The Republican Convention was last week. The Democrats rev theirs up this week. Television viewership of the Republican Convention was down, and I suspect we will see the same thing this week.
There were a couple of factors affecting the viewership of the Republican convention. First, the major networks didn’t push it. Only an hour each night. They didn’t advertise it and plug it. Second, the Republicans shortened their convention because of the hurricane.
But, does a well established political party even need a convention?
What Bill Clinton called, “the permanent campaign”, back in the early nineties is now indeed permanent. In the old days, a President would get elected and you would never see them or hear much after inauguration. Press conferences and speeches carried live on television was the way a President interacted with the populace.
Since Obama was elected, has there been a day where he didn’t make a speech on tv? He is over exposed. With social media and the internet, people are inundated with politics. They don’t need a convention to understand the talking points of each party.
In the old days, party bosses would get together and decide for everyone else what would happen and who would be where. At the Republican convention, there was outcry from some delegates when the establishment Republicans continued down that path. With the internet, we don’t need central planners to decide for us who should be put in what place.
The internet allows disparate delegates from far away places to interact and make each other more effective. Someone from California can talk to someone in Florida instantaneously. Collaboration is easy. Decision making is easier and faster.
Embraced correctly, the new forms of communication can act like a public marketplace that can broaden bases, and make parties stronger and more effective. Republicans for all their talk about embracing free markets and ending central planning forgot that at their convention. You can forgive Democrats, because they are all about deciding for you.
Republicans ought to genuflect to Hurricane Isaac. It proved you can do something in a shorter time frame. Conventions ought to be two day affairs.