Essay: National conventions

National conventions are part of the electoral process. National conventions have been held in August in recent election years, and they have to show both Republican and Democrat parties at their very best as the media coverage of these events is immense. Whether these conventions are a vital part of the American political structure, though, is open to debate.
In the past the two national conventions (held by both parties prior to a national election) were of great importance in that it would be at these events that the parties would announce who had won the ‘party ticket’ and would represent that party as the presidential nomination in a national election. His running mate as vice presidential candidate would also be announced.
Therefore the behind the scenes political intrigue at these conventions was at its peak so that vested interests got ‘their man’ as the party’s presidential nominee. This lead to clashes at a time when party unity had to be seen by the public as being at its peak. As a result of this both parties effectively know who their nominations are going to be by the time the national conventions convene. Such information can be easily gained from the stated political support registered at both local and state level in the primaries.
They have a number of purposes:
1. The official party candidates are announced to the public by both parties.
2. Each party’s policy platform is announced. This is essentially what each party plans to do if elected by the people. These platforms are then adopted by the parties but they are not binding on either candidates or state parties.
Today, a vast amount of time and energy is put into the conventions so that the chances of any mishaps are kept to a minimum. The onus for this rests with the two party chairmen. It is their responsibility to present a stage-managed event that is free from scandal. The convention will also have to be media friendly so that the reports in the press and on television will be positive and productive. The portrayal of total party unity will be the most important issue on the minds of both chairmen. The conventions are essentially choreographed with floor managers ensuring that everything runs smoothly. The image the convention presents should be one that will persuade those who have yet to make up their minds that the future of the country is safe in the hands of this party. The crowning glory of the week long conventions is if your presidential hope is ahead in the opinion polls.
The voting body at a national convention is made up of delegates and super-delegates. How each delegate gets to a national convention is a complicated business and can differ markedly from state to state. The two parties at state level can decide which system they use to send delegates to a national convention.
The delegates, once at a convention, vote for a candidate for the presidential election. Super-delegates have tended to muddy this system, and therefore the whole voting structure at the national conventions.
Super-delegates are senior civil servants, governors, ex-presidents and old-established figures within the party – be it Democrat or Republican. The super-delegates inflate the number of people who can vote at a convention and they can be very influential in the final decision of who runs for presidency for the party that they represent. Super-delegates are not voted for by state parties.

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