Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Remembering Conventions Past

As the Democratic Party's convention opened last night in Denver, El Jefe and I were reminiscing about the "old-time" political conventions we avidly followed in our youth. Those of you of a certain age will remember along with us the days when the (3) national networks went wall-to-wall with 24/7 coverage of every speech and caucus of both parties.

Back in my teens and early twenties, I was an idealistic political junkie. Along with my parents, I watched every minute of television coverage and read the analysis of the pundits in Time, The New Yorker, and the San Antonio Express-News. So did El Jefe. Except he read The National Review and the Borger News-Herald.

Yes, my children, in those days stuff actually happened at the conventions. The vice presidential nominee wasn't chosen in advance by the presumptive presidential nominee. Sometimes the presumptive nominee was very very presumptive and votes changed at the conventions. My ambition was to be a delegate at a national convention someday and take part in momentous decisions.

But all that changed. Now both conventions are tightly controlled and scripted. Their purpose is not to choose the nominees of the party or adopt the positions in the party platform, but to be infomercials touting the ticket and trying to woo undecided voters.

We're not undecided, so we won't find ourselves watching much convention coverage this year. But I do remember with wistfulness those days when my family gathered around the TV set and felt that we were a part of the great events of the day.

12 comments:

Gannet Girl said...

As I was watching Hillary last night, I was wishing that I could IM you and share impressions! I just knew that down in Texas you were following with as much interest and a different perspective.

When Michelle Obama was speaking Monday night, I was thinking about the 1968 convention, the first one I was aware of, and about watching the riot in Lincoln Park and thinking, "This is convention politics?"

And then I thought about what must have been the 1992 Republican Convention. We had just left NC (same as this year!) and were watching Pat Robertson on a motel room tv in Georgia as he spoke on "family values," when one of my sons turned to me and said, in his little 7yo voice, "I don't get this, Mom. You don't agree with a single thing that man is saying, and we have a GREAT family!"

It's a wonderful time for reflecting on the variety and capacity for change that continually recreates the USA.

Quotidian Grace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quotidian Grace said...

Yes, it would be great to watch the conventions together! I didn't see all of Hillary's speech due to Beatrice's hapless pursuit of a wild cat in the backyard, but from what I did see she did a great job with it. She showed a lot of class.

There's some buzz now that McCain will choose Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison for veep--but I find this hard to credit.

Hutchison's husband was a member of El Jefe's law firm, and the word is that she wants to leave the Senate, return to Texas and run for Governor in 2010. She and her husband adopted two children a few years ago and she wants more time with them, according to rumor.

We'll see what develops..

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

ah yes... i can remember the days when things actually happened too. it's a sad statement when i have no interest in watching, or reading, or hearing about it at all... it's like "reality TV" only political.

Reformed Catholic said...

That's one of the reasons the networks aren't devoting any prime time to the conventions anymore.

Everything is a foregone conclusion due to the primaries and the push to get down to a single candidate by March. A handful of states gets to choose a candidate, which the party faithful in rest of the country have to swallow whether they like it or not.

Its just 4 nights of another scripted reality show, and the networks can make more money from sponsors by showing normal programming.

Rev Kim said...

I remember those days too...and I long for them now. The first conventions & election I remember were in '72. My parents were and are staunch Republicans - they voted for Nixon in '60. I remember really wanting Nixon to win in '72 though not being entirely sure why. But when I asked why, my mom was sure to tell me! As a kid I was very aware of politics and the world affairs. I'm so glad that my parents instilled that in me.

Purechristianithink said...

My parents are getting ready to move into a retirement community and so are in "sorting and tossing" mode. In the "toss" pile: two cruel embroidery pictures of flower arrangements that my Mom made in 1968 while watching the national conventions on TV. The "Republican" flowers are harvesty shades of brown, yellow and orange. The "Democrat" flowers are a wild profusion of pink, turquois, and green. If I'd had room in my suitcase I'd have taken these home with me.

Purechristianithink said...

I guess I meant crewel embroidery. Though when I was a kid and my mom was trying to teach me embroidery, I would have opted for cruel.

Gannet Girl said...

Looking at these comments, it's interesting to see the effects our parents had on us. I can remember my father talkng about abandoning his independent registration so that he could vote for JFK in the 1960 primary, and about the surpise of the poll lady when he went in to vote in our heavily Republican precinct. "Why, Mr. Gannet, I'm not sure I know where the Democratic ballots ARE."

And my bafflement, knowing his views, when he took us out of school to see Sen. Goldwater on a whistlestop train tour in 1964. (We lived in a VERY small town.) "Well, he might be President," said my dad, "so you should see him." His view, always: you need to participate, and not lose your sense of humor in the process.

These days, my dad enjoys answering his phone with the words, "Obama Headquarters!" He is always full of hope that the person on the other end of the line is one of his staunchly Republican friends.

ElastiGirl said...

love these stories - did not grow up in a politically active household - I know my parents always vote opposite each other - first convention I remember was 84 - I was almost old enough to vote so I paid attention to it, but it was never exciting...
like you, I already know how I will vote in November, so I have not watched any of this one & won't the next one either

Wendy Bailey said...

REady to play ... you've been tagged.

Stratoz said...

I, as elastigirl, did not grow up in a political household. The democrats could have had a fight for the delegates which would have been less staged and more honest. However, it would have led to open divisions instead of the staged unity. Last night at a friend's house was the first time I recall watching a convention.