Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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Walking to Cleveland

Read Part Three of Four here.

RNC Part Four of Four

RLn Editor’s Note: Drew Philip, a freelance writer with Belt Magazine with photographer Garrett MacLean, in the grand tradition of Alexis de Toqueville and Woody Guthrie walked to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and talked directly and plainly with the people along the way. Philip documented what he learned in a four part series published on Belt Magazine’s website.

This post was originally published on July 17.

By Drew Philp
Photos by Garrett MacLean

“I don’t know, it’s just crazy here now it seems,” Rick Matisak said as he sat outside a coffee house in Gordon Square in Cleveland. A gentle unease had settled over the city in the days before Donald Trump arrived to claim his nomination.

“In terms of the convention, or just in general?” I asked.

“The convention and the state of our politics,” he said. Frustration and confusion seem to be the tone of this election, and it was no different in rural Michigan than in Ohio’s second largest city.

“I don’t have the feeling this is the worst time in our history,” Patty Jurca chimed in, sitting with Matisak and marking a crossword puzzle in pen. “I kind of suspect there have been times in the world’s history that have been much worse. I think mostly I feel sad that people feel so desperate or feel so unheard that they think [Trump] is their voice. If you feel like things are so crummy for you that he’s your guy, there’s some bigger conversations that need to happen about that.”

Cleveland, At Last

If nothing else, I’ve seen people desperate to have those big, earthshaking conversations about our politics and the state of the country. More than anything, people want to tell their story and have it heard. As I’ve slowly made my way to Cleveland, I’ve listened to our collective voice, and it’s more unified than we’ve been led to believe.

Mid-westerners, at least the ones I’ve met, are not afraid of complexity. We seem to recognize it in ourselves and are yearning for it to be echoed in our media and our politics.

Over and over again and from both sides of the ideological debate I’ve heard that politics, as it is now, is not working. Average Americans are frustrated that their voices aren’t loud enough to reach into the soundproof halls of disinterested government and over the white noise of money. People have told me time and again they would like to see more diversity in our political parties, or the parties abolished all together. The blunt terms of left and right, Democrat and Republican, are no longer filling our needs.

In just the short time I’ve spent in Cleveland I’ve seen those conversations happening, both around the convention specifically and in an ongoing manner of daily and concrete actions in an attempt to build community.

Read more here.

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