Election 2016

How to Steal an Election

newyorker.comAt sunrise on the day before the Republican National Convention begins, in Cleveland, a hundred women will take off their clothes and pose for the photographer Spencer Tunick outside the convention hall. Naked, they’ll be holding up big, round mirrors to the sky, to catch the light. “Women will decide the outcome of this election,” Tunick says. He insists that his installation is not a political protest. “This is a work Republican women can participate in,” he says, bipartisanly.

This year’s Conventions will be held back to back, like a doubleheader, or two root canals in a row. The week after the Republicans meet in Cleveland, the Democrats will meet in Philadelphia. First Trump, then Clinton. But, what with the anti-Trumpers and the pro-Sandersers, some people are worried that all hell might break loose, which is unusual, since people more commonly worry that the Conventions will be boring. “At first blush, the Republican National Convention at Cleveland next week promises to be a very dull show,” H. L. Mencken wrote in 1924, when the incumbent, Calvin Coolidge, was the all but assured nominee. “Some dreadful mountebank in a long-tailed coat will open . . . with a windy speech; then another mountebank will repeat the same rubbish in other words.” And, while that really is what happens, lately more than ever (since 1952, no Convention has gone past the first ballot) the Conventions are never boring, if only because of the high jinks, not to mention the low jinks. In Chicago in 1864, the Democrats installed a giant sign made of coiled gas pipe. It was supposed to read “McClellan, Our Only Hope,” but the gas jets broke and the thing just flickered and died, hopelessly. Roscoe Conkling was so sure he’d get the nod in 1876 that he picked his Vice-President and a motto—“Conkling and Hayes / Is the ticket that pays”—only to be defeated by his erstwhile running mate, ever after known as Rutherfraud B. Hayes.

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