Political conventions have run their course

Published 10:01 pm Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Democratic National Convention ended Thursday in Charlotte, N.C., with President Barack Obama seeking a second four-year term in office. The Democratic “glad-handing” event followed the Republicans’ convention in Tampa where the GOP officially nominated Mitt Romney as its candidate.

Months before these two conventions, however, anyone who cared knew who would be running for president. The incumbent Obama had no opposition, while Romney survived a lengthy GOP primary season before winning enough delegates to be crowned the party’s nominee.

So the two, three-night affairs in battleground states Florida and North Carolina were little more than a chance to revive talking points, use platitudes and generally denigrate the opposition. In a politically polarized society, beating up the other side is popular.

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Honestly, is it really necessary for these gatherings at all? No.

Originally, the conventions actually played a role in picking a party’s nominee. Delegates from each state would meet for a few days of speeches and rallies in favor of a candidate until votes were taken and a party’s nominee was chosen. But that was long before the advent of modern communication. Without the Internet, or even a telephone system that connected everyone and made the world much smaller, getting together to choose a nominee was necessary. Many were heated, and, in 1924, it took 103 ballots to decide that year’s Democratic nominee.

The rise of the 24-hour news cycle, where every candidate appearance or sound bite will find its way onto TV, speeches at these conventions offer little new to the voter.

It is a chance for the lobbyists to lobby, the delegates to take a vacation and party and the politicians to attempt to reinvigorate their bases.

What it is not is necessary.