Well, for DISCUS, the point is immediately clear. It's a marketing
and outreach opportunity. What better way to keep the regulators
off theirs back than to fete members of both parties, to remind
them of all the joy (and jobs) their companies brings to the
For the media outlets, it's a time for upstarts to prove
themselves, the old-timers to show off their historical pedigree,
and newspapers to meet face to face the people who still read print
Oh, and there's this whole convention thing.
When it looked like Tropical Storm Isaac was going to hit Tampa
and there was talk of canceling the convention, the "What's the
point?" question was raised. And without shame, both politicians
and pundits alike said, "Well, this is Mitt Romney's chance to make
his case, introduce himself and get his brand out to the American
The same thing will go for Barack Obama and the Democratic
convention in Charlotte, N.C. next week.
It's now hard to believe that there was a time when the
conventions actually served a purpose. Over the course of a few
days, delegates gathered and squabbled and shouted, wheeled and
dealed until they settled on a candidate. It wasn't a party to
rubber-stamp a previously agreed-upon nominee. It was part of the
Now, it's a four-day infomercial.
Couldn't the same thing be achieved by running half-hour or
hour-long advertising on broadcast TV? Or, if we're worried about
things possibly getting really unfair really fast -- the Democrats
wouldn't be able to keep up with the Republicans in terms of
spending this year -- the nightly news programs could devote entire
shows to the candidates.
Then again, the candidates might not participate. Politicians
have always preferred to get their messages directly to the people
without the pesky interference of meddling reporters.
So on we go with the political marketing events of the
Not that there's anything wrong with that . Better the American
populace know something about the people they will elect. And it
wouldn't kill them to stop watching "Honey Boo Boo" for a couple of
nights and pay attention to politics.
The conventions do bring a lot of money, every four years, to
two lucky towns. For the Republican convention alone, 2,286
delegates and 2,125 alternates descended on Tampa -- and that 's
not including support staff, family, media and everyone else. And
undoubtedly conventions serve to motivate the political operatives
at the state level. (One way said motivation is achieved is by
sticking underperforming states out in the boonies. Didn't deliver
last time, enjoy your stay in Clearwater!)
And they're good for the funny-hat industry.