Inside Look: Trump’s Republican National Convention In Cleveland

On the 21st of July, 2016, Donald Trump formally accepted the Republican Party nomination for president of the United States of America. Throughout the convention arena, avowed nationalists, monarchists, and other dissidents applauded, hidden among the thousands upon thousands of journalists, notables, and Republican delegates in attendance.

The wheezing Republican Party died that day, slain by a golden knight in shining armor, who replaced it with a new party defined by American nationalism and opposition to political correctness. I will end the praise there until Donald Trump formally crowns himself God-Emperor of America, but presidential nominee is a good start.

A friend of mine said the Republican National Convention (RNC) was an alt-right Disneyland. He could not have been more right. There was not a single strain of dissident thought unrepresented in Cleveland: from the Manosphere to Chuck C. Johnson, from Milo to Richard Spencer. Geert Wilders and Nigel Farage even made appearances from across the pond.

This end of the dissident sphere was present too:

I drove into Ohio at the beginning of the week. Over the few days I spent in Cleveland, it seemed as though any and every Internet dissident on race, sex, sexuality, demography, geopolitics, journalism, philosophy, biology, health, and politics could be seen nonchalantly walking around downtown.

Cleveland, one of the dying post-industrial metropolises normally mentioned in the same breath as Detroit and Chicago, never seemed like a bustling place to me during past visits. Aside from LeBron James, what exactly was Cleveland good for? My opinion changed by necessity after visiting during the RNC. For the few days that the media and conservative sector of America descended on the city, downtown Cleveland was as lively as Manhattan or Paris on a good day — but, importantly, without the diversity.

I often bemoan the lack of simple, social, pedestrian public life in America, killed in the womb by car culture, white flight, suburbs, Starbucks, and social atomization caused by a multitude of other factors including mass immigration and forced integration. During Cleveland’s Republican week, however, the city was pulsing with human life on every street corner, almost like a European city. I can’t imagine the 50% black city will return to that kind of real vibrancy (not the kind favored by progressives) after the convention, but that is maybe just a reason to promote more white, right-wing, conservative conventions across the country.

Prior to the convention, discussing what kinds of shootings, protests, riots, and terrorist attacks would overwhelm Cleveland on account of Trump was a real fad among the thinking class. Black Lives Matter, the Ku Klux Klan, ISIS, neo-Nazis, Black Panthers, and so on. Maybe even some “Bernie people.” Everyone was going to get in on the rioting at the RNC. Recent Islamic terrorist attacks in France were not encouraging, and massacres of police officers by lone black gunmen inspired by Black Power/Black Lives Matter ideologies in Baton Rouge and Dallas only heightened the tension.

Security in Cleveland during the week rivaled that in a Moscow airport. Stopping for a meal in a near-empty restaurant a little outside the main stretch downtown, I asked the waitress about the impact of the RNC on business. She told me Secret Service agents had already combed through the restaurant and the area multiple times, and that police officers had occupied several parking lots nearby, as well as bought out restaurants during certain times to ensure there were no crowds in certain areas.

Walking around the very center of the city, you couldn’t go a block without seeing a dozen policemen. Auxiliaries from more than a dozen states were brought in to assist the local police. I remember seeing sheriffs and state troopers from Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, California, and elsewhere — I don’t even remember if I saw an actual Cleveland cop. A crowd of thirty or more policemen in bulletproof vests or “turtle” gear was a common sight. They were often mounted on bikes or horses, just endlessly patrolling the peaceful streets full of non-locals. At any point in time, if you didn’t see a cop in front of you, it meant there was a cop right behind you.

Some lawmen who looked like Blackwater mercenaries straight from Iraq even made an appearance, peering out of long black SUVs with tinted windows, assault rifles nearly totally concealed behind car doors and windows — presumably not to spook civilians on the street too much.

As someone who provided a detailed first-hand account of the only Trump rally to have been cancelled because of violence (in Chicago), and watched online as violent agitators attacked rally-goers in Costa Mesa and San Jose, California, I was partial to the idea that the Republican convention would see some serious bloodshed. Though I was not unique in this view, I tried to temper it knowing that terrorists and agitators never attacked the events you thought they would, and always attacked the ones you didn’t expect them to. France’s peaceful UEFA soccer tournament capped off with a murderous truck attack in Nice during a fireworks display weighed firmly in my mind.

One man who confidently predicted otherwise was our very own Jim:

A long distance outside the [convention], there will be small, and exceedingly peaceful protests. Anyone unpeaceful will be hammered down so hard and fast you will scarcely get a chance to see him.

And he was completely right. Jim said there would be no violence because the many, many law enforcement officers in Cleveland would not feel pressured by left-wing politicians to “stand down” in the face of attacks or riots. Instead, the heavy presence of Donald Trump supporters and the knowledge that the Don himself was in attendance would embolden them to put down lawbreakers as soon as they identified themselves. Loitering on Public Square, surrounded by idle protesters and columns of vigilant policemen, I agreed.

I wondered whether the fact that these thousands of out-of-state policemen didn’t report to local Democratic city administrations might have influenced their behavior. Indeed, looking into the organization of the event, I found that the RNC, as a ‘National Special Security Event,’ was ultimately protected by the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security. I have no love for the DHS, but I had a good feeling that the Secret Service men with guns and families at home were really in charge, and knew it. And that they voted Trump in the privacy of a voting booth.

The overwhelming numerical dominance of Trump supporters and men in blue (and black) nipped any funny ideas from the usual suspects in the bud.

The edgiest action came from a few Communist Party USA members who burned an American flag — and set themselves on fire, if I remember correctly. Otherwise the most violent person around was Alex Jones from Infowars, whose main event was a shut-down of the Young Turks broadcasting station and a comical confrontation with Cenk Uygur. A self-aggrandizingly silent sit-down protest started in the fountain at Cleveland’s Public Square by a few blue-hairs and long-hairs almost immediately turned into an African dance slash bongo-drum session. I wish I was kidding, though the transformation was indicative of the Left as a whole and especially their attitude during the #RNCinCLE.

The dissidents I knew — nationalists, paleocons, monarchists, reactionaries, independent journalists, and realists of sex, race, politics, biology, and a thousand other topics besides — walked the streets victoriously and freely mingled with the now-establishment big Trump tent. Meet-ups, happy hours, dinners, lunches, parties, and after-parties in bars, hotels, and restaurants all across the area filled up Cleveland with samizdat activity. The 2016 RNC was the biggest alt-right meet-up I ever attended.

While it was a great feeling to be there and witness the death and rebirth of America’s political right, I am not sure I understand the significance of the event yet. It was significant without a doubt, but what the whole spectacle will mean in a year, or 10 years, or 100 years, is not for me to decide — I cannot even comprehend it. The establishment lost, and sometime between the Milo Yiannopoulos/Geert Wilders cross-over party and the back-to-back speeches of Peter Thiel and Ivanka and Donald Trump (who, 10 years ago, would never have been imagined as Republicans, let alone the headlining convention speakers), something else won.

What that thing was, or what it won, is something history will decide.

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5 Comments

  1. Dallas and baton rouge also took the bloom off the “let our democratic brothers teach those Damn republicans a lesson” attitude from the heavily unionized civil servant class. Giving them “space to destroy” and “space to vent their grievances lost its appeal. In San Jose and Chicago they were clearly union democrats first and police second .

    When I heard that we were sending 100 Michigan state police , and other states were doing the same , I figured that there would be serious law and order. MSP are very professional. They are not the “union first ” police that are found in heavily democratic big city departments.

  2. A landmark historical moment has been reached here. Not saying that it will usher in a new Golden age, or even arrest the decline of the nation. But it is an historical landmark, and an important one. Trump having kicked down the door, the new Right has taken its rightful place on the world-historical stage, while the cuckservative tradition has gracelessly exited that same stage in order to put itself in the dumpster of history in the alley out back where it belongs.

    1. I would caution you to not believe that it will — at all — be smooth sailing in the USA in terms of disruption and volatile political disagreement. We are more divided as a nation than in anytime in my 75 years on earth. Is it not clear by reading the news week after week that the “problem” for the USA is that the current value, moral and political differences are permanently “intractable” in the population and not available to solution in the usual way of compromise? All the arguments have been made in the past months with millions of words, many of them volatile and heated words, exchanged between the people mired down in this deeply divided nation. All that needs to be said, has been said and by now, everybody has had a chance to speak their mind. It should be clear to all by now that political compromise has been, and will continue to be, impossible in the US.

      Our society’s multicultural and diverse admixture has taken away what we once had in the way of commonality of purpose. Absent the commonality of purpose, compromise is impossible. Compromise in American politics requires unity of purpose, and as such is a virtue that is distinctly American. And compromise is only possible among competing interests when they can agree on an overarching goal. That has been, and will continue to be, impossible in the USA.

      At bottom line, I can now see that nobody is going to “unify” our country. The basic moral and value differences in the current divided US population are simply too great. What we really require is someone or some system that will allow the US to “Balkanize” in an effective and organized manner and try to avoid a second US Civil War.

      1. I agree that the USA right now is little more than a shopping-cart full of disparate and incongruous items with nothing in common other than the fact of sitting side-by-side in the same cart, and that there will eventually have to be a serious devolution of power if civil war is to be avoided. In the meanwhile, I hope that Trump can continue to give a voice at the level of national politics to the White working people and the new Right more generally, both of which had no representation at that level before he came around.

        1. Oh, I agree about the value of Trump’s presence in national politics however had their not been a “Trump” I believe someone else might have come forth to take that role. That said, it seems clear that the multicultural USA is moving toward what always happens to multicultural democracies which is that all multi-ethnic democracies have broken up, and almost always in cataclysmic violence. Multicultural democracies, like the USA, consist of peoples of different religions, languages, cultures, races, and nationalities. One of these groups dominates the others by naked military and police power. Nations, on the other hand, are dominated by one group that makes up a strong majority of the population. Finally and most important, nations are inherently stable while empires are always inherently unstable. Nations are naturally stable because a majority of the people mutually recognize each other as co-nationals. Multi-ethnic democracies like the current USA never achieve true internal stability. They survive only by military and police suppression and break up the minute the dominant group loses the power to shackle the country together.

          Since its initial stirrings in ancient Greece and Rome, Western political theory has developed as if the communities to which it applied were culturally homogeneous entities with securely agreed borders. Though both ancient Greece and Rome developed from simple republics into multicultural empires, their political theories remained premised on a vision of close-knit communities sharing language, culture, and religion. Surprisingly, this homogenizing bias persisted in the democratic theory that emerged in the West in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As the political theorist Michael Walzer has put it, liberal writers were “ready enough to acknowledge a plurality of interests,” but they were “strikingly unready for a plurality of cultures. One people made one state.”

          If a nation is a land of defined and defended borders, within which resides a people of a common ancestry, history, language, faith, culture, and traditions, in what sense are we Americans one nation and one people today?

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