The air conditioned convention rooms of today crawl with iPads and cable cords but lack one thing: a genuine and indispensable role in the nation’s democratic process.
In a time where information is communicated in an instant, the basic purpose of national political conventions is quickly fading.
Today, each party’s nominee is chosen long before the delegates arrive at the convention; the gathering is nothing but a bunch of hype and hoopla with little significance.
The question that is being asked, with more relevance than ever before, is why do we need to have these gatherings at all?
“There was a time when decisions were made at the conventions,” said professor Chuck Ganzert, professor of political science and media at NMU. “But now, all of the real decision-making has been done during the primaries and before the conventions.”
Ganzert explained conventions have no real drama and few surprises; they resemble pep rallies more than they do a political convention.
A major reason national conventions are losing relevance with young voters is due to the prominence and accessibility of social media.
“Social media coverage of this election might have its greatest impact among college students and other recently franchised voters,” said David Carlson, professor of political science at NMU.
College students mostly rely on social media more than any segment of our society.
Being so accustomed to instant information in our hands at any time we want, it is no wonder campaigns are forced to meet the needs of generation Y.
Rushing to incorporate Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube into their campaigns has also decreased the significance of conventions.
Both the Democratic and Republican conventions aim to engage much larger audiences than those present at the events.
The Grand Old Party encouraged its speakers to post updates, take photos and conduct interviews through Twitter, Facebook and Skype in a green room devoted to digital media.
Four years ago social media were still budding. According to Twitter’s blog, the number of tweets on Election Day in 2008 is equal to six minutes worth of tweets posted today.
Watching four days of droning politicians on television is just not necessary when you have photos of the Republican stage under construction in Tampa and profiles of each of the delegates.
Users can interact with their candidates of choice with the click of a mouse.
Democrats say their assembly will be “the most open and accessible in history” while Republicans call theirs a “convention without walls.”
In a generation known for the social media revolution, it is no wonder some students are looking online for information rather than at their flat screens.
Some still avoid the social networking hotspot altogether, sticking to the old fashioned way of a television set and a coffee in hand.
However, with live stream, YouTube videos and thousands of photos posted each day, those open to the new ways of access have the opportunity to see the same, if not better coverage of the delegates and candidates than they can on television.
Social media allows modern day political parties to get their unfiltered message out to a much broader audience than in the past.
Personal messages from politicians or parties via social media also come across as more credible and genuine.
Broadcasters and newspapers are aware of the public’s preference of continuous communication via internet and social media, drastically reducing the air time and space they devote to conventions.
More media outlets are asking for viewers’ opinions through social networking sites.
“The TV networks have concluded that the conventions are not good or urgent programming,” Ganzert said. “They have shuttled them off to their smaller cable channels, for most of the week.”
The way political information is now communicated to the mass population has eliminated the need for delegates to hold conventions in a last ditch effort to persuade voters.
Extensive public opinion studies indicate that both parties only gain a short term advantage and voter decisions are not changed very much.
Little persuasion among the undecided voters occurs, and conventions have little impact on the election overall.
If politicans can reach their consituents through social media, than why should our country spend so much of its time on the parties’ national conventions.
It is an outdated system in need of reform to keep up with the chaning times.
In the generation of constant communication and instant information, who needs the smoked filled convention rooms of yore?
Political conventions of today serve more to fire up the troops in preparation for the final showdown and not necessarily to choose whom fights the battle.
It is time political conventions are shelved.