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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 7/14/16

A Citizen's Guide to the Upcoming Conventions

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Reprinted from Robert Reich Blog


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I'll save you the guesswork. On July 21, Donald Trump will become the Republican nominee for president of the United States. On July 28, Hillary Clinton will become the Democratic nominee.

Trump's pending coronation is unsettling many Republican leaders -- prompting Republican national chairman, Reince Priebus, to warn them that "if we don't stick together as a party and stop her, then the only alternative is to get comfortable with the phrase President Hillary Clinton."

That's about as enthusiastic an endorsement Trump is likely to get from the Republican establishment.

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It's also unsettling many other Americans, some of whom will be demonstrating in downtown Cleveland to protest the nomination of a man who has gone out of his way to denigrate Latinos, blacks, Muslims and immigrants.

But barring a miracle, Trump will be nominated anyway.

So will Clinton, whose nomination isn't going down easily with many of Bernie Sanders's supporters, even after his endorsement of her.

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So why have the conventions at all?

First, because they're perks awarded to people who worked hard for candidates during the primaries -- just as top sales reps in companies are awarded trips to national sales conventions. Delegates will have fun and spend money, which hotels and restaurants in downtown Cleveland and Philadelphia will sop up like dry sponges.

They'll enjoy circulating on the convention floors for five or six hours each night exchanging gossip and business cards, hugging old friends and meeting new ones, and taking selfies.

And they'll feel important when they hear party leaders, heads of state delegations, members of Congress and occasional celebrities tell them how critical it is to defeat the opposing party in November, how strong their nominee will be, and what makes America great.

Second, the conventions generate prime-time TV infomercials featuring celebrities, heroes and former presidents (Bush 1 and 2 say they won't appear at the Republican one) and, most importantly, the nominee on the last night.

All will speak about the same three themes, although Trump will talk mainly about himself. These segments will be produced and directed by Hollywood professionals and marketing specialists whose goal is to get the major networks (or at least CNN, Fox News and MSNBC) to project stirring images into the living rooms of swing voters.

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The third reason for these conventions will be hidden far away from the delegates and the prime-time performers: It's to ingratiate the big funders -- corporate executives, Wall Street investment bankers, partners in major law firms, top Washington lawyers and lobbyists, and billionaires.

The big funders are undermining our democracy but they'll have the best views in the house. They'll fill the skyboxes of the convention centers -- just above where the media position their cameras and anchors and high above the din of the delegates. And they'll feast on shrimp, lobster tails, and caviar.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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