TDS managing editor Ed Kilgore previews the GOP convention in his Daily Intelligencer post at New York Magazine: “The general feeling here in Cleveland a day before the formal opening of the 2016 Republican National Convention is that any drama is most likely to occur outside the arena, in some configuration of a three-cornered battle involving pro- and anti-Trump protesters and the Cleveland police…It’s the general disorder in the planning of this convention that sustains some speculation about the possibility of the unexpected occurring inside the arena…But in terms of efforts to loosen the grip of Trump and the RNC over the convention’s rules and platform, it’s probably all over but the shouting…”
In his syndicated column “GOP, RIP?” E. J. Dionne, Jr. has an eloquent take on the coarsening of the Republican Party as they begin the Trump convention. “…Republicans who are not in the least progressive have reason to mourn what is likely to come to pass this week: the transformation of the Party of Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower into the Party of Trump. Some are bravely resisting this outcome to the end — and good luck to them. A fair number of leading Republicans have stated flatly that they will never vote for Trump. Their devotion to principle and integrity will be remembered.” Citing Trump’s “politics of flippant brutality,” Dionne adds, “hypocrisy really is the tribute vice pays to virtue and so it does mark a decline in simple decency that Trump has shouted out his prejudices openly…He substitutes bullying for choosing, bluster for strength…”
In terms of issues and themes, expect increasingly shrill calls for “law and order” to dominate the GOP quadrennial convention, in the wake of the shootings of police in Louisiana and Dallas. As Alexander Burns reports at The New York Times, “Mr. Trump has campaigned on the theme of “law and order” since the assassination this month of five police officers in Dallas, and he is likely to amplify that message in the coming days…While Republicans often run on law-and-order themes, an indelicate approach could carry considerable danger at a moment of such unusual political instability…But some local officials have expressed concern about the possibility of violence owing to Ohio’s open-carry gun laws. Though demonstrators and others in the convention district have been barred from possessing a range of items, including gas masks, there was no prohibition on the brandishing of firearms…On Sunday, the president of Cleveland’s police union called for additional measures to protect the security of the event, and urged Mr. Kasich to suspend open-carry gun rights.” Kasich, thus far, has refused to do so.
At Post Politics John Wagner’s, “As GOP convenes, Clinton plans to launch major voter mobilization drive” observes “Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton plans to announce a major voter mobilization effort on Monday that will aim to add more than 3 million people to rolls by November to bolster her odds against Republican Donald Trump…Aides to Clinton said they intend to make voter registration a major focus at every level of the campaign, including among coordinated Democratic drives in key states. This week alone, they said, more than 500 registration-themed events will take place across the country.”
Meanwhile, from The Brennan Center for Justice: “Today, senior congressional lawmakers introduced the Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2016, a transformative bill that would add up to 50 million new voters by automatically registering eligible citizens to vote…In the past 16 months, five states, several with bipartisan support, have adopted automatic registration, through the department of motor vehicles. Oregon, the first state to fully implement the plan, is now a national leader in voter registration rates, and has quadrupled its rate of new registrations at the DMV compared to previous years.”
“Democratic strategists are now talking up not only Illinois and Wisconsin but also Indiana as easy wins, a scenario which leaves Democrats just one seat short of Senate control if Clinton beats Trump. Republicans fear their party could be letting one go if it doesn’t respond to Bayh and the $10 million he already had sitting in his old campaign account when he announced his new run last week. — from “Vulnerable Senate Republicans outpolling Trump” by Burgess Everett and Kevin Robillard at Politico.
In her Los Angeles Times op-ed “The Democrats’ demographic firewall is under attack,” Emory University professor Carol Anderson writes: “A recent study by political scientists at UC San Diego found that in elections held between 2008 to 2012 in states with strict voter ID laws “turnout among Democrats in general elections dropped an estimated 7.7 percentage points, while Republican turnout dropped 4.6 percentage points.” Even more telling, strong liberals’ voter turnout rates plummeted 10.7 percentage points, whereas the decline for strong conservatives was only 2.8%…Four of seven key swing states in the upcoming election, as well as North Carolina, Indiana and Wisconsin, which were crucial in either 2008 or 2012, have Republican-sponsored disenfranchisement statutes in place. We’ve already seen a dress rehearsal for what might happen in November. The midterm 2014 gubernatorial and U.S. Senate elections in Texas, North Carolina, Virginia and Alabama were all decided in favor of Republicans by a margin smaller than the number of disenfranchised voters in each state.”
Greg Allen explains why “Which Way Florida Goes Hinges On Puerto Rican Voters.” Allen notes, “According to the Pew Research Center, Puerto Ricans make up 27 percent of eligible Hispanic voters in the state, rivaling the 31 percent of eligible Hispanics who are Cuban-Americans…”This year is one of the tests of how strong the Puerto Rican vote has gotten,” says Esteban Garces, with the voter education group Mi Familia Vota. “Eventually, Puerto Ricans, if this trend continues, may outnumber the number of Cubans we have in this state.”…State Sen. Darren Soto represents the area in the legislature. He says Puerto Ricans have been a key swing vote in the state’s most important swing region — central Florida’s Interstate 4 corridor — since at least 2008. “We helped put President Barack Obama on top and helped him win his re-election,” Soto says. “At the end of the day, it’s no secret that the candidate that wins the I-4 corridor, so goes Florida.
For those who were wondering about the cultural/entertainment offerings of the GOP convention, read “Scrambling, Planners of the Republican Convention Put ‘Showbiz’ Off to the Wings” by NYT’s Jonathan Martin and Jeremy W. Peters. The authors report that Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson is the headliner, and “actors from “The Young and the Restless,” “General Hospital” and “Charles in Charge” will also participate. Martin and Peters also quote Tommy Valentine, a delegate from Virginia, who dryly observes “This is not what I’d call A-list.” Trump has reportedly caved on his insistance that boxing promoter Don King address the convention, after “Reince Priebus, the Republican national chairman, firmly explained to Mr. Trump why Mr. King should not be invited: He once stomped a man to death and was convicted of manslaughter,” which might not go so well with the expected calls for “law and order.” At The Daily Beast Betsy Woodruff profiles this charmer, who has reportedly been given a speaking slot at the convention. But whatever levity can be, ahem, goosed out of the looming potential for disaster the GOP convention provides will likely be found at The Late Show, where Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will riff on the proceedings. As Frank Zappa once observed, “Politics is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex.”