We knew Milwaukee wasn’t getting the presidential nominating convention we’d expected six months ago. Now we’re beginning to see just how little of this “mostly virtual” Democratic National Convention involves its “host city.”
It’s not Milwaukee’s fault. We didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe nobody did. Maybe the federal government screwed up. Maybe there was nothing anybody could do about it.
One way or another, we have a pandemic. And what we don’t have, anymore — it seems — is an exciting and profitable convention.
Now, Milwaukee might only be getting a TV spot.
The convention was supposed to have concluded last week but was pushed back due to the coronavirus and is now set to run from Aug. 17-20. According to leaked documents reported on by The Daily Beast, the DNC is now a “Convention Across America” with small-scale events in different cities scattered throughout the U.S.
The Daily Beast declared that the 2020 DNC would be “NOMINATION BY ZOOM” for the vice president, accompanied with an image of an animated Joe Biden with his polygonal fists raised speaking to a mostly empty convention hall and television screens made to look like it was rendered out of PS2-era graphics.
Reportedly, rather than days of small-time party members and supporters speaking in the lead-up to the big dance – the nominee taking the stage to fanfare and red-white-and-blue confetti – this “reimagined” DNC will apparently be more focused on Biden. Former Republican presidential candidate John Kasich of Ohio is even one of the reported speakers scheduled for one of the mini-conventions; so are Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders and the potential future first lady, Dr. Jill Biden.
Although Trump’s Republican National Convention has already been greatly shifted (having been forced to move from Charlotte to Jacksonville), it’s still probably going to look like a typical convention. Not a city-by-city roadtrip across America starring the country’s most and least interesting Democrats.
And the honor that Milwaukee was supposed to hold, as being the home to all of this, has been severely relegated. Biden, according to The Daily Beast, will give the only speech from the Cream City under the plan.
In a statement issued Tuesday morning, the Democratic National Convention for the first time publicly acknowledged the new plan. The statement, in full, said: “Democrats are anchoring our convention in Milwaukee because we are inspired by the people who call it home and know this is where the battle for the soul of America that Vice President Joe Biden is waging will be won. Each night of our ‘Convention Across America’ will aim to engage and unite more Americans than ever before. As we are finalizing the voices that will be a part of our four nights of programming, we will continue to consult with public health officials and experts on how to best keep everyone involved with our convention safe.”
The documents provide one of the first glimpses into what the scaled-back convention would actually look like since the new dates were announced in April.
The number of credentialed press members was officially severely cut for the convention. (Milwaukee Mag will be one of the many media organizations on the outside looking in; none of our press credential applications was approved. I had a credential approved months ago, but it’s been revoked.)
The Milwaukee Bucks are on shaky ground with the Democrats too, even if the team’s owners have long supported the party. The Bucks threatened the Dems with a lawsuit, according to reporting from Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, when the Milwaukee Host Committee was behind $1 million on the rent.
One way or another, 2020 isn’t the year we thought it would be. We knew it would contain a contentious election. We didn’t think it would have a pandemic. We didn’t think it would have riots around the nation. We didn’t think it would force Americans to reckon its history in attempts to justify its future.
We didn’t think Milwaukee would begin to feel empty.
This story has been updated since publication with a comment from the DNC.