Rejecting Republican National Convention threatens Nashville’s global position | Viewpoint



Hosting a national convention is a massively prestigious global event for any city and enables true respectful civil discourse on a global stage.

Robert Swope
Guest Columnist

  • Robert Swope is the District 4 Metro Council member for Nashville-Davidson County.
  • Swope sponsored the ordinance to pass the draft agreement to attract the RNC convention to Nashville.
  • Swope argues that Nashville’s growing reputation as a global destination makes it a prime place for either the RNC or DNC.
  • He also says he plans to re-introduce his ordinance at the Metro Council meeting in August.

I am saddened by the Council’s reaction to Metro’s opportunity to host not just the Republican National Convention in 2024, but the Democratic National Convention in 2028 as well.

Raised in the public schools of Pennsylvania, I was taught to believe that a true civil discourse was good for everyone involved. A spirited debate fosters a sense of belonging, even if you did not, in the end, agree. 

It promotes conversation, which in turn leads to discovery, and in the end both parties become more accepting of the other “side.” 

The ability to at least listen to and respect another’s opinions and beliefs used to be considered a virtue. I am not sure that’s true anymore.

Partisanship kept RNC draft agreement from being passed

We withdrew Ordinance BL2022-1349, granting approval of the contract for Metro to host the 2024 RNC convention because at least half the Metro Council were against it, a large number before admittedly even reviewing the 60-page contract that was being considered.  

Wisconsin Governor Tommy G Thompson casts the state's 35 delegate votes for President George Bush Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention in Houston, Cheering him on at the right is state Senator Margaret Farrow (R-Elm Grove). Wisconsin's delegation is a fairly diverse group.

Had we pushed forward the legislation, it would have been defeated largely based upon what outsiders might perceive to be partisan reasoning.

This perception could have, one might say, likely would have had, long lasting negative consequences for our city not just locally, but internationally.

Nashville needs to show that it’s worthy of its global reputation

Less than two months ago, National Geographic, ranked Nashville Tennessee as the No. 1 place in the world to visit.  This is extraordinary, and firmly plants Nashville in the global spotlight.  

Hosting a national convention (DNC or RNC) is a massively prestigious global event for any city. Given our rise as one of the world’s greatest cities and having a national reputation for being able to flawlessly execute major events each and every week, (i.e., NFL Draft, Fourth of July, CMA FanFest, New Year’s Eve), at this time, we have the chance to host not one parties convention, but both. Enabling true respectful civil discourse on a global stage.

Taxpayers would not be on the hook for RNC

As it specifically relates to the 2024 RNC Nominating Convention, the city has negotiated an agreement that includes a full and total commitment by the RNC to cover the city’s costs for all security and other services, and a full commitment to cover any unexpected cost overruns that may occur.

Metro taxpayers will not fund a dime of costs for the convention and will not be at risk for any unforeseen expenses.  

The estimated revenues for the city hosting the 2024 RNC Convention are anticipated to be in excess of $200 Million dollars, and If the RNC contract were to be approved, then the DNC would be required to use the same template agreement for their 2028 event.  

Melania Trump, wife of Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump waves to the delegates after her speech during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

This is a game-changing contract, on a national scale, for both parties.

Not only does this contract indemnify Metro from any expense whatsoever, but as is commonplace with all national conventions, over 5,000 additional police, fire and EMT personnel are welcomed to the host city, working under the direction of that city’s local law enforcement (in this case Metro Nashville Police Department) to assure that all convention attendees and the local communities safety are of utmost regard.   

Having attended conventions in the past, I can say without a doubt that you feel safer at a national convention than you would at home.  

Is security a concern? Of course, it is, as it is for all major events, but does anyone really and truly believe that with over 24 months planning we can’t handle this event? 

The council will have a chance to reconsider

Nashville is the ideal place to host both conventions. At this critical moment in history, we have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world that we are a city that does believe in civil discourse, that we admire and nurture each other, and believe it is these attributes that embody the fundamental American rights of freedom, which should be granted equally to all, no matter which party you favor.

Metro Councilman Robert Swope
Metro Councilman Robert Swope
I can only hope that respectful civil discourse becomes the norm, and not the exception for debates like this.  

I ask that my friends and fellow Metro Council members stand up and do the right thing for Nashville’s long-term future and prosperity and not take what will be perceived as a partisan shot across the bow of our state and federal elected leaders.

It’s time for those who believe in Nashville and it’s rich history of being The Welcoming City of the South to stand up and do the right thing. 

I am reintroducing this legislation to be heard at the Council meeting on Aug. 2 and I am urging my colleagues, and the community, to support it.

Robert Swope is the District 4 Metro Council member for Nashville-Davidson County.