So we’re having a Republican National Convention in Charlotte after all, though it’s been reduced to just a few hundred delegates and perhaps just as many, if not more, protesters and counter-protesters and assorted looky-loos looking to buy MAGA hats and “Fuck Your Feelings” T-shirts on the street.
We should be thankful. Even without the coronavirus, even before George Floyd, the convention promised to be a complete shitshow: Trump’s irresistible force against the immovable objects of those who resist him, including our Democratic governor and Charlotte’s mayor. With those factors, it would have been apocalyptic.
And even now we must ask: What is the point?
It’s not as if there’s any serious challenger to Trump within the Republican Party. All dissenting voices have been effectively excommunicated from the GOP. There’s not likely to be a vigorous exchange of ideas about the party platform, which is the same it’s ever been except more so, with a little QAnon and some straight-up white supremacy thrown into the mix.
And there is, in fact, no official Republican platform this year. They didn’t bother to write one.
It’s not as if there’s a pressing need to rebut the Democrat’s convention and platform —that was done in real time on Twitter by Trump, by talking heads and party operatives, occupying every inch of bandwidth on media channels sympathetic to the cause. And frankly, most of Trump’s supporters don’t care about the platform anyway, as long as the rest of us hate it.
It could be argued that the convention could be a booster for candidates in the Senate and House, as well as state and county races. And there are a few of them on the speaker list, rounded out by the gun-toting couple from St. Louis, the horrible teenager from a viral-video confrontation, every member of his brain trust that’s not indicted or in jail, former NFL player Herschel Walker and the president of the UFC.
And, of course, his children and their spouses will have speaking slots each night. Because that’s totally normal.
For the city of Charlotte, this was supposed to be about the money — remember, in 2016 Hillary Clinton destroyed Trump in Mecklenburg County, winning it by almost 30 percentage points, so it was an unpopular decision.
Now, the money’s gone and so is the conflict. All that’s left will be virus-rich droplets in the late-summer air.