This morning, I heard an NPR story about the Republican National Convention that opens today. The interview featured Republicans in various stages of enthusiasm about their presidential candidate. But most of them, like Paul Ryan, can’t seem to bring themselves to speak affirmatively of Donald Trump. Instead, they say that they prefer him to Hillary Clinton. Though I couldn’t disagree more, I feel sorry for these voters. For all of my life, I’ve been blessed to cast presidential votes for candidates whom I actually believe in. I’m not naive about politics or our American history, but I believe in the promise that lies at the heart of our Constitution. That promise is more important than ever this summer, even as it it seems more elusive than I’d like.
In a nation that feels fragile and tense as a result of gun violence at the hands of the state and our fellow citizens, it seems especially risky to open a convention built around the idea that we should elect Donald Trump to become our next president. The man is a thoughtless spectacle. His rhetoric has never seemed unifying or inspiring, two things this nation badly needs right now. He seems as self-absorbed as a middle schooler, a comparison that is gravely unfair to middle schoolers. I won’t watch the nightly speeches at the convention, though I will read about it and listen to to much of the NPR coverage. I’m hoping that I won’t recoil in horror as the speeches unfold, but that seems an over-optimistic stretch.