Protests On The Republican Convention Floor Show A Party More Divided Than Ever
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump is a controversial figure both in and out of his party, and throughout the past year, he’s inspired no shortage of protests. Progressive activists have infiltrated his rallies or protested outside of them to call out his language and proposals on Mexican immigrants, Muslims, women, and black people, most notably shutting down a Chicago Trump rally in March. But commotion at the Republican convention also shows deep division within the party, as anti-Trump protesters pushed for a roll call vote to change the nominating rules to avoid nominating Trump.
When the convention commenced Monday afternoon in Cleveland, a police union advised Ohio Governor and former Republican presidential candidate John Kasich to suspend the state’s open carry policy for safety in light of convention protests. Heavy reports that activists from groups like Black Lives Matter or pro-Palestine group Code Pink stressed peaceful protest on social media, but other groups affiliated with both parties, promised to be armed, according to Fortune. Still, some of the greatest unrest is taking place on the floor of the convention among Republican delegates and officials.
Delegates loudly chanted “roll call,” “USA,” and other phrases that couldn’t be identified, with some being escorted out of the Quicken Loans arena for rowdiness. The party’s chairman, Reince Priebus, tried and failed to prevent the roll call vote, and although the vote ultimately failed, this unprecedented push to block a nominee is a significant blow to Trump and his campaign.
Many Republicans have been critical of Trump for a lot of reasons, from his minimal actual connections to the party, to his sharp criticisms of their “establishment” leadership, to his plain lack of maturity and professionalism. Meanwhile, more moderate Republicans are unwilling to support a candidate who has consistently used such crass, offensive language and proposed such radical ideas, like building a wall next to Mexico (a policy adopted in the platform itself) and banning Muslims from entering the U.S. Last summer, he was uninvited to a conservative conference for his grossly sexist comments about Fox News host Megyn Kelley. Latino Republicans have been some of Trump’s most vocal critics, calling on other Republicans to disavow him.
Hard-line, evangelical conservatives, on the other hand, think Trump is liberal on abortion for his past pro-choice record and support for exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother and, additionally, doubt his authenticity as a Christian. (Which is warranted considering how little he actually seems to know about the Bible.)
While these great divides within the Republican party are only being highlighted now because of Trump, they’ve always loomed, and it appears all it took was one loud-mouthed, racist bully to reach a breaking point. It’s worth noting that while some party constituents are more moderate than others and condemn Trump’s blatant bigotry, the party’s policies have always been detrimental to women, minorities, and all groups Trump hasn’t shied from marginalizing. The outcry of moderate Republicans against Trump isn’t because they actually care about minority groups enough to support policies that would be to their benefit, but because Trump’s loud, open intolerance is a poor reflection of their party.
The divide between moderates and Tea Party extremists has been emphasized by their different reactions to Trump, but their huge differences on hot-button social issues like gay marriage and abortion have been highlighted by all of this year’s former Republican presidential candidates. Kasich, a more moderate Republican, took a rather apathetic stance on gay marriage, accepting the Supreme Court’s June 2015 ruling, while Texas Senator Ted Cruz essentially declared it his life goal to see it overturned. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is far from pro-choice, but he essentially, and rightfully, called Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio crazy for their refusal to support any exceptions for abortion.
The past year saw plenty of contentious conflicts within the Democratic Party, but the disagreements on campaign finance and accusations of favoritism seem small relative to the huge differences within the Republican Party and its constituents’ visions for the future, put on full display by dissent over Trump right up to his nomination.
Fundamental and irreconcilable differences exist between the Republican and Democratic parties, such as the role of religion in government, whether or not women are human beings deserving of autonomy over their bodies, whether or not the LGBTQ community deserves the same rights as straight people, whether or not we need to take care of the environment, etc. But this past election season, and the chaos and commotion at the convention, indicate a divide within the Republican Party, too.
At the end of the day, Trump is going to be the nominee because for whatever reason, that’s the will of the majority of Republican voters. But the future of the Republican Party now appears unsteady as they nominate a politician so radically different from previous nominees, and with many disagreeing on whether or not Trump is a reflection of not only the policies they support, but their attitudes and values.