One guess: Imagine you are the maven convention and visitor office for a sizable city with the tourist infrastructure to handle large meetings. An organization that actively seeks to undermine the operational integrity of American democracy wants to meet in your city and calls on you to research the kind of deal on room nights and meeting space you organize for large groups. . Do you bite? Maybe so, if you are morally obtuse enough to view the management of the city’s tourism brand as an ethically neutral business.
Not so hypothetical: Site selection for the 2024 party’s national conventions is underway, and the Nashville tourism and industrial complex has made it known that it will host the 2024 Republican National Convention in Music City. Butch Spyridon, who runs the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (yes “Corp” with no period for who the hell knows what reason), said the CVC submitted an offer to the Republican National Committee in December at the request of Governor Bill Lee. According to Nashville Mayor John Cooper agrees with the effort to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Under normal circumstances, hosting a Republican convention could be a point of cultural and civic pride for Nashville: a blue city embracing the quadrennial political celebration of Red America in a warm embrace across the aisle (hands down Broadway?). But “normal” the GOP of 2022 is anything but: a party not only fueled by rejections of democracy (and science), but led by them and completely infected by them; a party whose self-defined future in power rests on the fact that it will be more difficult for people who might not vote for them to vote for anyone.
I don’t paint the GOP with a brush of authoritarianism because of the ramblings of a few fringe members: the party leaders are fully involved. Even RNC president Ronna McDaniel refused to recognize Joe Biden as president until recently, still won’t say Biden’s election was legitimate, won’t criticize efforts to block congressional certification of the 2020 results, and has done nothing to slow the reduction in state-by-state voter access by the GOP.
Should cities take the ethical value judgments of convention business partners into account in the choices they make about the meetings they bid for and the deals they enter into? Of course, they should just like any business should consider the moral significance of any business transaction.
Butch Spyridon from CVC disagrees. In a professional demonstration of moral poverty, Spyridon said the role of his organization is to “book conventions for Nashville without bias.” He adds that it is “not appropriate for the CVC to pick the groups that meet in Nashville.” This attempt to make CVC look like Switzerland does not pass the smell test.
Hey Butch: When you receive an inquiry about the National Alliance convention (“No civilization has ever survived racial mixing … we want to lay the groundwork for a healthy white nation to emerge from the chaos to come”) or the American Freedom Party (“we seek to end the ongoing war on European masculinity … it’s the men who have to lead, and if the men are no longer masculine, they will be ineffective leaders”), answer you on call? Do you book their meetings “without bias”? Are you helping the Southern League (“we are in the early stages of a war for the survival of whites”) negotiate a hotel block?
If, as the head of the CVC, you don’t pick the groups that meet in Nashville, you should find another line of work. Of course, it’s easy (and good) to morally disengage if urologists and oncologists both want to use the convention center on the same weekend. But when white supremacists arrive, it’s your job to develop a moral backbone and tell them to fuck off. The same is true, I argue, for a major political party that actively works to undermine the very political system that its convention is meant to promote.
And if the convention and visitors bureau doesn’t have the courage to refuse to do business with protofascism, then maybe a mayor with principle (and a backbone) will. But wait, Nashville’s is already “on board”. What he would have to say if he had any moral leadership capacity: “Turn your party into something that promotes democracy and accepts science, then we can talk about having your convention here.”
Let me warn any First Amendment freakout here. Yes, a city offering a platform for expression cannot restrict access based on the point of view, so if it is a parade permit that the GOP wants, they can have it. . But the city is not obliged to enter into one contract because it has entered into another. The CVC (a private non-profit that contracts with Metro but is not Metro) doesn’t need to offer the NRA and Planned Parenthood the same deal to hold a meeting here, and they don’t. don’t have to respond to a request for a party convention proposal if they don’t want to.
Under normal circumstances, holding a national political convention would be a point of pride, but the GOP of 2022 is a party whose self-defined future in power depends on how difficult it is for people who might not vote for them to vote for them. anybody. And even if that wasn’t the case, we shouldn’t bid on the Democrat either: these conventions are nightmares.
It should be mentioned that according to Spyridon Lee asked the CVC to bid on the agreements of the two parties, but it is an absurd posture: even Governor Clueless has the minimum of sensitivity to know that the Democrats will not place theirs in a city whose blue citizens are about to be politically deprived of his rights by nasty Tennessee Republicans.
But even if it didn’t, to be fair, we shouldn’t be bidding for the Democratic convention either. Let’s face it, these conventions are nightmares. Sure, they put paying humans in hotel rooms and restaurants, which is pretty much all Butch Spyridon and the CVC don’t care, but they turn a city’s downtown into a police state. . As we saw with the last pre-pandemic RNC in Cleveland in 2016, a convention will secure a “special security event” designation from the Department of Homeland Security, putting federal authorities in charge, militarizing local police for crowd control and suppressing unrest, and making the area around the site of the convention a hostile territory for freedom of expression and civil liberties. No need.
So Republicans, until you find a way to transform yourself back into a functioning political party with a government agenda that values (or at least doesn’t actively devalue) consensual democracy, how about taking it? your convention business elsewhere.