[T]he 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 not 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.--
RICHARD E. BERG-ANDERSSON: Commentary entitled IT'S THE DELEGATES, STUPID!!! [originally posted on The Green Papers 23 January 2000]
[A] successful American political party must be a non-ideological affair, accommodating many points of view and speaking at times with many voices, a true federation and thus a true accommodator of all the interests of a continent. Such parties should never allow themselves to feel, and preach, that the opposition is not only mistaken but wicked.--
HERBERT AGAR: The Price of Union-- from the Preface to the Second Edition 
The Lord willing and Tropical Cyclone 'Isaac' not causing the waters of Tampa Bay to rise, the Republican Party US will be opening their quadrennial National Convention this coming Monday [27 August]. Outside of formally nominating former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as the Grand Old Party's candidate for President of the United States in the upcoming 2012 Presidential Election (and also nominating Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan for the second slot on the GOP National Ticket), this gathering will be principally dedicated to one thing- and one thing- only: explaining why Governor Romney (along with Congressman Ryan) should be elected to National High Office in the stead of President Obama (and Vice-President Biden) come Tuesday 6 November.
In this regard, my having quoted from my own self (the first of the two italicized quotes) above rings most true: for the 40th Republican National Convention will, indeed, be a four-day Telethon on behalf of Mitt Romney (the only thing missing will be incessant shots of the tote board and the rows of telephones- ringing with calls from those pledging money- being answered by volunteers)--
not that most Americans (like Romney or no) will even see (and hear) all that much of this particular Telethon (or, for that matter, the rather similar "Barack Obama Telethon" to come the following week out of Charlotte, North Carolina): for the over-the-air television networks are carrying the least amount of 'live' Convention goings-on since National Conventions were first broadcast over radio back in the 1920s (and the cable and satellite TV outlets aren't going to do all that much better!).
Nonetheless, a Major Party National Convention is said Party's most open opportunity to make their initial case to the American electorate (in that- absent events in the news [whether domestic or foreign in origin] which cannot be foreseen but which might divert the attention, even that of abject political junkies, elsewhere [the aforementioned Tropical Cyclone potentially being just one of these]- there will be a lot of news about the Republicans, their Presidential [and Vice-Presidential] candidate and their public policy positions on a wide variety of important issues, all without too much "interference" from the Democrats [who will, of course, get their turn to do the same a week later])-- I here say "initial case" because, once both National Conventions have been held, the Fall General Election campaign truly begins and there will be two months of "thrust-parry" between the two Parties and their candidates before Americans finally get to cast their votes.
Governor Romney has a problem at the start, however, and it is one seen most clearly in light of the quote (the second italicized quote above) from Herbert Agar's The Price of Union I have cited:
for, in order to successfully contest a national election, a Major Party has to, indeed, be (as Agar so well put it) "a true federation and thus a true accommodator of all the interests of a continent"-- it is for this very reason that (again quoting Agar) "a successful American political party must be a non-ideological affair" (it is also the same reason that Third Parties- themselves, by nature, highly ideological, if only because were their supporters not so ideological, why not just fold into one of the two Majors as yet another faction of same? [Just to take one example for sake of this argument: simply go online and read what the Constitution Party, for instance, considers to be truest American Constitutionalism (as well as what this Party often says about conservative Republican candidates with whom they might be competing)... not exactly all-inclusive, that!]- always fail to make all that much headway in Federal Elections [except where such Third Parties might have been co-opted by a "celebrity candidate", such as a Ross Perot back in the 1990s: once such a "celebrity candidate" has exhausted his political exploitation of a Third Party, it is merely left by the side of the political "road" as so much "litter"])...
but there are quite a number of persons who actually want the Grand Old Party's battle with the Obama Administration to largely be ideological!
Case in point: the recent flap over Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin's comments about "legitimate rape" (his words) not leading to pregnancy (in an obvious effort to bolster an argument that not making an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape in anti-Abortion legislation he himself has introduced would not be any type of burden for women who might otherwise seek an abortion under such conditions). Akin, however dedicated an anti-Abortion politician and however fervent and sincere his own religious beliefs (which, by all accounts, at least somewhat fuel his anti-Abortion position), well stepped into an ideological minefield with his comments (complicated by the fact that Akin, typical for someone who- in response to scandal- can't thereafter "see the forest for the trees", has attempted to rectify his own political position by saying that he had actually meant to say "forcible rape" [yet Akin has, so far, failed to address the implication- contained within his own proposed legislation- that 'date rape' is not "forcible" (I myself have yet to figure out how one can consent to anything whilst either unconscious or even semi-conscious-- but, hey, maybe that's just me!)]), a minefield that forced major Republican politicos- from Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan on down- to chastise Akin (to the point where the Missourian, who happens to also be the Republican candidate for the United States Senate, has decided not to attend his own Party's Convention!).
Back home in Missouri, Akin has his legion of defenders- those who say that the Republican Party "establishment" should not be trying so hard to get Akin to withdraw from the contest for the Show-Me State's Class 1 Senate seat (currently occupied by Democrat Claire McCaskill who is seeking re-election as her own Party's candidate): defenders who, in fact, are correct as regards this aspect of their defense of him- after all, Akin was duly nominated for the Senate in the Republican Primary held earlier this month! But this whole episode indicates just how much an ideological brand of politics can so "upset the apple cart" of national electoral strategy!
Romney has to use his Convention (for that is what it really is, rather than his Party's Convention-- at least as far as the average American voter "out there" sees it!) to, somehow, overcome the threat of it all becoming too ideological... yet, he has to do just that without losing the enthusiasm of the Republican Party's base (much of which is just such a base mainly because of ideological concerns)... not all that easy a "tightrope" to walk!
There is a reason a, say, Michele Bachmann can be renominated for her seat in the United States House of Representatives with the help of 4 out of every 5 voters who voted in the recent Republican Primary in her (new, 2010-determined) Congressional District. Although one of the more ideological of the candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination still in the hunt for same a year ago now, even such an ideologue can win a seat in the lower house of Congress (or, for that matter, a seat in either house of most State Legislatures) where the political/ideological demographics of the jurisdiction so voting can support this (the aforementioned Congressman Akin is currently in his 6th consecutive term in the U.S. House: this is not an accident!)...
but the United States of America as a whole is a big country! Put another way: there is a reason that the only effective system of governance (that is: if you actually prefer Republican Democracy [this term here used in its broader context, without reference to either Major Party that each happens to use a different half of that term as their own respective name]) for a continental Nation-State such as the USofA is Federation!!
However, as just such a Federation, winning a national election therein means being able to well appeal to the broadest constituency possible-- we are here, once again, back to what I myself noted in my Commentary of 1 July (and I here once more reiterate):
National elections... are not decided by Party bases: rather, they are decided by the 'Bell Curve' of the American electorate, who are neither ideologically "true believing" conservatives nor liberals and who are not at all strongly tied to the "lines" of either Major Party!
This 'Bell Curve' itself is a rather motley mix of Independents, Freethinkers, notorious "ticket splitters" and the like-- it also includes many a registered member of either Major Party... who, nonetheless, ever reserve their right to vote for candidates not of the Party with which they might be registered come a General Election... and their numbers are almost always woefully underestimated.
As a result (back to Agar again here), a Party trying its utmost to win a national election must be that very "true federation and thus a true accommodator of all the interests of a continent" if only because the Nation it so seeks to govern is itself a Federation that, by its own constitutional design, must be the quintessential "accommodator of all the interests of a continent" in terms of post-election governance.
In Tampa this coming week, Governor Romney has the opportunity- on his own behalf (in his Acceptance Speech), but also through others on his behalf who will be among the speakers before the Republican Convention- to tell us all just how he intends to do just that. To repeat that which I wrote back on 13 August where, after noting former Speaker Newt Gingrich (an erstwhile rival for the very nomination Romney will shortly claim) having said that "You have to think of Romney as having a foot in the Tea Party and a foot in the Establishment: that's right where the Republicans want him", I asked (rhetorically) But is it where Americans as a whole might want him come Tuesday 6 November?
Governor Romney and his campaign- throughout this Convention (but especially in whatever words, spoken by whomever, the networks deign to carry over the airwaves during Prime Time)- must well explain just why Americans in general should want a Mitt Romney to be where Republicans in particular might want him or, instead, why Romney is actually more to the liking- as a potential President of the United States- of those who are not so "die-hardedly" ideologically conservative than President Obama himself might be to the same... truth be told, however: Romney cannot do both!
Already, Romney is off to a rather bad start in this regard: at a rally in his native Michigan this past Friday (24 August), the former Massachusetts Governor- after mentioning how he was born in a nearby hospital- then went on to say: No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate! They know that this is the place that we were born and raised! (his "we" refers to Romney's wife, Ann, by the way). Political pundits much kinder than I quickly opined that Romney's comments were, at best, "ill-advised" (while my own immediate reaction when I first saw this particular actuality on TV was 'What a dumb-ass thing for him to have even said!').
Governor Romney explained, after the fact, that he had merely intended his comment to be a "joke"-- yet, although admittedly different in degree, it comes off as not being all that different- in kind, where not also tone- than the (alleged) "joke" the aforementioned Congresswoman Bachmann herself made just about a year ago now as I type this (a "joke" that led me to write what was, indeed, probably my shortest Commentary ever [I was so angry at the time, by the way, I even misspelled the Congresswoman's first name! A The Green Papers reader who took strong umbrage at my comments about her then-presidential candidacy called attention to my mistake via an e-mail, to which I merely clicked 'Reply' and wrote "Please know that Mrs. Bachmann will get an apology from me in this regard only once she has apologized to the entire Eastern Seaboard for what she had said instead of merely trying to hide behind the altogether lame excuse that it was, somehow, a form of humor! Thank you for your interest in 'The Green Papers'. Sincerely, RICHARD E. BERG-ANDERSSON TheGreenPapers.com Staff"]).
This is the very kind of thing Governor Romney himself (along with at least the "major players" within the GOP speaking on his behalf in Tampa) will have to avoid (although- as far as Romney's "Birther" remark in Michigan just cited above be concerned- by this coming September 24th, no one- that is: amongst the average American voters- is going to all that much care that Governor Romney had even uttered it!)
Now, there is nothing wrong with chiding President Obama as regards his policy agenda, on anything (economics, geopolitics, social policy, etc.)-- nothing at all unseemly about the usual 'getting a rise out of the crowd' stuff such as the speaker at the dais intoning "Do we want 4 more years of Obama?" (the assembled responding "NOOOOO!!!"), "Can America even afford four more years of Obama and Biden?" (again: "NOOOOOO!!!")... please don't worry, gentle reader, for I haven't lost all my objectivity here: after all, the Democrats will be doing much the same thing in Charlotte!-- there is even nothing at all wrong with the occasional sardonic barb aimed at the Obama/Biden ticket in particular as well as the Democratic Party in general (again, the Democrats will get their own chance to "parry" the following week).
But if the Party's own "party" along the Gulf Coast of Florida is seen, by those outside, as more going down that dangerous road noted by Herbert Agar, where the party-goers "feel, and preach, that the opposition is not only mistaken but wicked", such will harm as much as help (and, perhaps, even do more harm to) the Romney/Ryan cause.
If only by way of a final warning on my own part, I can here only repeat that which was chanted by protestors in the streets during a long-ago Major Party Convention in Chicago... the era may now be different (and certainly one can only hope that what might go on outside either Convention Hall this time round does not devolve into what took place in the Windy City during the final week of August, 1968!) yet the admonition is still well-advised:
The whole world is watching!
For most of this coming week, the world will certainly be watching Governor Romney-- and. thereby, trying to size up just what kind of President of the United States he might be, should he be elected this coming November.