As the camera panned the faces in the crowd at the Republican National Convention cheering New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s speech promising austerity and shared sacrifice (really? if all the pain comes from reducing Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits, food stamps, public employment, and public employee pensions while cutting taxes, what pain are those with reduced taxes — rich or otherwise — receiving?), I kept asking myself: Who are these people?
Even a cursory glance reveals there weren’t many minorities in the crowd. That’s typical for Republican conventions. But despite the presence of 15,000 journalists (five for every delegate), I have yet to read a single story that tells me how many of the delegates are teachers; how many are small business owners; how many are public employees; how many are elected officials; how many live in households earning over $250,000 a year; how many have kids; how many have kids in public schools. How do the demographics of this convention compared to Republican conventions past?
One issue cries out for analysis. Nearly a third of the membership of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, votes Republican. Are any of them represented at the convention (there will certainly be a large contingent at the Democratic convention next week)? Do they agree with what Christie said about the GOP being for teachers but against their unions? Have they seen their union stand in the way of removing incompetent teachers, as was alleged? If so, have they quit their union? If not, why not?
There’s still a couple of days left. There’s still a chance to do some real reporting during this quadrennial exercise is political self-aggrandizement.