On Monday, the Republican National Convention got underway in Charlotte, North Carolina — and even before it shifts into high gear with a lineup of primetime speakers in the evening, the contrast with last week’s Democratic convention is stark. Take, for example, the roll call.
At the traditional in-person political conventions in years past, delegates declared their states’ votes for party nominee from the convention floor. Last week, though, the DNC had some fun with the format, and the result was a delightful highlight reel showcasing the diversity of all 57 states and territories. Also, there was a delicious-looking platter of calamari. As Vox’s Anna North noted:
[The] format allowed states and territories to show all Americans their history, like Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell’s speech from the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, or the Oklahoma delegation’s capsule history of the Tulsa race massacre; their connection to presumptive nominee Joe Biden, like Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey’s speech in front of the former VP’s old house in Scranton; and sometimes their quirkier side, like Rhode Island’s state appetizer, calamari.
The RNC opted for ... not that. While the DNC roll call showcased the diversity of America and made a point of featuring Indigenous people, Black and Hispanic Americans, activists, and LGBTQ people, the RNC roll call was a procession dominated by older white men, all in front of a white background emblazoned with #RNC2020.
The stark lack of diversity wasn’t the only eccentric moment to come out of the RNC roll call — Vox’s Aaron Rupar has plenty more here — but it sharply underscores the fact that the GOP is an increasingly white party. In the 116th Congress, for example, there are 56 Black lawmakers, and just two of them are Republicans. A similar proportion exists when it comes to gender: There are 131 women in this Congress, and just 24 are members of the Republican Party.
Part of this is because the RNC started planning the virtual aspect of the convention much later
It’s also a good reminder that conventions aren’t all that easy to plan, and the DNC got a head start. Case in point: In June, the Democratic National Committee settled on a mostly virtual event; Republicans moved theirs to Jacksonville, Florida, with the coronavirus still raging. By the time the GOP saw the writing on the wall in late July and canceled the Florida portion of the convention, they were in a time crunch.
Now, the contrast between back-to-back convention weeks promises to be striking. The DNC was slickly produced and frequently uplifting, if at times unavoidably strange in the midst of a pandemic. As Rupar writes:
Whether the RNC will end up going similarly smoothly remains to be seen. But one thing that can be said is that if Trump wanted to have an in-person convention this month, he needed to do the work back in February, March, and April. Instead, he spent that time insisting the virus would go away on its own and passing the buck to governors who lack the resources and jurisdictional authority to handle a pandemic that has shuttered economies and spread like wildfire across state boundaries.
So now, instead of serving as a symbol of Trump’s successes, the RNC will serve as a symbol of everything he’s done wrong.
If Monday’s roll call — and Trump’s accompanying tweeting — is anything to judge by, though, the RNC will be a very different event from the DNC.
New goal: 25,000
In the spring, we launched a program asking readers for financial contributions to help keep Vox free for everyone, and last week, we set a goal of reaching 20,000 contributors. Well, you helped us blow past that. Today, we are extending that goal to 25,000. Millions turn to Vox each month to understand an increasingly chaotic world — from what is happening with the USPS to the coronavirus crisis to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work — and helping everyone make sense of an increasingly chaotic world. Contribute today from as little as $3.