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Why Do We Have Political Conventions?

So, my question is this: If the convention is a security nightmare, if it's bad for business, if hardly anyone listens to most of the speakers in the convention hall, and if party leaders have already chosen the candidate long before the delegates meet to vote, then why in the world do we still have political conventions?
(CBS) The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by Correspondent Andy Rooney.
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The Republicans had their convention in Democratic New York City last week. The delegates met to chose their candidate. I've been busy, but I understand they decided to go with George W. Bush again.

Cities always think they're going to get rich off a political convention and they never do.

Boston thought it would get $154 million from the Democrats. It got about $15 million. New York officials predicted the Republican convention would bring in $250 million.

I went out this week, trying to find out who got that money.

Woman: No business ... all day long.

Man: Business is terrible. There's no way people can come in.

Man: Very bad...

Woman: Business is chaos ... We're going to close...

Man: Business has been dismal... I think we should have shut down this week and joined everyone out in the Hamptons.

Man: I guess we're not getting any tourists ... and even our regular customers, unless they work on the block, they're not coming down here...

Woman: Not really, not as well as we would have expected it to be, no.

Man: Well, not this week, not this week. It's been quite slow today.

Well, obviously none of them got any of that $250 million.

I went to several good midtown restaurants to see if they had any empty tables. The Four Seasons, a very Republican kind of restaurant, had nothing but empty tables. I spoke to one of the owners, Alex von Bidder.

"It's very bad. We are very lucky that we had two parties this week," says von Bidder. "Newsweek gave a big party and the campaign is giving a big party tomorrow night. ...Without the parties, we can go home."

Guastavino is a nice restaurant. We went there to see if the delegates were flocking in to eat. We stayed for an hour. The restaurant holds 500 people. Four came in for lunch.

I went to Bloomingdales, the big department store, to see if it was getting rich off the convention. How would you like to have been a salesman working on commission in their furniture department this week?

The fact is, the Republican convention was an economic bust. Most New Yorkers who could afford it, left town. There were more cops than there were people. One day, I spent an hour-and-a-half just getting past the cops the 20 blocks from my office to the convention center.

So, my question is this: If the convention is a security nightmare, if it's bad for business, if hardly anyone listens to most of the speakers in the convention hall, and if party leaders have already chosen the candidate long before the delegates meet to vote, then why in the world do we still have political conventions?

So 08.Sep.2004 13:37

pp

the fat-cat corporate lobbyists can woo all the politicians with multi million dollar parties and whisper sweet somethings in their ears.

See  http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=11511

Cartoonist: Khalil Bendib
Cartoonist: Khalil Bendib

Your memory is too short 09.Sep.2004 07:32

Mike stepbystepfarm ,a. mtdata.com

Ah yes, in recent years the party leaders of both parties have been able to use their conventions as spectacles becuase they were successful in determining in advance who the candidate would be. However that doesn't mean the fundamental purpose of the convention (to select a candidate, a platform, etc.) might not come into it's own again in any future cycle.

I'm old enough to remember hotly contested conventions where no candidate came in with enough delegates, where platform planks had to be promised in exchange for support, where there was the kind of wheeling and dealing to put together a ticket that works best face to face. The party leaders will try to prevent the return to that sort of convention becuase they are potentially divisive but they are not necessarily able to do so under all condiitons.

conventions 09.Sep.2004 12:32

my thoughts

Political conventions are like beauty pagents. Eye candy, no substance, dog and pony shows....and I am too young to experience the conventions that were meaningful.