Since I was 2 years old, every 4 years when the next presidential election came around, my mom would scramble to find how she was going to attend the next convention. Whether she was running as a delegate, appointed to the platform committee, or acting as an alternate delegate, she’d always find a way to get there. Once she was there, she’d scramble to find a way to get me into the convention. Until recently, I never really understood the importance of conventions. To me, they were reasons to wear red white and blue and buy the next ornament for our Christmas tree.
The article, “Conventions Don’t Matter- and Mean Even Less” agrees with my 10-year-old opinion of conventions. The article points out how in the past, conventions helped decide whom the nominee would be. Now, we know who the nominee will be months before the convention, the roll call is simply tradition. The article states that “only one in five unaffiliated voters tunes in for most of the convention coverage”, therefore not even the independents that are undecided are tuning into the election. This convention season, Romney went down points for a few reasons. For people who don’t pay attention to politics and simply hear the major points of the conventions, people heard about Clint Eastwood’s performance with a chair, Romney’s ingratitude towards the militia, and lack of mentioning his plan.
Democrats did well with the convention for a few reasons, Michelle Obama was more relatable than she normally is, Bill Clinton used his normal bluntness to get across the major points and numbers, and President Obama basically apologized for the past year and didn’t make any promises. Being at the Convention, it seemed like the Democrats had grasped the fact that Conventions don’t matter anymore in a few ways. When Obama announced his support of gay marriage, people were shocked because this seemed like a bad political move for potential Conservative voters. However, the likelihood of these voters voting for him anyway is slim, and the fact that he embraced the people who will vote for him made a lot of sense. He used this same philosophy for immigration. At the convention, he absolutely played up on how accepting he is. With bright orange posters reading “Opurtunidad!”, men dressed in kimonos, sheiks with “Sheiks for Obama” signs, 18 year old delegates, bright pink posters advertising Planned Parenthood while promoting Sandra Fluke, I noticed a huge difference in the type of people that normally attend these conventions. Usually, the majority of people are white men and women with either huge political connections, or people who have done a lot for the party, this time it wasn’t about the connections you have, but more about how diverse the Convention hall would look for TV. There were not a lot of attempts to appeal to the Republicans. They tried to make themselves look better by playing a video thanking the militia, and passing out posters that simply read “Thank You”. They accepted being extremely liberal, and did not try to appear as something they’re not.
Before this convention, I was not super interested or involved with the Obama Campaign. But when you enter the convention hall, see the confetti falling while listening to “Born In the USA”, hear people chanting “Fired Up and Ready to Go”, it is really hard not to be super jazzed about Obama. I used to say that I disliked Bill Clinton after the impeachment trial, but after hearing him speak, it was hard not to be obsessed with him. I used to think Michelle Obama was cold hearted, but after her speech, I thought it was lovely how passionate about her relationship she is. People who avidly watch the conventions and go in thinking one thing, can easily be transformed into thinking the complete opposite. Conventions have a way about them that makes you have so much pride for your country, and not just the candidate you’re voting for.
The moment that stuck out to me the most during the convention, and made me feel the most pride, was Gabby Gifford’s reading of the Pledge of Allegiance. The entire convention hall was crying at this point, because no matter who you are, democratic or republican, as Americans we can all feel compassion for the persistence that Gabby Gifford has shown. Her persistence was inspiring, and the Democrats clearly knew what they were doing when they asked her to read the pledge of allegiance.
Another difference in this convention was that normally the paraphernalia, transportation, and meals are much more elaborate. This year, the Obama campaign did not go all out to impress delegates with luxurious toys, they focused on presenting the issues with well-rounded speakers. I think the Obama’s choice not to go overboard with the fluff for the delegates made a lot of sense since we are in such a bad place economically. Taxpayer dollars are basically going to pay for one big party, and the fact that they were holding this party on a budget, made a lot of sense. The Obama family does not play into the old, white bread image of the Democratic Party; they instead focus more on the issues, and less for making the party happy.
I really enjoy the conventions; I think they’re a lot of fun. I would be really sad to see conventions go. On the other hand, the only point of conventions now are to get people jazzed about the candidate, since so few people are listening. For the people who are going to vote for Obama regardless, it helps get them ready to work in the campaigns. But for the people on the fence, they probably won’t tune in anyway. Therefore, due to the state of our economy, I think it’d be a better idea to have Conventions as more of a weeklong televised fundraiser solely funded by delegates and party VIP. Although the Conventions bring in money for cities, the toll it takes on taxpayer money is not worth it, and if you had political junkies funding it, you’d probably make even more money. All in all, I can agree that the importance of conventions is slim, but they sure are a lot of fun. I mean really, whoever heard of “Pin The Tail on The Elephant?”