A large and vocal portion of our population watched the weather this past week quite closely so as to keep track of Hurricane Isaac. They weren’t worried about whether this weather would destroy property or kill people, but whether it would disrupt the Republican National Convention.
These people were, of course, reporters. No one else cares about the conventions … except maybe some of the people who go. One gets the sense that they care because it’s a vacation with like-minded political folks and not because it’s any kind of history-making affair.
I’m going to stop dancing around my point and get right to it in the form of a question: why do we still bother with having political conventions?
According to a recent article on Yahoo!™®© the Republican political convention was going to give people “out in the country” their first chance to really get to know Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Really? Between round-the-clock coverage on TV, radio and the ‘net, is there anyone who wants to know more about the candidates who doesn’t already have access to that information?
And if there is such a person (can’t be more than a couple of them, nation-wide), how will a one hour speech change anything? So he’ll get to see whether the candidate has … what? Emotion? Hand-gestures? Will such knowledge really change his vote?
Let’s face it: most people vote for a candidate based on one of two criteria. About half the nation vote for a candidate based on what they think he or she (or, in the case of Al Franken, it) will do for them. The other half votes for candidates on the hope that he or she will create a government that gets out of the way. And neither of these voters is going to see anything in the conventions that changes their minds.
What they are going to see is a lot of red, white and blue and hear a lot of accusation (“My worthy opponent likes to spend his holidays clubbing seals, when he’s not cross-dressing in strip bars”), some invective (“It’s because of the other side that the country is going to hell not just in a hand basket but on a roller-coaster of financial squalls and laboriously planned dips and trips that will bankrupt this morally sunken nature far more egregiously than whoever wrote this speech has damaged the grammar of our very foundations”) and occasional praise for the mother land (“Unlike my opponent, I love this country, my mother, the military, all special interest groups, and good ol’ fried chicken—can I get an ‘amen’ on that because I love God, too!”)
What we won’t hear coming out of political conventions—as in the old days—was word from “the back rooms” about what has been put into the various planks of the “platform”. All this was done weeks ago, as was made evident when the Republicans released their platform a week before the convention. This was supposedly a “leak” and a “mistake” but I have to think it was carefully calculated so as to provide more convention time for jumping up and down and waving signs and shouting things like, “We, the citizens of the GREAT SOVREIGN state of WEST Dakota, whose per capita income is 8 points higher than the national average and whose cheerleaders are prettier than any girl who ever appeared in a Beach Boys video, are excited to the point of wetting ourselves to give all thirteen of our nominating votes to whoever it was that last state gave their votes to!!”
Why not just scrap the conventions and spend the money elsewhere? They could give it to the poor, that would be nice. Or, they can spend it on their campaigns. I don’t care. I just wish they’d go away (and take their conventions with them and let the TV networks return to their “regularly scheduled programs” which, even if it’s a reality show or golf, is still more interesting than a political convention).