This week’s Republican National Convention promises to rival the circus. You’ll see politicians playing acrobats, walking a tightrope and doing backflips for the nominee. You’ll see wild animals roaring at the crowd (and occasionally making a mess on the floor).
And clowns? Boy, will there be plenty of clowns.
Going into the convention, Republicans are in complete disarray. The convention will reflect that. By all accounts, it is a mess, with a bizarre list of speakers and a shortage of funds. However, as anyone who has ever watched a reality show knows, disasters can make for great–or cringe-worthy–viewing. This time out is bound to make Clint Eastwood’s address to an empty chair at the 2012 convention look brilliant in comparison. Here are five things to look for in Cleveland this week.
1. Peter Thiel’s warped logic
Never one to shy away from giving aid and comfort to the enemy, openly gay billionaire Peter Thiel will be speaking at the convention. It’s an odd decision for a man who doesn’t believe freedom and democracy are “compatible.” Whether Thiel will push some of his pet ideas, like sea-steading, is unclear. But whatever he says, you can guarantee it will be a head-scratcher. His peers in Silicon Valley are already none too pleased, and Facebook, on whose board he serves and which made him filthy rich, already issued a statement distancing itself from him.
2. Antigay conservatives run amok
Since Trump couldn’t be bothered dealing with policy choices, the GOP now has the most antigay platform ever. The antigay right is clearly running the show in Cleveland, at least when it comes to the tone of the convention, so you can bet that there will be plenty of time devoted to bashing marriage equality, transgender rights while pushing already discredited conversion therapy. You’re also likely to hear a lot of folks wrapping themselves in the mantle of victimhood. Time to party like it’s 1992 all over again!
3. Mike Pence defending religious liberty
In introducing himself to the nation as Trump’s running mate, Pence said that he was “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” In order to motivate the base, Pence will throw every possible sop from the podium, and chief among them will probably be a defense of “religious liberty.” Never mind Pence’s disastrous entanglement with Indiana’s religious liberty bill last year, from which his ratings in the polls never fully recovered. Pence will insist on returning to the scene of the crime, even if he was the corpse.
4. Shilling for Trump brands
Trump can’t even introduce his choice for vice president without boasting about his real estate. Do you think he’s going to let four nights of prime time escape without trying to make a buck off of the opportunity? Look for lots of mentions about his fabulous properties. There may even be a plug for new products, like a Trump University for Political Leadership. For $30,000, you’ll learn to make things up.
5. Missing Republicans
There may be more Democrats outside in the streets protesting than there will be Republican leaders inside the convention hall. In a classic case of rats deserting a sinking ship, GOP politicians–particularly those up for re-election–are finding every possible excuse not to go to Cleveland. The best reason goes to Sen. Ben Sasse, who has been vocal in his disdain for Trump.
Sasse’s office says he going to “take his kids to watch some dumpster fires across the state.”