By Samir Shukla
Ok, so the 2018 American election is still not over, at least in a neck of the North Carolina woods. The debacle of North Carolina 9th Congressional District shows how fraud can undermine the voting process. An investigation into possible election fraud is under way. Republican Mark Harris looked as though he won in the 2018 election in November, defeating Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes. Not so fast. After reviewing the numbers, the NC State Board of Elections has ordered a new election, citing irregularities among mail-in absentee ballots.
We are off to a redo. The NC State Board decided to first hold a primary election on May 14. After that, September 10 will either be the date of the runoff primary election, if it's necessary, or the general election. If a runoff primary is needed, the general election will be held November 5. The sad part is that the winner will be seated in the House of Representatives for about a year; in essence the winner will start working for reelection just as soon as being seated.
McCready is running again, unopposed in the Democratic primary, while 10 Republicans are going to fight it out in the Republican primary to get a chance to take on McCready.
Turning to the mushrooming numbers of Democrats running for president, now Beto O'Rourke has tossed his name into the ring. Joe Biden is pretty much going to run, he's just taking his time to announce. He is still a landline kind of guy.
I have said this and will continue to say that, in the end, the Democrats need a close-to-center candidate to beat Trump. I can hear the howls of left-wing Dems giving me an evil eye already. Let me put it this way, all the talk of reparations, taxing the wealthy, Medicare for all, increasing social security taxes, New Green Deal, may fire up the progressive base, but unless they are spelled out in fiscal detail, they are just talk. Primarily, even if the money is worked out, they require massive changes in people's habits, behavior, and status quo. There's a substantial number of Republicans and Conservatives looking for someone to vote for that's not named Trump. They are not going to look at the increasingly hard left turn of Democrats, just as they are turned off by the hard right turn of the Republicans.
Also, Republicans have become masters of simplifying their message where the average Joe can grab onto it. Simple words, simple concepts. I know the primaries are where the hard-progressives and hard-conservatives lurk. The Democratic candidate that can learn to balance the activists with a message of workable policy, long-term views, specific incremental changes, and, yes, fiscal responsibility, will emerge ahead of the pack, even victorious.
Imagine a Democrat talking about fiscal responsibility when the current crop of Republicans and so-called conservatives are spending money like drunken gamblers.
A simple advice to all the progressives duking it out with other progressives on social media, it's way too early, don't eat your own, it will sort out.
It's funny how we are becoming more tribal in the political sphere, but at the same time during events such as sports and music, we untangle our usual tribalism and weave a different community. A couple of Carolina or NC State fans high-fiving each other every time their team scores maybe politically polar opposite, but in that one moment, after a slam dunk, or during a soaring guitar solo in a concert, the tribes merge into a whole. Candidates that understand these commonalities will prevail.
The Democratic National Convention 2020 will be held in Milwaukee. That's a smart move as Trump flipped Wisconsin, along with Michigan and Pennsylvania (three states Hillary Clinton was expected to win) in 2016.
The decision by Democratic National Committee to not do any debates on Fox News shows a sign of weakness and, more importantly, a missed opportunity. If you want to win back independents and soft Republicans, don't preach to the choir. Go into the lion's den and defend your beliefs.
The current crops of politicians are admirable in that they want to do something big. Big economic policies and social policies. Slow down folks. You can talk of going as big as you want, but in the long-term, incremental changes tend to stick and do the greater good. Big economic changes tend to help a certain segment while screwing another segment. There is never a win-win. Social change doesn't do big and quick. It is naturally slow. That's where a stroll is better than a road race.
By Samir Shukla
India's national election is now underway. The numbers are mind boggling. There are nearly 900 million eligible voters. Think about that. It is an exercise in democracy unprecedented in human history. The closest cousin in numbers is of course the United States.
India's Election Commission has announced the elections will be held in seven phases, between April 11 and May 19, 2019. The results will be declared on May 23.
The big battle is set. Narendra Modi is running for reelection while Rahul Gandhi challenges him for the seat of Prime Minister.
Social media played a large part in Modi's rise in 2014. Now, five years later, social media, especially WhatsApp, will have a huge effect on the elections.
There's no way to conduct India's election in a single day. India's Parliamentary system has myriad political parties that must form coalitions to win and survive. United States' two-party system is not going anywhere for a while.
The world's biggest democracy and the world's most powerful democracy are brothers in arms and natural economic partners, not to mention the most diverse countries in the world.
If America's upcoming presidential election is a rumbling road race, India's national elections are a double-barreled locomotive, fully-loaded and brimming with people hanging on to every corner, compartment, doorway and rooftop, while careening toward the horizon. The awaiting future.
By Samir Shukla
Line up on the fences folks. Pull up the lawn chairs. Wait for it. Here it goes. The starting gun goes off. Bam. Vroooom…it's off to the races. Well, maybe more like a slow sprint. The engines aren't quite revving yet.
The race for the White House in 2020 is now on. Really on. Of course, it's been bubbling for a while, since the wrap of 2018 mid-term elections and now Democrats are lining up and announcing their candidacies. Elizabeth Warren was the first out the gate and now old favorite Bernie Sanders has thrown his hat into the ring, along with other senators, congress folks and a few oddballs. Joe Biden may give it a go, as well. Sanders will be formidable. If Biden runs, he will be formidable. Of course the newbies and fresh faces are elbowing each other, trying to create a narrative for their candidacies while taking hard left turns of varying degrees on policies and ideology.
Democrats have started raising funds, holding townhalls, and begun visiting the early caucus and primary states. Here we are in the swivel month of March, the juncture between chills of winter and the warm promises of spring, and the political battles are being drawn. Electioneering has begun slowly and will invariably pick up speed.
Most candidates are working to turn the Democratic Party further left. This will galvanize hard progressives while turn off moderates. For all the talk of revolution and massive policy initiatives, incremental changes have always worked better. Yes, all ye youngsters ready to light the world on fire - social, economic and political changes take hold when done in a steady, calculated manner. That's just the way it is. Revolutions have a tendency to burn out rather quickly.
Some Republicans are not quite sure of the finality of Trump's candidacy. Trump has never stopped campaigning and is, of course, confident he will be the Republican nominee. He is itching for the fight against the Democratic nominee, but it's not a sure bet that Trump will be the nominee. I would not write off a strong primary challenger to Trump in the sodden and scarred Republican fields.
Here's the basic gist. Like it or not, voters will fall into percentage camps come Election Day. About 40 percent of voters will vote for the Democrat no matter who it is. Another 40 percent or so will vote for Donald Trump, barring storms, damning revelations that sideline him, or a strong primary challenger perseveres. The point is that about 40 percent will vote for the Republican nominee.
Even in our bloodied fields of partisan wars, it is still about swaying the middle camp when it comes to the general election. Sure, both parties will caress and fuel their bases during the primaries, but once pieces fall into place, victorious candidates, yes even Trump, will do a two-step toward the center for the general election.
The midterm elections offered a message massage to both parties. The democrats feel a bit more limber with the House in their corner. The Republicans feel a little less tightness in the upper neck holding on to the Senate. Both parties received voter massages they now spin in their favor.
Here's a suggestion. It's time to loosen personal ideologies. I know that's like asking many people to stop breathing. That's alright. The American Republic needs sober voices of reason to persevere. I really couldn't care less about conservative, liberal, progressive, neoliberal, neoconservative, democratic socialist, socialist, libertarian, or any other label.
I'm a proud LibConProgertarian (Lib-con-progur-tarian). A Libertarian on Mondays, Conservative on Tuesdays, Progressive on Wednesdays, and a vegetarian all seven.
Seriously, though, ideological labels only feed tribal urges. They are simply labels that mean nothing in a globally-connected, vastly diverse population of the country. Most people are a combination of both, really, multiple ideologies, but somehow refuse to acknowledge that.
I know social progressives who are fiscally conservative, I know fiscal conservatives who are very socially progressive. Libertarians can really be the strong third party that we need, but they can't get past hyper-individualism and Ayn Rand-spewed nonsense. We are a community, no matter how you try to slice it up. I am an independent individual who can be that way because of the support of family, friends, and the larger community. It takes all to run a vibrant, peaceful, opportunity-giving neighborhood, town, school, county, state, country.
I'm convinced we are not that divided. On the surface, yes, it sure as hell looks like the country is torn apart with divisions, especially in political sphere. Sure, there's plenty evidence of regionalism, red states and blue states, states of fear and hate, a nagging discomfort over the direction of the country. The bane of our generation, social media, feeds these tribal beasts. The reality is that most Americans are reasoned and good folks. Outside obvious extremists, even those who lean hard left or hard right are essentially seeking to do well.
The reasoned majority will preserve America. They are not angry, they are exhausted. They understand differences and want logical, workable solutions. People understand that income disparities exist, subtle to overt racism and other isms exist, that getting an education and seeking health care shouldn't make one bankrupt. But they don't want to blow stuff up either, or build walls, they want to build bridges. The reasoned majority must toil harder to keep the partisans from stealing the national conversation.
In the meantime, all hail the fact checkers and those who make an effort to put the fire of truth under those who make spurious claims. Politicians, spokespersons, media, journalists, social media hacks, all benefit from the vigilance of truth.
I will dissect the madness of American political shenanigans on a regular basis while we proceed onward with Road Rage 2020. Pull up a chair and join me.
By Samir Shukla
Everyone wants everything instantly. This is the dilemma of our times. This need for instant gratification will only accelerate as technology moves exponentially forward. Access to evolving technology and our digital lives have made this need for instant gratification and instant communication an untamable beast.
Add to that the inevitable and incoming Artificial Intelligence infusion, which is intriguing and will make our lives easier in many ways. It will also contribute to reduction of common sense and instinctive intelligence that humans have evolved over the eons. Patience is no longer a virtue. This is not only true of young people; corrosive impatience afflicts pretty much all age ranges.
Of course, the ability to access instant factual information has enormous value. The prime dilemma is that instant gratification and communication also comes with a price. This need for immediacy often replaces or reduces quality with vast amounts of useless quantity, unravels patient thoughtfulness and dialogue, often reduces simple decency and, worst of all, spreads misinformation at a rapid pace. Our attention spans are getting worse due to information and sensory overload. Social media feeds this insatiable beast.
The impatience I observe among contemporary youngsters reminds me of my own impatience and restlessness at that age. The difference obviously is that we didn't have the instant access to what we were looking for and didn't instantly communicate random thoughts and emotional outbursts.
This helped in holding distrust and conflicts at bay. A slap on the face gave a bit more time to think about why you received a slap on the face. Today that slap, or simple critique, is immediately returned with a punch, even though you may have deserved that slap.
I also fall into this trap of immediacy now and then, often grabbing my phone for updates, maybe out of boredom, but usually because it is there, waiting for me to tap in. This happens even though I have turned off all notifications. It has become such a distraction that I'm now working on purposeful slowness. This slowness doesn't have to be at the cost of productivity or the basic things that need to get done during the day.
It means limiting my time on social media and taking thoughtful time to respond to queries or critiques. It means sitting face-to-face with family and friends, setting aside devices and connecting in that warmest mode of information exchange, a conversation.
We must devise pauses to technology lest it pummels us into mushy submission. Sometimes a quiet and studied pause will accomplish more than a shout or burst of action. Things unsaid during heated moments will soften conflict and endure more than blasts of emotional tit for tat hurled about either in person or in texts or messages or social media. The soft power of thoughtful dialogue seems to take a backseat to 24-hour information and news cycles. In our current climate of political and ideological grandstanding, it seems that reasonable voices are drowned out or have simply decided to not waste their breath or peace of mind.
This can change. It can change with people that form the quiet and reasoned majority becoming involved with subtlety but razor sharp focus. Those who want to connect with friends or other communities, but not wallow in the mud pits of social media, have to forge the slower paths. They must construct their own methods of slowness. Conversations caressed with facts and spoken with personal experiences that are refined with the passage of time can and will repulse negativity and falsehoods. This effort requires thoughtful slowness, layered with requisite maturity.
I often wonder and think back to a time just a couple of decades ago, just before the advent of the internet and cell phones. We did everything we do now, but there was measured pleasure in slower information. Of course, we also didn't know what was technologically possible until it happened. But comparing the times, it seems phone conversations were warmer and less hurried, good information was more valuable because it didn't come easily while bad information had to work much harder to gain ground.
Now text messages and social media posts fly at the speed of light. Isolation, distrust, hate, pettiness, and narcissism mushroom and permeate the senses like white noise.
I'm not interested in turning back the time, just turning back to slower, thoughtful connectedness. Everyone has some personal space or interest they can crawl into or draw upon to slow it down and regain focus when needed.
There's one place I can return to a slowness I love. Yes, it's very convenient to have access to music instantly on my phone, and as a fervent music lover, that's a benefit. But I'm finally working on getting my old turntable repaired and dusting off my record collection. It's been too long since I've heard the faint crackle of a record when the needle hits the vinyl, just before the song kicks in. Today, I've decided, I'm putting the needle down in the grooves on a happily spinning record, the ongoing record called life, and transport back to a time of cherished slowness.
It's a start.
By Samir Shukla
The Romani or Roma people, more commonly known as Gypsies, traveled out of India and headed westward several centuries ago.
Now, Charlotte-based musician Vadim Kolpakov and his VS Guitar Duo have assembled musicians and dancers to take the audience along a Romani (“Gypsy") Trail in the two-night performances of Gypsy Soul – A Thousand Year's Journey.
They will perform two nights, January 25 - 26, 2019 in Charlotte.
Here is the story and details as posted in Saathee, a magazine I edit...
By Samir Shukla
It was a continuation of our family's migration. One final jump. The first big jump was from Amdavad to New York City, circa 1974. We shifted to New Jersey a couple years later and then made the final family jump from the North (Yankee land as one of my southern friends called it) down to the South (a bunch of hicks as one of my northern friends called it), from New Jersey to Charlotte nearly 40 years ago. We planted our roots in Charlotte, the Queen City.
Um, Queen City, you ask? Americans continue to yield in subtle ways to their former rulers, the Brits, such as not so subtle obsessions with Royal weddings, and in the case of the city's name, a southern town named after a British royal, Queen Charlotte. The town was named before the Revolutionary war. Charlotte the city turned 250 on December 3, 2018.
Charlotte, the Queen City, of late has become the Crane City. Construction is booming all around. Old, quiet neighborhoods are being gentrified, roads are expanding, and toll highways are on the horizon. This rapid expansion has been going on for the past couple decades. Much of the first 250 years, this little southern outpost lay sleeping, factories coming and going, civil war, civil rights, until a few decades ago when reinvention and foresight of business and community leaders sent Charlotte careening forward to becoming a larger, world-class city.
Charlotte can now be named with just the first name. There's no need for a comma, followed by NC. Just Charlotte will do, thank you very much.
The Queen City we have lived in for nearly 40 years is visibly a Crane City these days. A drive down or up on I-77 showcases a jumble of cranes building this or that and the other thing. It seems most parts of the city are in a building frenzy. It's a boom town booming further. It is situated just right, the largest city between DC and Atlanta, a short drive west and you are in the mountains, a short dive east and the Atlantic Ocean beckons.
Charlotte has become hometown for our family after the initial shift, followed by years of toil and progress.
People wind up in places that become home in multiple ways once they uproot from distant lands and set up roots in new lands. Sometimes the trek is made by an ancestor on a whim or out of necessity. Other migrations are calculated; still others are driven by escape from violence and economic instability.
A place called home doesn't happen overnight. A sense of abstractions like the aura of the surroundings and a state of mind melds with concrete ethos of house, buildings, food, economy, and opportunity that get soaked into the skin and bones, and a town where one moves to, becomes the hometown. We become part of the place we live in all the while we try and make the adopted place into our heritage, instill traditions, with the necessary invention and reinvention.
Somewhere after the migrations and travels, setting up roots awakens the soul. A place once rooted with a feeling of home and belonging gives grounding to those who call it home. These roots are especially and firmly planted when your children are born in the city.
There wasn't much going on in downtown Charlotte in the late 70's and early 80's. Slowly it turned around, evolved and now we have a vibrant downtown. The Blue Line light rail cuts through it, giving easy access to the activities downtown.
The rapidity with which Charlotte has grown in the past 20 years is extraordinary. Familiar venues and landmarks are remade or are completely gone and new ones have emerged.
The other night I sat in a craft brewery, sipping a cold beer, in a building on a street once abandoned by the city, most buildings on that street boarded up for years. When we first moved to Charlotte, I would not have thought much about this street. The same street today is no longer abandoned. Many people, young and old, families and couples, frolic about the street and others connecting it through the day and night.
This is an era where once unremarkable street corners around the edges of the expanding downtown have now become highly prized morsels of real estate.
But this is about more than real estate. It is about home or, more precisely, hometown. Rootedness is a warm feeling after uprooting from native lands years earlier.
On that cold December night, in that brewery carved out of an old industrial building, beer snug in hand, I thought of a time three and a half decades earlier. Back then I wanted to “someday" skip this town and go “somewhere" else. Now, I want to skip that “somewhere" else and stay here, in my hometown.
The beer goes down easy sitting in warm surroundings, while the giant cranes stalk buildings and cast shadows onto streets like an alien invasion, remaking my hometown.
By Samir Shukla
Man, Jeff Bezos sure knows how to pull off cons. Bezos is of course CEO of Amazon and for the past year or more Amazon has been pursuing a location for their second headquarters, HQ2, if you will. Over 200 cities originally put in applications and 20 were selected as finalists. Amazon wound up picking two locations that will split its second headquarters - Long Island City, NY and Arlington, VA.
Both areas already have some of the highest numbers of Amazon employees outside of Seattle, its home base and the Bay Area. So, the big announcement about the final picks was anticlimactic. My astute guess is that Bezos already knew he was going to select these two locations as it makes sense to beef up their existing workforce.
It was never going to be Raleigh or Nashville or wherever. Amazon had cities and states salivating at the idea of a major company pulling into their area and creating thousands of jobs. Cities put together proposals and sent Amazon massive amounts of valuable data, absolutely free, that the company will now use to sell more trinkets online. Amazon extracted some 1.5 billion dollars' worth of concessions and tax breaks from New York alone. Hey, New Yorkers, Amazon needs you more than you need Amazon.
Folks, this was all about free publicity, free data mining, and getting cities to cough up massive tax breaks and incentive packages as they try and land Amazon. I call it the Great Amazon Con. I'm betting Amazon had already decided on these two locations months earlier, or even before they announced they were seeking HQ2. Amazon received tens of millions of dollars of free publicity with the ploy. They received vast caches of valuable data given up freely by cities.
Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking. How do you know this? Ok, admittedly I don't have proof that they would have picked these two locations anyway. But anyone with the capacity to see through the hype can spot the con a mile away. If not, I've got a NY bridge to sell you. Cheap. You see it connects these two boroughs…oh, never mind.
Amazon didn't become a dominant company by luck. Bezos is clearly a marketing genius with the foresight to see the advantages of changes in technology and buying habits years before most. Amazon has become a behemoth that doesn't need tax breaks. It can buy some of the smaller cities that were vying for its HQ2.
Small businesses and startups struggle to raise funds, get tax breaks, yet Amazon can just belch and cities will line up to give them money.
Amazon recently announced they would pay $15 per hour to employees. This was no charity on their part, you can thank Bernie Sanders for putting the pressure on them. Of course, the positive effect of this will be that many other companies will announce better, living wages if only as a PR move.
By Samir Shukla
There are no magic wands to eliminate the scourge of sexual or physical assaults. There is, though, a one-word marker associated with most violence, assaults, wars, and self-destruction. That word is testosterone. Let's face it, the prime instigators of violence of all sorts is the male gender. Males are responsible for 95 percent (my educated guess, but I'm sure it's close to that figure) of the violence, assaults, and domestic abuse around the world. Period. This is not an attack on my own gender. I'm simply stating reality.
The recent circus surrounding Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh's alleged assault is almost beside the question. Who you believed in the “she said, he said" drama is beside the question. Maybe one day we will know the truth of that specific matter. The dilemma of assaults and harassment goes deeper. It must be dealt with from this day forward. The reality is that males assault girls and women. Males also assault boys and other men. Males kill children, women, and men at a much larger percentage then women doing the same. This is the sad truth of my gender, which is largely codified by testosterone.
What can be done to tame this testosterone? Growing solid, ethical men from boys, able to restrain their testosterone-fueled aggression is the call of the time. Of course not all men and boys are violent, but even the most respected and seemingly stable males can have hidden, suppressed violence in them.
I have never assaulted a female or another male, but my testosterone is an invisible devil. It tests my restraint daily. We teach our sons values and morals, but the fuel of testosterone can test even the most restrained man. It's also a biological fact that most males remain prisoners of sexual imagination all their lives. I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge to quick glances at attractive women while swirls of sensuous thoughts invade my brain, even for the briefest moment. This has been going on since the onset of puberty and will continue. I would never physically act on those, outside of consent, but the flickers of thought do appear and pass. Sexual assaults aren't about pleasure; they are about aggression and power over a weaker individual.
Many can't contain and quarantine aggression in their minds, and, sometimes with the assistance of alcohol, aggression or violence can rear its ugly head. Fists clench so easily, but clapping them open requires an ability to channel an immediate calm. It's not easy.
We must continue to teach our sons that no means no. We must teach our daughters the steadfast power of self-worth and dignity. They must protest and speak up if harassed or assaulted. It's that simple. This doesn't have to mean the death of romance or the death of boy chasing girl, the death of love or even sensuality. It is simply about consent. Mutual pleasure and lifelong intimacy need not be victims of social realignments and moral improvements.
We have plenty of laws against assault and violence. Moral conduct and societal norms are supposed to help neutralize some of this violence. But males do it anyway. Males also assault and kill in the name of religion; this is the most offensive weakness of all. Females are no less corruptible to the seduction of power and money, but they are surely less corruptible to the seduction of violence. Women and girls around the world are coming forward with their accounts of harassment or assault, and that's a good thing. In lands of laws, these can be worked out judiciously, in public forums and courts. Any claims can be adjudicated, and punished or rejected as judged. There are a record number of women running for office during this mid-term election. That's a good thing. Some of that is due to amoral leaders as well as aggregation of grievances.
One part of a long-term solution may be in assault education, which can be taught alongside sex education or as standalone. Assault education can be taught, say, every two years as boys grow into men, starting in middle school, but maybe as early as elementary school. This can be done with properly coordinated programs by inviting assault victims to come and tell their stories, which can bring to life the emotional and physical toll of assaults. It just may add a sense of pause in young boys', and later men's, minds. It may increase aggression control, a tool to fetch when moments of aggression emerge, especially when unleashed with the assist of alcohol, and help them take a breath and a step back. Much future violence may be then reduced.
We will never have a world 100 percent free of violence, crime, and corruption. Mothers, fathers, mentors, guardians, gurus, teachers, family members, and friends can work cohesively to minimize those destructive ills.
By Samir Shukla
Red Baraat: Sound the People
(Rhyme & Reason Records)
Dhol maestro and bandleader Sunny Jain and company return again with a jovial recording of Punjabi folk, bhangra, and dance music stitched with horns and good times. Red Baraat began as a band accompanying wedding processions (baraat) and over the years has become renowned for their funky recordings and rousing live shows. The band has tightened the sound paring down from an eight piece to a six piece ensemble. The newest recording, Sound the People, comes stacked with nine unique tracks.
The album features guests Heems (Das Racist / Swet Shop Boys), Pakistani singer Ali Sethi, comedian John Hodgman and poet/activist Suheir Hammad.
The song “Next Level" kicks off the album with its spunky horns and the dhol rolling right along. “Kala Mukhra (ft. Ali Sethi)" is a take on legendary Pakistani singer Iqbal Bano's “Gora Mukhra" (white face) where the band changed the lyrics to Kala (black) to intone the brown ethos of the band and commentary on contemporary social mores. The band offers a cover in the instrumental version of the song from the movie of the same name “Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai" (It's my friend's wedding), which is apropos since Red Baraat began as a wedding band.
“Vibrations (ft. Suheir Hammad)" is spoken word poetry with the band laying down a background track. The title track “Sound the People" (featuring Heems) is a mix of hip hop and the band's Punjabi folk punch with politically-charged lyrics and the band sounding full and in charge. “Moray Gari Suno" is an instrumental with a tropical, island feel.
“Ghadar Machao" is a call to activism with Punjabi and Spanish lyrics with the horns leading the charge. Another classic Bollywood song is given the Red Baraat treatment in the classic song from the film Sholay, “Holi Ke Din," which brings out memories of playing Holi and dancing in the streets with horns and the dhol bringing the party. The album closes with “Punjaub March (ft. John Hodgman)" an eclectic number that's bit of acquired taste with jarring horns and percussion wrapped with a carnival-like barker/preacher rambling.
By Samir Shukla
Charlotte will host the Republican National Convention in 2020, leading up to what is sure to be the most heated and divisive election in American history. The Charlotte City Council narrowly (by vote of 6-5) approved the convention at their meeting in mid-July.
My hats off to Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles. An African-American, female, Democratic mayor of a progressive city went out on a limb to host the convention of an opposing party whose most powerful politician is a decidedly amoral man, to say the least. Barring unforeseen political storms, the 2020 convention will be Donald Trump's coronation to seek a second term as President.
It is the Mayor's job to showcase her city and help bring conventions and businesses for its citizens. Making an effort to bring such an event to one's city, batting for someone as divisive as Trump, while putting one's reputation at stake takes guts.
Mayor Lyles won no political points with her Democratic base while pursuing the RNC. Some Charlotte City Council members had a change of heart at the last minute but after much ping-ponging back and forth, a slim majority gave the green light to the convention and preparations are now well under way.
Sure, large protests and potential for violence will be there. But democrats, progressives, NeverTrumpers, Conservatives and Republicans looking to stop Trump (yes they are out there) and others should take a deep breath, welcome the RNC, be good hosts, take the money spent around the city and use it for their own political gains. That would be the smart thing to do.
The stupid thing would be to not serve Republican attendees or leaders when they come to your restaurant in an effort to make some kind of point. That type of self-backpatting doesn't further your cause. Of course, we are still two years away from the event. Let's see what transpires. I will write more about RNC 2020, DNC 2020 and other political matters as they unfurl in detail later.
Right now the lights are on and the fights are in full swing for the 2018 election in November. Once that is over, and the new makeup of Congress is established, we can pretty much expect the 2020 election to gear up almost immediately.
Charlotte also hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2012, where President Obama officially accepted his nomination for the Democratic Party to contest for his 2nd term. That event brought international spotlight to Charlotte. The city has grown considerably since then and will continue to grow. A true world-class city welcomes all.
The location for the Democratic National Convention for 2020 is yet to be finalized.
Let the games begin.