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Seeing Cleveland through fresh eyes

The Republican National Committee has selected Cleveland to host the 2016 party nominating convention. This was not an obvious choice. For one thing, while Ohio is a swing state and somewhat conservative in general, the Cleveland area is one that is a liberal Democratic stronghold in which minorities dominate. The only competitive elections here are those in the Democratic primaries.

Given that the Republican party stands for much that the people in this area vehemently oppose, one might wonder why the Republican party would want to meet in a place where they might encounter hostility. But I don’t think that there will be any unpleasantness. For one thing, the people here are generally very friendly and hospitable. For another, conventions now have put in place a lot of restrictions to prevent any confrontations, with protesters cordoned off in designated areas that are far away from where the convention delegates reside and meet. While the US Supreme Court has deemed that not allowing protesters to get right in the face of women seeking abortions is a violation of their free speech rights, the sensitivities of delegates to political conventions are so delicate that they can be shielded from opposing views.

Cleveland is not perceived as a glamor destination or a major tourist attraction and this has led some people to decry the choice as not very exciting. But with so many guests at our daughter’s wedding who were visiting for the first time, I took some of them on tours of the city and it made me realize what a pleasant place it now is. When we first moved here in 1989, it was rather a depressed-looking area with lots of urban blight and I had still thought of it that way. But although the population has decreased since then, the city itself has undergone major improvements in many parts of it and looks very nice.

I only realized how much it had improved when my relatives from London (UK) and Auckland (New Zealand) commented on how green, tree-filled, and pretty the town was, words that one does not normally associate with Cleveland. It is true that the area where I live and the area that I work (known as University Circle) are particularly nice areas and the drive from there to downtown and the lake waterfront is vastly improved from a decade ago so they did not see everything, but it took seeing the city through a visitor’s eyes for me to appreciate it more.

With the convention now a done deal, one can expect that there will be other improvements, such as fixing the roads and sprucing up the downtown area. Unlike big sporting events like the Olympics and the World Cup, political conventions do not lead to the construction of white elephants, so many of the improvements should benefit the residents as well.

Comments

  1. moarscienceplz says

    While the US Supreme Court has deemed that not allowing protesters to get right in the face of women seeking abortions is a violation of their free speech rights, the sensitivities of delegates to political conventions are so delicate that they can be shielded from opposing views.

    Yeah, funny how that works.

  2. coragyps says

    Hell, the Cuyahoga River doesn’t even catch fire any more! What fun can Cleveland possibly be without that?

  3. machintelligence says

    The Republicans have not carried the state where their convention was held since 1992. Perhaps they are anxious to extend their losing streak. (They carried Texas in 1992, but still lost the presidency to Clinton.)

  4. Frank says

    My office is on East 9th Street directly opposite the Gateway complex where the convention will be held. While it is very unlikely that I will be voting for the Republican nominee, I am really looking forward to the convention. It will be interesting to see how the convention-goers interact with Clevelanders and vice-versa.

  5. says

    While the US Supreme Court has deemed that not allowing protesters to get right in the face of women seeking abortions is a violation of their free speech rights, the sensitivities of delegates to political conventions are so delicate that they can be shielded from opposing views.

    Watch out Jon Stewart! Sweet zinger.

  6. blarg says

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the “improvements” left behind after the convention were less filling potholes and more buying military surplus equipment for the police department to keep those protesters in check. That seems more fitting a legacy for a Republican convention anyhow.

  7. Francisco Bacopa says

    The 1992 Convention in Houston did nothing to help Houston except make strippers a lot of money. But not that much money, as they flew in a lot of outside talent. The South Main, Loop 610 area remained as sleazy as ever. it got better only when Mayor Bill White got light rail service down there.

    Bill White ran against Perry for governor against Perry a few years ago. I thought his media exposure from Hurricane Ike might make him defeat Perry. He was the perfect candidate: Soft spoken bald white guy who fought hurricanes and once held a powerful Federal appointment. Bill White seemed a perfect Perry beater, most competent and harmless white guy ever, but Perry crushed him. Houston has since moved on to elect the world’s most powerful lesbian, Annise Parker. She’s been an OK mayor, but she has few prospects for her future. You’d think she could easily win a US house seat from the Houston area, but Gerrymandering has made things such that there isn’t really such a thing as a congressional seat from the Houston area. Given our population you’d think we could influence 3-6 US Congress seats. As things stand we get two seats. Houston has almost zero influence in the US Congress even though we are damn fuckin’ huge.

    Bill White’s failure brings to mind Wendy Davis. I support Davis, but the candidate who really matters is Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor. Lt Gov is a strong office in Texas and I think some people will vote against Wendy and for Leticia. Van de Putte speaks very high class Catalan-influenced Mexican Spanish. As a minus, she speaks Texas Border English as her main dialect . This is a highly ordered dialect, but it is very heavy on prepositions and logical particles. Some Texans may refuse to understand her.

  8. Mano Singham says

    I learned just recently about the strange situation in Texas where the Lieutenant Governor’s position is unusually powerful.

  9. Reginald Selkirk says

    With the convention now a done deal, one can expect that there will be other improvements, such as fixing the roads and sprucing up the downtown area.

    Ironic, isn’t it? Infrastructure spending to impress folks who generally oppose infrastructure spending.

  10. jimmyfromchicago says

    “World’s most powerful lesbian” is a much better job title than “Mayor of Houston.” I’d put that on my business cards if I were her.

  11. DonDueed says

    I grew up in Lorain, and always felt that it was really unfair that Cleveland was the butt of so many jokes. Sure, it had its problems like any large city (and they got much worse when so many industries shut down due to offshoring and other social changes in the 70s and 80s), but it also has many great advantages.

    A world-class symphony orchestra. Terrific museums. The lake, with all its sporting and recreation possibilities. The rock and roll hall of fame (since my time, but I paid a visit recently and enjoyed it immensely). Three major professional sports franchises. Top-notch universities and medical institutions.

    Cleveland is no laughingstock, and never was if you bothered to look past the surface.

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