Thursday, April 14, 2016


Political Mayhem Thursday: Protests in Cleveland?

It is beginning to look very likely that this July's Republican convention in Cleveland may be the most interesting since the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, where protests raged and the event followed on the decision by LBJ not to run and the assassination of RFK. Hubert Humphrey was the nominee, despite the fact that he had not entered a single primary.

The protests there were in support of an anti-war plank and candidate (Eugene McCarthy), both of which were rejected inside the convention.

In July, the probable (though not certain) context will be that Donald Trump will have won the plurality of the delegates, but not enough to put him over the threshold on the first ballot. 

Last week, we discussed what might happen inside the hall-- that is, who might be chosen.

This week, I am wondering what might happen outside the hall. Will there be protests? Might Trump supporters actually show up and cause trouble? And what if neither Trump or Ted Cruz are made the nominee?  Might there be a Republican version of Chicago '68?

I hope that the Repub hangers-on will have some sense of decorum and appropriate protest. But with a candidate that encourages violence, who knows what will happen outside.
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There is a theory out there that the best thing Republicans can do is let Cruz win the nomination, lose the general election, and then start over.
In this year honesty is seen as a weakness, I think that Paul Ryan is looking good for the nomination. He is doing everything right and in character. He is ever-present and saying "look at me", "please, please, look at this good guy who doesn't desperately want to be President, like Donald, Ted or John". He seems to understand the role he is in and how to play it.

I don't think Donald Trump wants the job as President, he only wants to be THE PRESIDENT. He will be personally relieved after the convention not to have to spend his time governing. After Cleveland, he will publicly bask in his glory of winning so much and bath in the righteous indignation of being deprived his right to be THE PRESIDENT.

The Republican party will be flush with relief. They will begin a massive PR program of redefining themselves, the one that Paul Ryan has already started. This is something that they are arguable the very best at doing.

This leaves Ted Cruz. Gulp! He is very smart and can be very nasty. He will cause trouble if the scenario above doesn't pan out and he is the candidate and if it does, then he becomes the voice of the disgruntled conservative branch of the party.
I think the RNC knows this, but they really don't like him. Ted Cruz after Cleveland will be the story of the year.

I am curious how others process the use of demonstrations, civil disobedience, and low levels of violence.

My personal instinct is to avoid such things and stick with filing lawsuits and generally pursuing change via the rule of law, unless you punch me in the nose.

At the same time, from a philosophical perspective, I am open to the idea that law is just power, and politics is just the pursuit thereof. Looked at this way, even reasonable levels of police power and violence are not inherently right or moral, or immoral for that matter. Same with protestor conduct. If your side has the the law and the police on your side, you use them. If you don't, you use something else. But no one has the moral high ground. We are only mere steps removed from cavemen with clubs. He who has the power makes the rules. And if you are too timid to exercise power, sucks to be you.

Needles to say, much of this perspective is in conflict with the teachings of Jesus, something relevant for those that like me, make half hearted attempts at following him... Except when they aren't. i.e. Jesus throwing out the money changers in the temple.


I am very much conflicted.

Protesters have the right to peacefully assemble and to speak about matters of public interest. The Chicago debacle in 1968 has been thoroughly analyzed and the findings were and are that it was a police riot. That is, that the police initiated the violence, justifying it by the idea that the protesters were not following certain rules established for protests for that event, rules that made any protest contrary to those rules -- a violation of the constitutional rights of those protesting. The whole scenario was created by then Mayor Daley.

BTW, the analysis of the Republican Convention of 1860 in Chicago is a lesson in how to take over a convention by where and how you seat the delegations. The Illinois delegation and some allies were able to prevent other delegations from communicating to trade votes for other candidates by being in the center of the convention floor. They also made it hard for the opposing speakers to be heard.
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