Last updated on August 27, 2020
Tim Scott worries about Democrats turning the US into a socialist utopia (like that’s a bad thing?) Lines apparently got snorted, because it’s all on them.
— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@BettyBowers) August 25, 2020
Chris Wallace: “While we're calling this a Republican convention, it's really the Trump convention.”
Some pundits are commenting on how Don Junior may believe that dad’s going to lose.
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 25, 2020
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) August 25, 2020
— jordan (@JordanUhl) August 25, 2020
— SafetyPin-Daily (@SafetyPinDaily) August 25, 2020
In 2020, the Republican National Convention is running on CPAC logic, too. The convention has been moving in this direction for decades, but the pandemic-forced format change makes that evolution far more obvious than in years past.
For Republicans and Democrats alike, party conventions are not what they used to be. From their inception in the 1830s through the mid-20th century, the conventions were a place for practical politics — bargaining over planks in the platform and literal smoke-filled rooms. At the Republican convention of 1880, delegates went through 36 ballots before they decided on a presidential nominee: Ohio Rep. James Garfield, who was not running for president and indeed only came to the delegates' attention when he gave a speech in another candidate's favor.
That could not happen today. Political and technological changes over the last 100 years — the use of primaries to determine presidential nominees, the broadcast of convention speeches to the general public via radio and television, and the ability to easily workshop platform content remotely — have combined to transform the conventions into little more than long-form infomercials.
All the process on display is pro-forma. The platform is drafted in advance. The nominee is selected in advance. Very rarely does anything unscripted happen, certainly not on the convention floor. (If you're looking for what's left of real convention drama, whether among Democrats or Republicans, I direct your attention to the rules committees.)
COVID-19's elimination of most of the usual convention elements has accelerated and highlighted this transformation. This year, the Republicans have no platform committee at all. Party leadership has rather decided to simply recycle the 2016 platform, with now-awkward derogatory references to the abuses of “the current president” left intact.
The Politicus is a collaborative political community that facilitates content creation directly on the site. Our goal is to make the political conversation accessible to everyone.Any donations we receive will go into writer outreach. That could be advertising on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit or person-to-person outreach on College campuses. Please help if you can: