Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with Jill Lepore, a professor of history at Harvard and staff writer for the New Yorker, who is at the RNC this week.
Interview Highlights: Jill Lepore
On the crowds outside the convention
"It's actually, there have been times when I've been out there sort of counting. It's a ratio of journalists to protesters is 10 to 1. Which is, you know, an incredible relief for people.
There's been, though, I think a kind of really interesting set of spontaneous moments. I mean maybe they're a little but staged. On my way over here this morning I crossed through Public Square, this beautiful plaza where many of the protesters have been gathering… It was the public square and it's been this very exciting place for free speech because it hasn't resulted in violence. This morning when I walking across I stopped for a cup of coffee, they have ping pong table out there, and there was a ping pong contest between the Indiana state troopers and this bunch of young black men... There are these lovely moments in a week that's been not the loveliest."
On the tone of the convention rhetoric
"Each speech is like one Armageddon after the next. There's this incredible sense of foreboding, and people came here to Cleveland after weeks of really very agonizing national and international news, I think kind of battered, really deeply concerned, saddened by what was going on in the country and around the world. The greeting from the podium — this isn't from floor with the delegates — but the speeches, they're not that different from the guys marching down the street with the signs that read ‘repent, repent.’ I mean there's just this sense of the coming catastrophe.
It's a strange choice of a political narrative. It's always been the case that conservatism is sort of backward looking, right, ‘the golden age lies in the past.’ So returning to the greatness that America once was… That's not a novel thing. But this is different than that. It’s making the argument contingent on accepting the idea that the present is catastrophic." ...