The city of Charlotte, North Carolina is abuzz with activity as federal officials, Republican party delegates and a host of staffers and journalists prepare for next week’s Republican National Convention. At the convention, roughly one-sixth of the total number of delegates (336 out of 2,550) will be present to renominate incumbent President Donald Trump as the party’s nomination for the 2020 Presidential Election.
The logistics behind the convention have, to an extent, been tumultuous – initially set for Charlotte, certain events such as Trump’s acceptance speech were relocated to Jacksonville, Florida.
The change came after N.C. Governor Roy Cooper voiced concerns regarding crowd limitations in Charlotte due to the coronavirus pandemic. The RNC temporarily switched the event to Jacksonville to allow for a full crowd, but when the city became a hot-spot, the venue returned to Charlotte. A small crowd of supporters will watch Trump’s South Lawn address on Thursday.
At time of press, North Carolina currently has over 150,000 confirmed cases and nearly 2,500 deaths due to COVID-19.
To enter the convention, all attendees have to display negative COVID-19 test results and provisions are in place to encourage social distancing, mask-wearing and symptom monitoring the rest of the week. In an unusual but perhaps predictable twist, reporters will be barred from the convention.
As per tradition, the convention follows last week’s Democratic National Convention, which was conducted with wide-scale social distancing efforts. Like the DNC, the RNC will be streamed live on various platforms.
Speakers at the DNC bridged the partisan gap and preached unity over division. The former Republican Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, appealed to moderates and disillusioned Republicans, while Senator Kamala Harris made history by being the first African-American and Asian-American woman nominated for the vice presidency.
Whether the RNC will follow this unifying strategy and seek to connect with a broader, undecided audience or continue to appeal to the president’s most ardent supporters with incendiary rhetoric remains to be seen. The convention provides an opportunity for the Trump administration to garner support amid a turbulent year, in which social upheaval continues in force and a pandemic rages in the shadow of an impending recession.
A number of speakers are scheduled for Monday through Thursday, each day having been thematically titled:
- A Land of Heroes, when the delegates will nominate the president and Donald Trump Jr. will speak from the convention center in Charlotte
- Land of Promise, when First Lady Melania Trump will speak from the White House Rose Garden
- Land of Opportunity, when Mike and Karen Pence will address a national audience from Fort McHenry in Baltimore
- Land of Greatness, when the president will give his nomination acceptance speech alongside his daughter Ivanka Trump from the White House South Lawn
Other Republican leaders are expected to feature in the convention, such as former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, as well as “warrior congressmen” Jim Jordan (OH-District 4) and Matt Gaetz (FL-District 1).
Various others are also expected to speak, like Nick Sandamann, a high-school student featured in a confrontation with a protester that went viral in 2019, exemplifying the explosive social tensions of modern American political culture, and Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a St.Louis couple currently facing felony charges for an incident in which they pointed their guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home.
As nationwide protests continue against police brutality and wider structural issues of racism, speakers at the RNC are expected to express their support for law and order and police officers. The invitation of speakers like Sandamann and the McCloskeys underscores Trump’s frequent anti-media rhetoric and opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The structure of the convention is by no means what the Republican Party wanted, but the dire circumstances of the pandemic drove them to settle for a limited capacity, socially distanced convention. Regardless, Trump’s notion of American greatness will intersect with the party’s focus on the future to rally support around the president in the last ten weeks until Election Day.
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