic, intricate mess we call American democracy, conventions hold a special status as a bastion of political pageantry and dramatic parades of party loyalty. It is a time when the most partisan of the politicos gather to reaffirm their commitment to party ideals and reaffirm their support for the party’s presidential nominee. Convention floors are often filled with fervor, as bitter primary rivals must come together in an effort to defeat the opponent from the rival party. Especially in an election year typified by its polarization, it will be interesting to watch just what happens on the convention floor in Cleveland. Many in the Republican establishment remain wary of the party’s unorthodox choice of nominee. Many Republicans remain reluctant to support Donald Trump, vowing to put up a resistance until the very end. Donald Trump’s rhetoric has proven to be inflammatory and polarizing, and many worry that the rise of his candidacy could signal the demise of the Republican Party in the near future. With no political experience, Donald Trump has managed to tap into deep seated racial anxiety and economic frustration that has really resonated with disaffected whites and conservatives that are still suffering from a wounded ego after eight years under President Obama. What worries me about the GOP Convention next week in Cleveland is that it signals that Americans have become complacent with the normalization of bigotry. Donald Trump has made disparaging remarks about Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, Women, and member of the LGBT community. He is unapologetic in his stances and evasive of any criticism. If anything, when observers offer critique of Trump’s policy he doubles down without hesitation. With a candidate that blatantly and remorselessly marginalizes large subgroups of the electorate, it is difficult to see a viable path forward for the Republican Party in a country that is increasingly diverse and an upcoming generation of voters that are more progressive on social issues than their predecessors. I honestly am going into Cleveland with no expectations. Trump events have thus far been hectic, violent, and unpredictable. My experience at a New Hampshire campaign event has colored my perception of his candidacy. As I have watched his meteoric and unlikely rise, I have become more and more disheartened in the state of the American polity. I have watched as Black Lives Matters protesters have been physically assaulted and as Muslim women wearing hijabs were harassed. This election has been the most divisive in recent memory. What I expect in Cleveland could possibly range from a desperate revolt to an enthusiastic confirmation of a candidate that I view as the embodiment of the darkest corners of the American psyche. If Donald Trump is confirmed as expected next week in Cleveland, then I will have to do some serious soul searching about how much faith I put in the humanity and empathy of my fellow citizens. No matter the outcome, next week in Cleveland will be a most unconventional convention indeed.

Erica Jordan

Donald J. Trump is the presumptive GOP presidential nominee

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