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The Importance of Political National Conventions

What goes on at national conventions?

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Every four years, the major political parties in the United States – the Republicans and the Democrats – hold national conventions. These happen every time a presidential election is coming up. The parties use these meetings to decide on party policy, what political ideas they will fight for, and how they will nominate people in future elections. Most importantly, they officially name their candidates for president and vice president.

These days, we usually know who the candidate for each party will be before the conventions. The primaries assign delegates, and – for the most part – whoever wins the primaries becomes the candidate. That isn’t how it has always been, though. Up until the 1968 Democratic National Convention, whoever controlled the convention was the candidate, and it didn’t matter how many the primaries went.

That convention nominated the pro-war Hubert Humphrey, even when more than 80% of primary votes had been for anti-war candidates. There was a big protest at the convention, and things turned violent. To stop this from happening again, the Democratic Party began giving more weight to the primary votes. The Republicans soon followed.

Nowadays, the conventions also shine a spotlight on rising stars in the party. Former President Barack Obama became an overnight sensation after delivering the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Obama brought himself into the national spotlight with his speech, and it played a big role in helping him to become president.

What has been going on during the 2020 conventions? Joe Biden and Donald Trump were confirmed as the party candidates for the November election.

For Republicans, this convention is the opportunity give a glimpse at what the party’s future platform will be, as well as Trump’s plan in case he gets elected for a second time. Democrats sought to energize their base to get out and vote against President Trump, and to let people know what their candidate, Joe Biden, wants to do if he wins the White House.

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Jose Backer, General Assignment Reporter, is a graduate of St. Michael's College and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Political Science. Born and raised in Southern California, he currently resides in the Pasadena area.

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