If the media portrayal about political craziness and disruption in the United States has you worrying about vacationing in America this summer, try to keep a level head, look beyond some of the bizarre headlines, and proceed with your plans. But be flexible.
Not since the summer of 1968, when anti–Vietnam War protestors clashed with hardline government supporters and police and turned the Democratic nominating convention in Chicago into a firestorm, has an election year evoked such brutality and fear.
Not ours to comment on why this is happening, though there are enough pundits blowing smoke at you to feed any position you may choose. But one thing is clear: based on the amazing number of people coming out to vote in primaries, caucuses, town hall meetings, and debates, the people are angry. They are demanding to be heard, and they have had enough with business as usual.
What does this mean to you if you plan on visiting south of the border, to take in a few baseball games to see if the Jays can sprint that final leg this year, or get some beach time in for what is building up to be another hot seashore-type summer?
First of all, be aware that the rambunctious primary season will soon be over and the nominee choice will be pretty well locked. There will still be continuing media hype about who can still lose, or who will sneak in to save the favoured party from perdition. But don’t get caught up in that. It’s the media’s job to keep you hooked to a story long after it’s over. You can leave it when you’re bored.
So, where should you not go?
Steer clear of anywhere in or around Cleveland in the weeks leading up to July 18–21, where the Republicans will hold their National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena. This is a huge affair, and it brings in many thousands of delegates, dignitaries, and hangers-on from across the country; you will not be able to get a hotel room at anything like a reasonable price until the whole affair is over. Don’t underestimate the potential turnout or the intensity surrounding this event this year. It’s like no other in living memory.
Similarly, avoid anything close to Philadelphia, July 25–28, where the Democrats will hold their convention at the Wells Fargo Center. This will likely be a more sedate affair, since its outcome is well known. But the Democrats turn out in great numbers, largely because their delegate structure is different from that of the Republicans, and they have greater numbers voting. There will be no hotel rooms available for you at any price level, so if you really need to go to eastern Pennsylvania, wait until at least August.
Anywhere else you want to travel is fine, but make sure you keep your political convictions on the down low. Americans take their politics seriously, and this year they have turned politics into a blood sport. Unlike Canadians, who leave the choosing of their party leader to their party bigwigs, Americans vote directly for their nominee, and they have insisted on taking it into their own hands. It has gotten quite messy.
Don’t underestimate how emotionally involved your otherwise pleasant, placid relatives in Illinois, Missouri, or Louisiana may have become in this political turmoil. Best to stay away from any comments or jokes you may have about what you have seen on TV in the months past. You don’t want Aunt Millie in Key West shoving you out of her front door because of some silly comment you made about her favourite candidate. You only thought she was a Democrat.