Why Do We Have National Conventions?

Why Do We Have National Conventions?

(LibertySociety.com) – Every four years, before the presidential election, America’s political parties hold massive events. The Democratic National Convention (DNC) and Republican National Convention (RNC) are usually carried by multiple news networks, allowing millions of voters to watch live. And although the events may seem like four days of partying, they actually serve an essential purpose.

“We Nominate…”

Historically, the national conventions were where the parties selected their presidential and vice-presidential nominees. In the modern era, parties know who their candidates will be before the DNC and RNC take place, but it wasn’t always like that.

In 1972, the Democratic Party changed its convention rules after the 1968 DNC led to infighting and unrest. After protesters took over Lincoln Park in Chicago and behaved violently, The National Guard was called to help. To prevent a repeat, the McGovern–Fraser Commission was formed to make the nominating process easier.

After the 2016 presidential election, the Democratic Party once again changed its nominating process to prevent discord within the party after a brutal primary race between Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Republicans have had their fair share of problems, as well. In 1976, the RNC looked like it might be brokered, but Gerald Ford was ultimately able to get enough uncommitted delegates to support him over Ronald Reagan on the first ballot.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a brokered convention is one where no single candidate receives a majority during the first vote. The last time that happened at the RNC was in 1948.

In 2019, there was also talk about the GOP changing its nominating process to prevent a fight at the 2020 event, but it was unnecessary.

“I Accept the Nomination”

These days, the parties have the nominations down to a science. There’s much less chance of a fight on the convention floor because the delegates are divided based on the percentage of votes each candidate receives. However, it’s important to note each state party has different policies, the chance of a brokered (contested) event still exists. It’s just not as likely as it was 70 years, or so, ago.

Now, the conventions are a place where the nominations are made official, and the candidates accept. Each party uses the events primarily as a way to plead their cases to the American people. Members make impassioned speeches in the hopes of garnering support for their platform.

The conventions are an excellent way for citizens to take stock of the politicians vying for their vote and decide if the candidates represent their values.

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