Still coming down from the high of winning an NBA championship, the city of Cleveland is now gearing up for what’s sure to be a contentious and chaotic Republican National Convention. Enjoy the relative calm of this weekend, good people of Cleveland, because the Trump train is a-comin’, and it’s bringing plenty of racist grandparents with it. As Vince Grzegorek of the alt-weekly Cleveland Scene puts it, the event is simply going to be “inescapable.”
So why not at least have some fun with it? Scene has commissioned a special RNC coloring book just for the convention. The reasoning behind this project seems to be that the level of discourse in this election is on par with schoolyard bullying. Trump in particular has brought playground name-calling to the national stage, devising catchy nicknames (“Lyin’ Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Crooked Hillary,” etc.) for his opponents. If the candidates are going to behave in a childish, regressive manner, then maybe the literature about this campaign should be just as juvenile.
But there’s plenty of abuse to go around here, not all of it aimed Trump’s way. In one illustration, for instance, the phenomenally unappealing Ted Cruz tries to ingratiate himself to some horrified young people who are not fooled by his sleeveless T-shirt or Doc Martens for one second. They react to him as if he were the monster in some old Universal horror film.
Chris Christie’s portrait, meanwhile, evokes his reputation-ruining “Bridgegate” scandal as well as his love of comically large sandwiches.
These are tense, divisive times, a fact that does not go ignored in this coloring book. In fact, Uber was going to include a copy of this issue in every one of its vehicles in Cleveland, but backed out due to the controversial nature of the content. For instance, both police officers and protesters, equally menacing, are out in force here. What’s remarkable is that their various uniforms rob them of their individual identity and make them look like interchangeable automatons. Most coloring books present a carefree world of fun and amusement for all, but this one acknowledges the darker side of the modern political landscape. The inherent message is: “This is the world you’re inheriting, kids. Sorry about that.”