As a first time attendee to a National Party Convention, I was thoroughly impressed and found the experience to be exciting and rewarding.
I was struck with the importance of this event in our current presidential nomination process. Although the results are considered by many to be a procedural foregone conclusion, that is not always the case and there was a distinct possibility that this one could have been tumultuous had Donald Trump not secured the required 1237 delegates by the end of the primary season.
The media described “chaos” which lasted only a few minutes provided one of the more entertaining aspects of the convention when delegates actually got the chance to take part in a brief episode of real demonstrative party politics. Disagreement on the floor on the opening day occurred when party leaders rejected a demand by anti-Trump delegates for a state-by-state roll call vote. They shouted “call the roll” and Trump supporters shouted “USA”. It was exciting, but brief.
Notwithstanding party affiliation, the national party convention is another one of the unique American political processes that sets this nation apart from most others and allows us to resolve our vast differences, in most cases, with little violence; unlike many of our international neighbors.
I would describe the entire event as a cross between an old fashion revival, a music concert, and a gigantic corporate board meeting.
I was moved by the testimonials of the parents of children who had been murdered by undocumented career violent offenders, by two of the surviving members of the Benghazi debacle, the Lone Survivor, and many others. I was very disappointed in the disproportionate media focus on Melania Trump.
I was impressed by the diversity of the convention participants and found my interaction with them educational and enjoyable. The ability to get to know and mingle with other participants was not restricted to “delegates”. The crowds were large, friendly and pleasant.
Even the security arrangements were impressive. Although I’m sure it existed, I don’t recall seeing this type of law enforcement presence at the last presidential inauguration. Not only was security everywhere in large numbers, the officers stood out in the distinctive uniforms of each of their separate agencies and jurisdictions. Moreover, they were extremely courteous, friendly and firm.
The City of Cleveland has gained an entirely new respect from me. It is no secret that this is a city that leans toward democrats, but the people could not have been more welcoming. Whether they were cab drivers, Uber drivers, restaurant personnel, or people on the street, I was always greeted with a pleasant gesture and an offer of assistance.
There were two aspects of the experience that I found troubling.
First, after reviewing the press coverage the morning after the first day, I wondered if the media was attending the same convention that I was. Having worked in the media for over 12 years, I was appalled by the lack of balanced coverage. Moreover, I certainly expected some commentary for our youth on the significance, or lack thereof of an event of this magnitude. It appears that the national media was focused on their specific agendas and they shaped their convention coverage to promote that singular objective.
Second, I was disturbed and disappointed in the media interest in me as a “black delegate”. It was apparent that their thinking was that as a black delegate, my interest and concerns were different from those of an “American delegates”. There existed an impression that I was a sheep that belonged in a heard where I was compelled to think as one with the heard and some else would decide what was important to me.
I felt that as a “black delegate” I was not supposed to be concerned with oppressive business regulations and exorbitant taxes, or that I should not be concerned about my three daughters and extended families freedom from violence, both foreign and domestic. Most importantly, I resented the inference that I lacked the intelligence to determine who I thought would best address my concerns and represent my interest.
Overall, it was an honor for me to have the opportunity to participate in this fundamental American process, and I am extremely pleased that I did.