Summer conventions must maintain civility, but not squelch protests.

Television news channels are betting on big audiences for the Republican National Convention, which begins in Cleveland on July 18, and the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, which begins two weeks later. “They will be two of the most interesting conventions in modern political history,” Sam Feist, CNN’s Washington bureau chief, told Crain’s Cleveland Business—which reports that CNN is charging $40,000 to $100,000 for a 30-second ad during the conventions, compared with its usual prime-time rate of about $5,000.

The parties, and their host cities, may have mixed feelings about the new interest in what had become fusty events where spontaneity went to die. Even if Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton can manage comity inside their respective convention halls, the TV cameras may find conflict outside, where groups opposed to the nominees have vowed protests and civil disobedience. Cleveland originally imposed a 3.3-mile “no protest” zone around the arena where the Republican convention will be held. After a federal judge rightly ruled that plan unconstitutional, the city shrank the heightened-security area, but protesters will still be kept out of sight of convention attendees.


The host cities should allow nonviolent but visible demonstrations as close as possible to the convention halls. Protest is an indispensable part of democracy, and it serves as a safety valve for those who do not feel represented in the halls of power. The presidential election itself is not sufficient as an opportunity to be heard. We need vigorous debate now in order to make an informed choice in November.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
J Scanlon
2 years 1 month ago
Post-Dallas the concern for Convention disruption is higher than before this editorial was written. One thing I noticed, however, in several interviews of Dallas protestors was their peaceful demeanors. Certainly there was anger yet their general posture was exemplary. Let the protestors go forth! And if someone or an 'outside' group wants to use them, then let the appropriate authorizes intervene. I look forward to watching both conventions, and I doubt that too much disruption will occur.
John Walton
2 years ago
Three more nights of conventioning in CLE -- on the ground the first set of "protesters" with Cornel West's group anticipated 1,000 protesters. They got 100. Another group had 8 participants, and more media than protesters (one of whom wore a red-T with what appeared to be "CCCP" emblazoned across the front.) Small confrontation was quickly dealt with by bicycle-mounted police.


The latest from america

As I look back upon my lifem can I identify things that I would now do differently?
Terrance KleinAugust 16, 2018
I have found myself for the first time truly afraid of what it means to ask and to allow my children to be part of the church.
Kerry WeberAugust 15, 2018
Cardinal William H. Keeler in May 2009. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz) 
A Pennsylvania report accuses Keeler of covering up sexual abuse allegations while serving as bishop of Harrisburg.
Associated PressAugust 15, 2018
With her appeal to emotion, Gadsby reminds audiences to see the vulnerable, resilient human being behind the humiliated stand-up comic.
Allyson EscobarAugust 15, 2018