This is as big as the stage gets in politics — and many Republicans either want to disrupt it or stay miles away
Nominating conventions are designed to be infomercials for the respective parties. It’s three days of pomp and staged celebration. While there are occasionally bitter fights over nominees or platform positions, modern conventions have become highly engineered television spectacles: The nominees are anointed, future stars jockey for stage time, and everyone pretends that the previous 12 months of in-fighting never happened.
The Democrats will likely follow this script in Philadelphia this year. Sanders is still working to leverage his influence, but he’s already pledged to stop Trump and he will almost certainly endorse Clinton at the convention. Whatever happens, the party will emerge on the back end united and ready to launch the general election campaign.
For the GOP, however, the convention is shaping up to be a complete trainwreck. Nothing is working. Party leaders are contorting themselves every day as they support Trump without actually endorsing him or even admitting he’s qualified for the job. And their nominee is doing everything possible to complicate things – hurling racist accusations, insulting Muslim and LGBT Americans, and doubling down on positions he ought to be running away from.
The best indication that the Republican convention will be unusual (to put it charitably) is that hardly anyone wants to speak. A speaking slot at a national convention is tremendous opportunity for any politician; it’s the easiest way to introduce yourself to the country and the financiers who fund campaigns. And yet this year Republicans are scrambling to avoid being seen anywhere near the Trump-led convention.