Laura Washington: ‘Trumpocalypse’ descends on Cleveland

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Workers put final touches on Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, home to this week’s Republican National Convention. Photo by Mark J. Terrill, AP.

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This week’s Republican National Show (um, Convention) kicks off Monday. With Donald J. Trump as its impresario and star, expect a cross between “The Apprentice,” “Miss Universe” and Ultimate Fighting Championship.

How can Illinois’ most prominent and powerful GOP leaders stay away?

But they must. Gov. Bruce Rauner, the de facto leader of the Illinois Republican Party, will not attend.


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No U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who is staying home to campaign and fundraise. He’s got a tough re-election bid. Trump’s not helping.

Kirk Dillard, now the chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority and a 2014 gubernatorial candidate, won’t be under the big tent. Why? Reporters inquired at a news conference last week. Dillard smiled and walked away.

Even Ron Gidwitz, the wealthy businessman and prominent GOP money guy, won’t be in Cleveland. Last week, Gidwitz spearheaded a $1 million fundraising luncheon for Trump in Chicago. This week, he’s got other travel plans.

There’s another unspoken terrifying reason why Republican stalwarts, from the elected elites to the dutiful door-knockers, are staying away.


Last week’s headlines tell the tale.

“Combustible Atmosphere Emerges Ahead of the RNC,” reported The Boston Globe.

“Security Fears Mount Ahead of Republican Convention,” said

“Ahead of GOP Convention, Cleveland Officials Affirm Protesters May Carry Guns,” noted

Cleveland is headed for a “Trumpocalypse,” headlined “The city and its police are bracing for catastrophe — and fighting over who will shoulder the blame.”

The most unconventional GOP nominee in U.S. history may preside over its most dangerous convention in history.

Since Trump launched his campaign a year ago, his rhetoric and policy positions have stoked hot coals. He has attacked, insulted and condemned most of America, including Muslims, Latinos, immigrants, the disabled, LGBT people and women.

Trump has been honing a “law and order” campaign theme. He promises a strongman presidency that will “make America safe again.”

It’s a message designed to capitalize on the fear, uncertainty and racial tensions spawned by recent mass shootings and violence from Orlando to Dallas to Nice, France.

“I am the law and order candidate!” Trump declared during a campaign speech in Virginia Beach, Virginia, four days after the murder of the five policemen in Dallas.

“Our inner cities are rife with crime,” he asserted, noting “there has already been more than 2,000 — 2,000 shooting victims in Chicago alone this year.”

The next day, Trump tweeted: “This election is a choice between law, order & safety — or chaos, crime & violence. I will make America safe again for everyone.”

Reacting to the Bastille Day truck attack that killed 84 in Nice, Trump told Fox News: “It’s going to be a whole different world. We’re living in a whole different world. There is no respect for law and order. There is no respect for anything or anybody. And this has to be dealt with very harshly.”

It’s a provocative message that will rally Trump followers, from angry working-class white males to racist supremacists, but repel people of color and anyone else who rejects the politics of fear.

It’s a message that will be received in different ways, by the police, civic leaders, activists, delegates, and yes, potential troublemakers.

It’s a message that lays the groundwork for incendiary conflicts among the dozens of interest groups descending on Cleveland.

Republicans may stay away, but they can’t escape the consequences.


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