Political Conventions: Necessary Pageantry Or A Waste Of Time?
Sure they serve a legal purpose, but has the time come to re-think how American political parties hold their nominating conventions?
They have been a slice of American political life since 1832, but when was the last time Americans watched a political convention take place with the outcome truly in dispute until then?
For Democrats, it was 1980, when Senator Ted Kennedy hoped a floor fight for unpledged delegates would help him wrestle the nomination from incumbent President Jimmy Carter.
For Republicans, it was 1976, when President Gerald Ford staved off a challenge from Ronald Reagan.
But since then, network television coverage of the events have dwindled, ceding it to cable television. On Wednesday, when Paul Ryan accepted the GOP nomination for Vice President, more people watched "Honey Boo Boo" on cable than they did Ryan's speech on any one cable network.
Next week, NBC's coverage of the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday will be replaced by the opening game of the NFL season. Somehow, just as Republicans managed to re-arrange their schedules due to Isaac, as well as the networks' earlier decision not to broadcast Monday night coverage before the weather kicked in, here's guessing the Democrats will figure out a way to fit it all in.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, talking to reporters at the RNC, conceded, "I'm not sure that having a four-day convention in the future makes much sense," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
MONEY MONEY MONEY
And there is a practical matter to consider. The federal government will spend a total of $100 million on security alone between the two conventions this year. Because of security concerns after 9/11, the convention sites, which were already compounds onto themselves before, are even more so now, meaning that besides the prestige and name recognition that comes with hosting the event, one could argue about the merits of hosting the convention to boost a local economy.
Quick: do you remember who hosted them in 2008 (without Googling it!)
ON THE OTHER HAND
The Atlantic laid out a four-pronged plea for why we should keep conventions, in part arguing that the events are more for the people in the audience at the event and watching at home as opposed to the campaigns, and that conventions have helped bring "new stars" to light.
Tell us what you think about political conventions: Keep Them? Tweak Them? Ditch Them? How would you formally nominate candidates for President and Vice President?