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The Republican Party is now going though its quadrennial debate to select a city for its presidential nominating convention. The finalists are likely to be named next week. The site selection committee has reportedly narrowed the choices to Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dallas, Las Vegas and Kansas City.

This decision is important because it helps set the theme and encapsulate the philosophy that the party wants to communicate to voters across the nation. Stagecraft often becomes statecraft.

As a longtime foot soldier for the GOP’s conservative movement, I have visited all these cities. Each has a case to be made, but none possesses the symbolism or history of Kansas City. (Besides being the best place in the country to get a good steak.)

The 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City was where candidate Ronald Reagan lost the nomination battle but set the modern GOP firmly on a  path to electoral victory — and changed American politics in the process.

reaganThe GOP in 1976 was at a crossroads metaphorically, and Kansas City was — and is — at the junction opening up America from east to west, from north to south. If the Republican Party chooses the city as its 2016 convention site, it may again be opting for a path through the wilderness back to the future — and ultimately to the White House.