Feature

The value of political conventions

Every four years a chorus of critics call for an end to these contrived, “made-for-TV’’ extravaganzas.

Connie Cass
Associated Press

Why do Republicans and Democrats still stage political conventions? Every four years, said Connie Cass, a chorus of critics call for an end to these contrived, “made-for-TV’’ extravaganzas, especially since their original purpose—picking party nominees—was long ago moved to the more democratic process of primaries and caucuses. But as boring and predictable as the conventions have become, they are not without value. Four years after the last election, they serve as a “national stocktaking”—a debate on how we’re doing, and a glimpse into the future. It was at the conventions, after all, that we had our first early glimpses of Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton; on that grand stage, we saw Geraldine Ferraro, Sarah Palin, and Hillary Clinton “bursting through doors once locked to them.” Each convention serves as a Rorschach test of what’s on our minds: This year, it’s joblessness, gay marriage, religious freedom, the national debt, and women’s rights. Each party’s best speakers have a chance to break through the noise, and “say something in a way that sticks in the national consciousness.” Can’t we spare a few days for that?

Recommended

21-year-old Russian soldier sentenced to life in prison for killing Ukrainian man
Russian Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin listens to his translator during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 23, 2022. The court sentenced the 21-year-old soldier to life in prison on Monday for killing a Ukrainian civilian, in the first war crimes trial
guilty

21-year-old Russian soldier sentenced to life in prison for killing Ukrainian man

Number of displaced persons worldwide tops 100 million, UN reports
Evacuation in Donetsk
prayer of the refugee

Number of displaced persons worldwide tops 100 million, UN reports

U.S. will defend Taiwan if China attacks, Biden says
Joe Biden and Fumio Kishida
to the rescue!

U.S. will defend Taiwan if China attacks, Biden says

Australia swears in new prime minister while votes are still being counted
Penny Wong, Anthony Albanese, Richard Marles
Quick change

Australia swears in new prime minister while votes are still being counted

Most Popular

The deadly heat wave frying India and Pakistan
Heat in India.
Briefing

The deadly heat wave frying India and Pakistan

Russia claims to have captured Mariupol
Russian soldier in Mariupol.
big if true

Russia claims to have captured Mariupol

Archbishop denies Pelosi communion over abortion rights
Nancy Pelosi.
church and state

Archbishop denies Pelosi communion over abortion rights