Skip to comments.Conventions Don't Matter -- and Mean Even Less
Posted on 08/31/2012 8:54:08 AM PDT by Kaslin
Political junkies get excited about the Republican and Democratic national conventions, but for many Americans they provide a stark reminder of how out of touch our political system has become. The strange rituals and bad jokes seem oddly out of place in the 21st century, almost as strange as seeing an engineer use a slide rule rather than an iPad to perform some complex calculation.
While partisan activists tune in when their team's big show is on the air, most unaffiliated voters view the conventions as a waste of time and money. For the past week or so, everyone I know in the political world has been talking about the latest convention buzz. But I live far from Washington, and most people I talk to aren't wrapped up in politics. Among that group, the most common response to mentioning the convention was something along the lines of, "Oh, yeah, I forgot that was going on now."
The reason for the declining interest is simple. Conventions used to matter. They actually decided something. In 1960, when John Kennedy was nominated for president with Lyndon Johnson as his running mate, nobody could be sure of the outcome until the roll call of states was completed. There were only five primaries in that year. But by the 1970s, the rules had changed, and now primaries select the major party nominees. The conventions are just a relic to confirm what has already been decided.
Since they decide nothing, only about one in five unaffiliated voters tunes in for most of the convention coverage. Even the major networks, themselves products of a bygone era, have figured this out and have limited coverage to an hour a night. Only 14 percent of all voters wish there were more.
This creates an odd dynamic where political reporters and pundits watch the festivities as if they matter. They then analyze each speech and comment as if persuadable voters are paying attention. Their impressions of the convention then influence future coverage of the campaign.
That would make sense if voters trusted reporters, but they don't. Only 22 percent believe reporters even try to offer unbiased coverage of political news. Instead, the general public sees most reporters as activists trying to help their favored candidate. Most believe reporters are so in the tank for their team that they would bury a scoop rather than release information that might hurt the cause.
While reporters try to assess whether each utterance at a convention helps Republicans or Democrats, most voters are looking for someone who will help America. In this sense, the conventions are useful. By their sheer partisan self-indulgence, funded by tens of millions of dollars from taxpayers, the conventions highlight just how self-absorbed and self-serving our political elite has become. They act as if politics is all that matters.
For most Americans, politics is at best a necessary evil. While the political class fights over power and the ability to spend other people's money, the American people are looking ahead and hoping for a brighter future. They want a fair shake, not a special favor. The good news, as documented in my book "The People's Money," is that voters are always ahead of their politicians.
A half-century ago, conventions mattered because they actually selected presidential candidates. Today, they only serve to remind us that what interests -- and entertains -- the political class has little to do with what America needs.
They don't get paid by the “grass roots” and that is what Conventions are all about.
i think they matter to gauge the interest or intensity of that particular party and GOTV....the intensity from the GOP convention in ‘12 far outweighs what we witnessed in ‘08 and i think that means a lot more Republicans voting in 2012...
So a Convention is useless to get your base excited, on the same page, and to turn out at the polls, huh?
Maybe they do, maybe they don’t.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this one definitely mattered.
Will we ever have another brokered convention?
No disagreements. The same could be said for party platforms which in the end means absolutely nothing. Candidates from local office to the presidency itself routinely distance themselves from the platform.
That should be tattooed on every reporters hand.
Once again it is the media that is stirring the pot.
the intensity from the GOP convention in 12 far outweighs what we witnessed in 08
That is not true. In fact ratings are down significantly. Everyone was very excited in 2008 with Sarah Palin.
so ratings = intensity?? sorry; Palin or not the speakers the past three days were head and shoulders above what we saw in 2008...i had one guy in my gym, a Jewish guy who was an independent and voted for obozo in ‘08, tell me he was as proud of this nation as he has been in the past 8 years after watching the GOP convention....
Scott got this right. Conventions do not matter, nor decide a dang thing, but for the party business that takes place behind closed doors for a half day.
The nation can use a party with hats though, besides just the one celebrated on New Year’s Day, and in order to kick off the hope for New Ruler Day, a new president, a new direction, new governance.
About the strange rituals and bad jokes yes. But then again the most popular tv shows are American Idol and Dancing With the Stars. People like lameness and gaudiness. Which is not to say conventions matter. Just not for the reasons stipulated.