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What is the point of a political convention?

Can somebody, anybody explain the purpose of the political conventions?

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of pageantry. From parades to weddings, a show for the sake of a show drives me up one side of the wall and down the other.

Still, I can at least understand why some people are drawn to these cultural touchstones (think Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade), even if I think it’s a waste of tissue paper and flowers. What I cannot understand is how anyone, other than the two men running for president, can think the upcoming Republican & Democratic Conventions serve any logical purpose.

There is a chance my memory is fuzzy, or maybe I remember things as better than they actually were, but wasn’t there a time when the conventions served to allow the parties to fight, bicker, cajole and generally negotiate themselves into a ticket and platform? And we got to watch! Please tell me what possible “news” can come out of either convention.

Is there any burning policy questions that will get resolved? Any platform planks that will shock the world? Any honest disagreements or debates that will play out on front of a national audience and lead to a better America? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, I’d like to interest you in a unique property up in Lake Havasu. But I digress.

Both conventions have turned into three-day infomercials for the candidates and political parties. Everything is timed, scripted and “made for TV,” from the size of the digital American flag (that will no doubt be behind every speaker) to the amount, color and buoyancy of the balloons that will periodically fall from the ceiling, sending conventioneers into rapture.

We know the Democrats are “casting” for speakers, literally looking for a gay, Black or Hispanic Iraq/Afghanistan war veteran who saved the life of a straight soldier.

Oh, and can you bring the straight soldier with you. (See video below) The conventions have turned into the world’s worst reality shows as they look for that perfect combination of special interest groups that will tug at your heart strings and replace the Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team as “America’s Sweethearts.”

I expect the Republicans are doing the same, albeit with a very different set of criteria. Sadly, the better name for these events would be “Toddlers & Tiaras” but that’s already been taken.

Which begs the question: why?

If the only answer is “because we do it every four years,” I sincerely hope Hurricane Isaac gently brushes Tampa, forcing the cancellation of the Republican National Convention, if only to show it neither helps nor harms Mitt Romney. Maybe then we can collectively wake up and stop caring about these political charades masquerading as “news” and cover them the same way we would the National Dental Association’s annual convention. Now that was a barn-burner!

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