In the next couple weeks the Democrats and Republicans will both have their National Conventions. The party conventions that precede the U.S. Presidential election were “originally designed to give citizens more direct control over whom their party nominated to run for president…” (1) Over time the process has changed, and it was in the 1970’s when both parties initiated rule changes that committed delegates to choosing a candidate prior to the convention. (1)
The growing prominence of the media has also impacted the conventions. (2) In recent years the tremendous planning efforts include accommodating a global audience.
The website for each party offers videos on convention planning, which includes renovating the venue; security; IT; accommodations for the media, and this year… maybe hurricane preparedness? Both parties will offer many social networking options, for those who want to stay up to the minute with what’s happening. (3, 4)
So what IS happening at these conventions? Well, in addition to formally nominating the party’s candidate – putting into motion the real race for the Presidency – it is at the conventions that the formal platforms are assembled. The platform is the position of the party on specific issues. The party platform will, in turn, be incorporated into the campaign efforts of the nominated candidate. So, in addition to the speeches and glitter and the James Taylor concert, there will be meetings and debate and compromise as all of the disparate opinions of each party are pulled and stretched into the party’s campaign platform. It is real-time political drama, a rival to any episode of Boss!
(1) Warren, K. F. (2008). Encyclopedia of U.S. campaigns, elections, and electoral behavior. Los Angeles: Sage. p. 142
(2) Panagopoulos, C., & Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs. (2007). Rewiring politics: Presidential nominating conventions in the media age. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.
(3) 2012 Democratic National Convention (2012, August 23) Retrieved from: http://www.demconvention.com/photos-video/
(4) 2012 Republican National Convention. (2012, August 23) Retrieved from: