On My Mind: Un-convention-al

Aug 24, 2020

The Republican National Convention is finally here in Charlotte, and to be honest, you might not even notice. Instead of a three-ring circus, it has turned out to be more of a flea circus thing.

We were supposed to have tens of thousands of people crowding the city for parties and speeches. But the coronavirus had other plans for all of us in 2020. The GOP desperately tried to have its big party – at one point it planned to move the whole thing down to Florida, like a frat on spring break – but the virus won.

So like the Democrats last week, the Republican convention will be mostly a TV show. Most of the official business that had to be done happened over the weekend, with a few hundred party officials and delegates making about as much dent in our daily lives as a plumbers’ convention.

If you watched any of the Democratic convention, you might have come away, like me, thinking the lack of a crowd was a good thing. It’s nice to hear a speech that’s not interrupted by applause after every period. And the roll call of states officially nominating Joe Biden was charming and goofy and real in a way almost nothing at a political convention ever is.

A lot of Charlotteans didn’t want the GOP convention here anyway. There was a lot of worry about the protesters and counter-protesters who were bound to show up, and what would happen when they confronted each other or the police.

So on that score, we came out ahead. But a lot of working people in the city came out on the losing end.

The convention would’ve filled our hotel rooms and restaurants. The money would’ve trickled down to housekeepers and cab drivers … and maybe even an exotic dancer or two.

The same people getting crushed economically by the virus are the ones getting crushed by the convention not coming to town.

So maybe hold off on gloating that the president didn’t get to have his big production in Charlotte. Instead, let’s spend our time figuring out how to help the working people in our town recover from yet another thing that 2020 has taken away.

That’s the kind of thing a political convention is supposed to be about anyway. We can get the job done at home, by organizing and persuading and especially by voting.

You’ll just have to supply your own confetti and balloons.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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