Fear and Loathing in Cleveland: Day One at the RNC

In a weird way, the first day of the Republican Convention was not what I expected. To fully understand the depths of my disappointment, we should take all my frustrations and then encapsulate it in one primary fact. Well, we will get back to this at a later in the piece and instead focus on this: flying into Cleveland this morning, on the eve of the convention starting, had the feel of flying into Da Nang in the dark last days of the Vietnam War.

And yet, despite the efforts of the evil fourth estate (who in reality has been Trump's wingman from the very beginning of this political death march) to try and pump this event up into the end of days, this is not what I am seeing right now. And let me just take a moment to explain what I am seeing. I am across the street from the Quicken Loans Convention center, and we are completely steeped in excruciating boredom right now.

Outside, there is a massive phalanx of news cameras, set up in orgasmic anticipation for the madness and chaos to unfold in front of them. Riots and pitchforks, nudes as far as the eye can see, and Black Panthers packing heat. Because in this weird topsy-turvy world you can't bring a tennis ball into the Stalinesquely-named "Exclusion Zone," but you can bring a gun.

Go figure.

That being said, what I am observing right now over my pint of Great Lakes IPA is absolutely nothing. Across the street are the windows of another establishment that have been plastered over with signage for Bloomberg Politics. In what I consider to be the basest disappointment, not a single window has been smashed despite the desperate pleas for attention from Bloomberg.

That being said, of course, there is that seething undercurrent in Cleveland today, an uncomfortable feeling that this is the calm before the storm, and before long the bonfires will scar the bucolic curves of the Cuyahoga River as civilization crumbles before us and the zombies actually win.

Except, there is none of that. It looks like a Tuesday at Disneyland. At the bar, a bunch of NBC folks are laughing with several delegates about the whole Tim Tebow nonsense, and whether he was ever going to speak at the convention or not. In fact, with as many members of the Trump family speaking here as senators, there is an urge just to give up with pretending it's the Republican Convention and just call this what it is: TrumpCon 2016.

And that brings me to the crux of the matter, and the part that actually disturbs me. This has been a terrible last couple of weeks for our country, with senseless killing and attacks everywhere. As my wife checked into the CBS Newspath to get her credentials, the feed from CBS was all about the killings of police officers in Baton Rouge.

Another tragedy in a country that seems to manufacture them almost on a daily basis. In the right frame of mind, we should want to run from this madness in all its forms. But here is the horrible thing: Part of me wants the madness. Part of me wants the chaos, to watch this entire farce descend into the dark and overturned cars.

It's not right, and I know it's not right. And yet there is this feeling that sometimes the only way you can emerge is to tear everything down to the studs and start over. I want to see people fight back, I want to tell there is some line in the sand, somewhere, that we will actually honor. And yes, Cleveland is a weird place to have this revelation, because let's be honest: as a San Francisco Democrat, I love the fact that the Republicans are falling under the jack-booted delegates of a madman. But as a believer in Democracy, frankly, this sucks.

And so, to quote a certain movie with a face painted villain and the caped crusader, I just want to watch it burn. In a way, I am now no better now than the Donald, reduced to my basest pleasure centers and looking for immediate sensory gratification. I want the onset of darkness, and I look forward to a dawn marked with fire. I am not proud of this, nor am I really fully aware of how this has come to pass. But when a country approaches a cliff, you can either choose to turn the wheel or press the accelerator. In other words, I want to know there is a time and a place where we will stand up and say no more.

So, hit the gas I say. I want to walk out into the night and poke through the wreckage of what almost happened, and hopefully, it will remind people how close we got, and why the opposite of good is not evil; it's complacency. As Alfred said in The Dark Knight, "some people can't be reasoned, bargained or negotiated with. Some people just want to watch the world burn." Over the next four days, we are going to find out just how our country decides to respond to a person such as this. Tomorrow is where we find out if there is a line.