Tough, rural southeast Ohio is a far cry from Cleveland, and Congressman Bill Johnson opened the day for me with a breakfast sponsored by the aluminum corporations (Alcoa, truck tires, a part of our lives everyday – who knew!) and an Ohio delegation that congratulated him on congressional work that creates jobs for regular people. An interesting foil (ouch) to the formal atmosphere of the GOP Convention.
A Florida-Georgia delegation joint party is a chance to meet other state reps. People want to embrace Israel, in a feeling of awe and identity that goes beyond the issues – their hugs are from the heart. At a ‘What Women Want’ by-invitation-only reception (‘Join us for politically incorrect girl talk’), Ben Carson’s eloquent wife Candy speaks out with Penny Nance to address how conservative women can find a voice without being angry.
Wanted to share some of the celebratory atmosphere that is everywhere outside the serious Convention hall – a riot of color and people, red-white-and-blue-and-sometimes-crazy. People pouring out of private parties – hobnobbing with Fox newscasters, Cosmopolitan magazine and its boxed water (it’s like chugging milk with your cookies), SNL actors buying Trump t-shirts and many famous anchormen whom I didn’t recognize. My lucky friends enjoyed me as unbeknownst paparazzi photographer (Thanks, ES and JDB for kidnapping me away! RS too).
Here’s an example of what’s for sale. I didn’t manage to photograph the Trump socks, with a shock of hair at the top of each, but I did get my ‘Hilary for Prison 2016’ T-shirt..
The debate here is not whether Trump is good for the USA but how the country is managing its conflicts. The thousands of uniformed police, policemen on bicycles, policemen on horseback, state troopers, Secret Service, you name it – an unbelievable number of first responders positioned at every corner and in between, to protect a crowd honestly afraid of the terrible violence that has Americans staying home.
‘Black lives matter’, the slogan of those in the US who emphasize racial tension as the root of the hideous violence that has swept its cities, in Cleveland becomes ‘Blue lives matter’ in a show of support for the police, who really seem to be putting their very lives on the line by simply stepping outdoors in their blue uniforms.
I met people whose loved ones call in to make sure they’re still alright, and hear of still others who stayed away completely for fear of their safety. I hear people parting on the corner, ending with the Israeli-all-too-familiar “Be safe, now.” It’s a chilling reminder that we are all in this together, and the thank-you’s as we pass by policemen and navigate around fences and protective blockades, Americans standing and clapping in thanks to their servicemen.
I feel at home.
This cannot stay the norm. America the free, home of the brave. The Republican leadership, speaking one by one like a talent show on the Convention stage, is united in its message of strength, of returning America to what it was – great / united / strong. This is a week-long impressive lineup – if these are our leaders, I am hopeful. It’s certainly what the US needs after eight years of unwinding the thread of what has kept this great country so special. We in Israel need this friend as leader of the free world, so here’s to getting that back in November.
Now for Larry’s kosher food, where the Jews can hang and spend time with our own tribe – an impromptu sit-down with Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer rivalled the roast beef for best reason to take a lunch break. Stay tuned.