A Level Politics: NATIONAL PARTY CONVENTIONS- OUTDATED OR STILL VITAL?

NATIONAL PARTY CONVENTIONS- OUTDATED OR STILL VITAL?

 Photo Credit: flickr user Ava Lowery

National Party Conventions are often seen as a television highlight because of the colourful balloons unleashed during them, but are they really useful in any other way? It is a question that has troubled political analysts in recent times. For those who don’t know, or who need a recap, a National Party Convention is the meeting held by the major (and some minor) US political parties, traditionally, to select their presidential and vice-presidential candidates, and to create their party platform. It is held every 4 years.

Some analytics have argued that their importance has declined in recent years, citing the fact that television coverage of the Conventions has decreased (ABC, CBS and NBC put out 9 hours of coverage of the Republican Convention in 2012, compared to 46 in 1968), whilst others have countered that they remain significant. Anthony Bennett notes that: “[the conventions] can… be important in identifying the rising stars of the future. In 2004, a little-known state senator from Illinois wowed the Democratic convention with his impressive keynote address. His name was Barack Obama”.

Here, we hope to discuss the main arguments on either side of this debate:

DO THE NATIONAL PARTY CONVENTIONS STILL FULFIL ANY USEFUL FUNCTIONS?

NO

YES

Whether you see National Party Conventions as wholly good or bad is your own personal judgement.What might be useful to note, however, is that whilst the formal functions of the National Party Conventions- selecting presidential and vice-presidential candidates, and creating party platforms- appear to have declined in importance in recent years, its informal functions- healing internal party wounds, and enthusing the party faithful and ordinary voters, have risen in significance, year after year. Whether it is for the balloons (of course) or for the candidates themselves, millions of us continue to tune in to them every 4 years that they are held.

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