One has to wonder if the people who pushed very hard some time ago to get the Republican Party to hold its 2016 national convention in Cleveland are having buyer’s remorse, much like the initiators of the ‘Leave’ campaign for the BREXIT referendum in England.
In a small town like Cleveland, holding an event like a national convention, during a work week in the city center, imposes unreasonable burdens on people and businesses that want to go about their life and business without additional stress. As if the stress of daily life and work in the city in a hot July is not enough! Between the delegates, the security people, the media, the protesters and their entourage, center city Cleveland will be totally taken over, occupied, by the invasion of conventioneers and the people who normally live and work there will be deprived of their normal ingress and egress, their parking spots, their cafes and restaurants and their freedom of movement. No surprise then that a number of businesses, those that can afford to do so, have chosen to move their offices out to the suburbs for the duration of the GOP convention. Of course, there are beneficiaries too, like the hotels and restaurants that will be fully booked all week and be able to charge top price for their services. And the owners of mansions and condominiums that can rent their real estate out for the week and demand exorbitant prices for doing so.
It looks like the GOP convention in Cleveland is going to be the perfect metaphor for what ails this country and for what drives the anger that is brewing at or just below the surface in this election year: All the burden is going to be on the ordinary citizens and all the spoils go to the select few.
I am a greater Cleveland resident but I have long ago decided that I don’t want to be anywhere near this scene. My family will spend the last two weeks of July at an Atlantic coast beach to escape the madness and the inconvenience.
So far, this year 2016 has been an exceptionally good year for Cleveland. LeBron James has delivered on his promise to bring an NBA championship to the Cleveland Cavaliers and, at the brink of the All Star Game, the Cleveland Indians are overwhelming the competition for the leadership in the central division of the American League. The city, that has worked hard to shed its image of a corrupt and bankrupt place where even the river could catch fire, has justifiably taken pride in being chosen as the site for the GOP convention, that is, until the primaries had played themselves out and it had become clear that what was supposed to be a festive convention would turn into either a coronation of a fraudulent demagogue or an unprecedented last minute power grab by the party establishment. Either way, with all the other protests already alive on America’s streets, it is hard to see how the Cleveland convention can be spared the ignominy of turning into a street fight.
What happens in Cleveland between July 18 and 21 transcends the interest of the Republican Party and its adherents. It poses a dilemma of constitutional significance. It will put the question to the nation: ‘When will the interest in a competent, trustworthy and responsible person in charge of the highest office in the free world trump the expressed will of primary voters?’
I will not go as far as comparing Trump to Hitler or Mussolini, but I will use their names to illustrate a point. And the point of analogy is that Hitler and Mussolini too were sanctioned by the constitutional rules in place at the time in their respective countries. It was only after the constitutional process had placed these misfits in a position of power that they systematically abused that power with disastrous consequences for their nations and the world.
By my book there is a legitimate question: ‘When will good governance require that the expressed will of the voting public be overruled on the grounds that the chosen candidate is morally, emotionally and intellectually unfit to ascend to the highest office in the land?’ Think about all the death and demise the world would have been spared if Hitler and Mussolini had not been allowed to rise to power!
In the case at hand it is important to establish that even though Trump got more votes and won more delegates than any of his GOP contenders only a small fraction of the American voting public gave him a vote of confidence (that is the nature of primary elections).
Our constitution does not offer a ‘work-around’ for situations like this. This is somewhat remarkable given the fact that our founding fathers loudly and repeatedly warned against the rule by the mob. But, of course, in their time only the economically and intellectually privileged men had voting rights, which addressed that threat. In this day and age, under normal circumstances, the general election should expose the flaws in the nominee of either party and lead to the election of the nominee of the other party. But this year is anything but normal with the presumptive nominee of the opposing party despised by many, representative of an un-American dynasty mentality, and narrowly escaping prosecution for mishandling sensitive and secret information. If there ever was a choice between the lesser of two evils, this is it! Our nation, desperately in need of getting things done, would not be well served with such choice.
That’s why maybe, in this case, Republican leaders need to step in at or before the Cleveland convention and prevent a Trump ascendency. You may not want to be in the streets of Cleveland when that happens. But you may not want to live in America when it does not.