Friday, September 5, 2008

The Conventions Are Over...

The Republican Convention ended last night, marking the end of the 2008 cycle of conventions.

A few thoughts and observations on political conventions generally.

-Each party only stages one every four years. They're not like reality shows or police science dramas, which seem to dominate the air waves. Watching as much of each as time allows, therefore, seems to be a small commitment for someone who is planning to case a ballot that will, in turn, impact the lives of their countrymen for the next four years and beyond.

-The television coverage of this years' conventions were revealing. The stations that have some sort of moral obligations to cover them (because they broadcast on public airwaves), e.g., ABC, NBC and CBS, carried only the bare minimum, while those who pretty much pay their own freight such as MSNBC, CSPAN, CNN and other cable channels provided more comprehensive coverage. That ABC, NBC and CBS have mostly abandoned their commitment to news has, of course, been obviuos for some time, but this is the most blatant example to date.

-It can be argued that this reflects the decline of a political convention from a place where news really happened, i.e. candidates were actually selected and have become political pageants instead. Still, this is the only time most voters will actually be exposed to the parties' message, unfiltered by the talking heads, for more than short sound bites. This alone means they are still a meaningful part of the political process.

In short, I hope you watched at least as much of them as time permitted. At the very least, you'll know the candidates' basic stories, the issues that matter most to them, and have some sense of what the differences are between the parties and what is at stake in this election.

Sadly, that is a lot more than most voters will have when they go to the polls this November.

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