We all have our current political favorites. Mine are Ted Cruz and the president. Cruz because the man is brilliant. The president because the man is entertaining. And when the president is on, really on like at one of his rallies, his comedic timing, his charisma, his power of expression are things to behold.
But ask yourself, do you really like to hear hours and hours of speeches from any group of politicians, even if you agree with them? If you’re not wearing a drool bucket or a tinfoil hat, the answer is probably no. Even the president, and his clumsy tendency to talk too much every second of the waking day, can fall into this category from time to time.
Then throw in the surreal snorefest the Democrats have produced this week and the matter becomes clear, the tendentious infomercial that defines modern political conventions is a practice long past its prime and should probably be taken out back and shot.
We do not live in a world of Winston Churchills or John F. Kennedys, when oratory could inspire and captivate. That’s only one of the myriad reasons tv ratings for this week’s Democrat televised fiasco are, like their candidate, in the basement. Even if they love them, do even true believers want to hear Bernie Sanders or AOC spout several minutes, if not more, of pieties and platitudes punctuated by clichés? In this day of 15 second social media clips, does anybody want to hear anyone else go on ad nauseum about anything?
Now I know, as a man who was in political media for close to twenty years, that nothing is sweeter to a pol of any stripe than the sound of their own voice. The narcissism level of many candidates for office is at suborbital levels and that means any attempt to limit their verbal screeds will be met with opposition and most times veto. But what they are ignoring are the people who matter most. Not their staff, or operatives, or consultants, or families, or pals, who all have one stake or another in keeping them happy.
They are ignoring voters and common sense assumptions. If they didn’t they could go to almost any street corner in America and ask passersby, “Would you watch a multi-night television show that primarily featured politicians reciting canned speeches?” Aside from the culturally and intellectually dodgier sections of Manhattan, DC, and Los Angeles, what do you think the answer would be? In the heartland, in places like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, what do you think swing voters would say? Bingo.
So the premise of the modern political convention is wrong. It’s this 19th and 20th century tired hybrid that must be retired. But then, how do you nominate a candidate and get a good public relations bang out of it?
One night, speeches limited to 10 minutes, remote broadcasts from swing states, and no more than 2-3 hours. All the other official business can be done out of the limelight but broadcast on C-Span for shut-ins, the mentally unstable, and gluttons for punishment.