LET THE 'ZOOM' MEETINGS...
I MEAN, CONVENTIONS BEGIN!
Monday, August 17, 2020
by RICHARD E. BERG-ANDERSSON
[I]t is true that the major parties' National Conventions have, by now, devolved into political versions of Jerry Lewis-style Telethons (except that they tend to be four times as long!)- mainly because they no longer choose a nominee who has already clinched the presidential nomination through his reaching the "magic number" of a majority of pledged delegates at some point earlier in the pre-Convention phase of the campaign...--
At the very least, this year's Major Party National Conventions will both be much different types of such 'Telethons'.
Forced by the ever-present specter of COVID-19 to 'remote in' speeches and other events- even the Roll Call of the States re: Presidential Nomination- more usually seen on the floor of a single venue over four days, the 2020 Conventions will certainly be unique! And it will remain to be seen if some of the things done this time round end up becoming precedent for future National Conventions, even once- as one surely hopes- this coronavirus Pandemic has subsided by 2024.
In some respects, there will be an "old school" element (although not an "old school" feel, given early 21st Century telecommunications technology) to the climax of each Convention-- that is: the presidential nominee of each Party accepting said nomination; which, this time round, will be from a location other than an actual Convention site, harking back (if only somewhat) to the days before then-Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt of New York, in 1932, decided to fly to Chicago (a 6 1/2 hour flight from New York at the time) in order to accept the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party in person, rather than (as was hitherto custom) wait for a committee of Party notables, appointed by the Convention, to appear on his doorstep some days, or even weeks, later to officially inform the nominee of his being chosen (even though, thanks to [at first] the telegraph and, later, the radio, presidential nominees- since at least the mid 19th Century- already knew)-- thereby inaugurating, as well as instituting, the in-Convention Acceptance Speech (although it would not be until 1940 that Wendell Willkie would become the first Republican in this new era to accept his nomination for President before the Convention itself).
But, as is usual nowadays (COVID-19 be damned!), the Fall Campaign will certainly begin in earnest at each of these late August Conventions- even though the very verb that is at the root of that term ("to convene") might be somewhat lacking. We, of course, now already know the names atop the Democratic Party National Ticket- former Vice President Joe Biden, and Senator Kamala Harris of California- that will take on the incumbents making up the Republican Party National Ticket- President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Largely because of this, political (and, perhaps, other) slings and arrows aplenty fired at the other side can be expected from each Party's faithful during these proceedings, no matter their actual appearance on a screen- whether it be attached to a computer, smartphone, or television.
For there is much at stake come the General Election this November (no matter the various and sundry machinations- which may, where necessary, be rather cobbled together and altogether ad hoc- among the several States in order to even conduct the Election [a reminder: States of the American Union- along with the District of Columbia- constitutionally hold elections, even that for President of the United States; the only Federal intervention- as solely regards results- is a Joint Session of Congress counting, and then tabulating, the Electoral Vote before formally declaring who has been elected President and Vice President- this around a fortnight before the next Inauguration Day, along with each house of Congress being the constitutional "judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own members" per Article I, Section 5, clause 1 of the Federal Constitution]):
Questions abound: can the Democrats hold onto- or even pad their lead in seats within- the United States House of Representatives? Might the Republicans yet be able to retain control of the United States Senate? What is said at each of these Conventions over the next two weeks- along with the reaction to same by the opposition (and any countereaction in response to same from the originating party)- will have much to do with the impressions of the voters, however they might be officially polled this Fall. Even if much of the electorate does not bother to much tune in, statements made over the next two weeks will certainly become the stuff of negative campaign ads, as much as will any problematic elements within the candidates' own records and biographies.
So, strap yourselves in and fasten your seatbelts: it's all going to be rather strange, where not even quite weird; but, as the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson once said: "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro"
Which Major Party the better "turns pro" over the next nearly three months will determine the outcome of the 2020 Elections: and it all becomes joined with these Conventions, as un-Conventional as they might be this year!