America’s Democrat and Republican national conventions every four years represent a long standing political tradition, but a tradition whose mission has changed somewhat. In earlier days, “political bosses” of both the Republican and Democrat Party did indeed hold court in smoke-filled rooms, hand-picking their party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates. These “political bosses” also controlled their political parties’ platforms and official party positions on issues of their choosing. The Republican presidential candidate and the Democrat presidential candidate were officially nominated by the party delegates at these conventions.
While the conventions still officially nominate their presidential candidate, for all practical purposes, each party’s candidate has already been decided earlier in primary elections held in each state. The result of this direct vote by the people is then presented to the national conventions by delegates from each state. These delegates generally cast their state’s convention votes for the candidate who won their state’s primary election. Occasionally, there are questions by and defections within delegations which may result in a “floor fight.”
Present-day conventions are, more or less, rituals from the past, since primary elections have replaced the convention’s chief purpose: to nominate the party’s candidate for president of the United States. While presidential candidates are almost always decided in the primary election before the convention even convenes, conventions continue to serve a useful purpose. Conventions spotlight key issues, identify proposed solutions to our nation’s problems, and also introduce the candidates and their families to the convention delegates and as many as 23 million American voters who are watching on television. Conventions provide many voters their first extended opportunity to see and hear from the candidates and to hear their case to become president.
New York industrialist Donald Trump has been selected as the GOP candidate for president, the first non-politician selected by Republicans since Dwight Eisenhower in 1953. Initially, the media sector and professional pundits gave Trump almost no chance of being nominated or elected. In fact, almost no one liked his candidacy except the voters who thronged to his rallies and strongly supported him. The Democrat Party selected Hillary Clinton, who formerly mounted a presidential primary campaign eight years ago. The two candidates are polling just about even at the present time.
Polls continue to show that Americans feel that Washington has forgotten them and that voters do not trust “the insiders in government.” In the face of sharp divisions among the country’s voters, the outcome of the general election in November has immense importance for the future of our country. Divisiveness on policies generated by the White House is at an apex on numerous issues, including restoring opportunity for the middle class; a lethargic economy (take-home pay has been flat since 1999); uniting the country; illegal immigration and securing the nation’s borders generally; enforcement of the rule of law; defeating ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorist groups who are at war with America; restoring authority and respect for police and other law enforcement; restoring respect and healthcare for our veterans; honoring and adequately arming our military; common-sense appointments to the Supreme Court; taming excessive regulatory control; eradicating murderous attacks on innocent citizens and on law enforcement officers.
There is much work to do to restore safety and prosperity in America and the work starts in the conventions. It must continue throughout the campaign. The national conventions are professionally planned and executed productions designed to showcase a party’s nominee and other stars. They are entertaining, but also informative. The conventions identified some of the urgent issues and officially nominated the candidates. It is up to the voters between now and the November election.
Americans have the capacity now, as they always have in the past, to right the ship of state and move our country ahead. Whatever problems afflict America, we have before and must again rise above them. ■