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.