Former Charlotte City Council member: Hosting RNC 2020 made sense for Charlotte. Until now

I’ve owned and operated a hospitality company in Charlotte since 1995. In that time, I’ve served on the boards for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Charlotte, and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. I’ve committed my life to Charlotte’s hospitality industry, for the benefit of tens of thousands of good people who show up for work every day to transport, host, feed and lodge our citizens and visitors. I believe hosting a national convention for either political party is an opportunity that no city, with the capacity to do so, should pass up. The economic and brand opportunities alone are virtually in a class of their own.

So it was appropriate for Mayor Lyles to pursue and support the Republican National Convention 2020, even if unpopular. The city council did the right thing in supporting her efforts. I supported those efforts. Until now.

Until this week, Donald Trump had “only” made a mockery of the presidency. Until now he was “just” a demonstrated liar, misogynist and unindicted conspirator in various criminal activities. While unacceptable, he’s one man. None of this rose to the level of indicting an entire political party or preventing our city from welcoming Republicans as they prepare for national elections.

That changed this week, when the president “othered” four American congresswomen of color, telling them to “go back where they came from.” Almost every Republican in the House of Representatives voted against a rebuke of his comments. And when you thought it couldn’t get worse, Trump came to North Carolina for a rally and brought the issue up again. Right on cue, the crowd chanted “Send her back! Send her back!” As a North Carolinian and an American, I was ashamed.

Our president’s words are racist, bigoted and un-American. Without apology he’s trying to divide our country along ethnic and race lines, focusing on who we are rather than what we believe. While he’s important, he’s still just one man. What’s changed for me is realizing that an entire political party thinks it’s all perfectly ok.

It’s time to part ways with the RNC. If there’s any morals clause or other contingency in the contract, Charlotte should exercise it and terminate the agreement.

Notwithstanding the potential for political disobedience of historic proportions, the mere presence of the RNC would suggest that Charlotteans are oblivious or indifferent to what’s really going on. If the mayor and council do not consider what Trump and his party have done rising to the level of termination, then what exactly does? It’s time to have that conversation, in public, because it’s time for our community to try and divorce itself from this national disgrace.

In bidding for the RNC, Mayor Lyles and the CRVA were doing their jobs. They represented our city and region, trying to recruit business that would enhance our tax base and our brand. But it turns out we should have listened to Lindsay Graham in 2015 when he called Trump a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.”

Charlotte is an open and welcoming city, but good God almighty we’re about to let the devil in the door. Because of the silence and outright support of an entire party, it now appears RNC stands for nothing more than the Racist National Convention. I’m out.

Billy Maddalon, an Observer contributing columnist, is a former Charlotte City Council member. Email: billy@billymaddalon.com