Dispatches from Cleveland: Tuesday’s Night of Firsts

Dispatches from Cleveland: Tuesday’s Night of Firsts

By Ken Reid.

Mr. Reid, a former Leesburg District Supervisor, is reporting from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland where he is participating as an alternate delegate representing Virginia. The Tribune is inviting similar coverage from a participant at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia that will follow.

Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention was a night of firsts. Coupled with the Trump campaign’s theme, “Make America Work Again,”  signs were handed out reading “Make Manufacturing Happen Again” and “Trump Digs Coal,” a reference to the candidate’s push to restore coal jobs.

As delegates gathered for the Roll Call of the States, there was significant enthusiasm in the “Q” (Quicken Loans Arena), as the Republican Party – for the first time since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 – was about to nominate a New Yorker and one who has never served in elected office – Donald J. Trump.

Ike was president of Columbia University at the time of his nomination.  The party was divided, with delegates split between the traditional conservative/isolationist faction led by Sen. Robert Taft of Ohio, and Eisenhower, representing a more moderate internationalist movement.

It took Gov. Harold Stassen of Minnesota throwing his delegates to Ike so he could get the nomination.

The Republican Party was transformed, became the dominant party in the 1950s, and went mainstream.  And of course, the Goldwater/Reagan revolution in the 1960s and then 1980s changed it to a conservative course.  Now, Donald Trump has the chance to make this a “movement” to move the GOP away from divisive social issues and focused more on jobs, better trade deals, helping our inner cities and reducing the negative influence  of special interests.

Ashburn resident and convention delegate Subba Kolla read Virginia’s results before a national audience.

Subba is the first Indian-American to serve as a delegate to a Republican convention from Virginia.  He offered the Indian greeting “Namaste” and spoke eloquently as his fellow Virginians listened.

The Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and other immigrants to Loudoun have energized our economy.  In Loudoun, and probably elsewhere, they have helped make our schools great.

Indians and Muslims in Loudoun will back Republicans like Ramadan and Supervisor Matt Letourneau in great numbers, but in national elections, they generally vote Democrat.  So, Republicans like Subba are helpful for us to “grow the party.”

No doubt, the overwhelming majority of delegates and alternates here are white – and male.  But there are also African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, Indians and Jews like me.

Virginia delegate Bill Cleveland, a former Alexandria vice mayor,  told our delegation breakfast yesterday that the problem with the Republican Party is “they show up in the black community three months before the election.”  Cleveland should know. He was elected in an overwhelmingly Democratic city because he was involved with the community 24/7.

But he tells me that even if Trump gets just 10 percent of the African American vote this year, he could actually win.

Loudoun is a bell weather county and the latest polls show Trump has narrowed the gap. And, because I do not have access to much news sitting in the convention arena, I learned that when I ran into Eric Trump.

Security around the Trump family is tight, but we Virginia alternates are sitting right above the Fox News “Election HQ” booth, so we see the celebrities and media talking heads up close.

Donald Trump Jr. and his step sister, Tiffany, stole the show last night with rousing speeches, and many of us saw a political future for them – especially Donald Trump Jr.

Gov. Chris Christie’s “guilty or not guilty” speech also electrified the audience.

Tonight, we will see if Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, in his speech, will endorse Trump.