Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Changing Import and Use of American Political Conventions

Every four years now, sizable portions of Americans become annoyed at the prospect of "being forced" to watch the conventions of the Democratic and Republican Parties, usually taking place in August. These conferences, which dominate the prime time lineup of the cable news channels and more importantly the major broadcast channels seem to have become a futile exercise to most Americans. As the major parties have for the most part, selected their candidates and made their boldest policies declarations months before the conventions, many are left wondering why bother?
Yet if this is true, then why do sizable if not less than negligible amounts of people tune in? Why has time after time, a bump in one candidate's support levels arose at the end of these "useless" conventions?
Well after all, they do give potential Presidents a chance to bask in the limelight of a major televised event. These candidates are given air time to do what with want they want. With this in mind, the conventions have become increasingly choreographed efforts akin to major Hollywood movies and award shows. Despite the candidates having already leaped the hurdles that were the primaries, the production team has sought to keep dramatic appeal high. Using lighting, short films, and opulent decoration (which the 2008 GOP convention self-consciously cast aside)the conventions have taken on a different character that is far removed from the old days of smokey back room deals and pronouncements from less than telegenic speakers. So as the conventions no longer matter in regards to selecting a candidate and large scale inner party compromises, they have come to be important in a different less tangible way .

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