End the duopoly

End the political convention as we know it

11

Political conventions deserve a proper burial, but it’s time to put them to rest. At the end of a badly flawed nominating process, US political parties traditionally hold a largely pointless convention to formally crown their candidate for the November election. As both Democrats and Republicans struggle with how to hold an in-person convention during a brutal pandemic, this year presents a great opportunity for both parties to rethink conventions as part of broader reforms that the country so badly needs.

Historically, party delegates actually made important decisions at conventions — sometimes even in the proverbial smoke-filled rooms — picking their presidential and vice-presidential nominees and drafting a platform. Candidates gave rousing speeches, like FDR’s in 1932, which laid out the New Deal. But in recent decades, they’ve become just TV productions. Actual decisions are made by voters in primaries. The speeches, with few exceptions, are typically little more than vapid cheerleading, and the expense of holding conventions — typically funded by corporate donors — provides an avenue for influence-peddling.

“No business gets done at a national convention that couldn’t be done remotely,” Steve Grossman, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee told the Globe.

But these vestigial conventions are worse […]

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