Thursday, July 14, 2016

POLITICAL CONVENTIONS OF YORE

Election intrigue continues as this preliminary to the 2016 Presidential campaign goes on.   I haven't had so much fun following all the unpredictable antics beginning prior to the Primary Election -- and now, with rumors that one of the political party's pre-convention planning may include determining how to thwart their presumptive candidate's nomination --  since I was first able to vote -- listened to and viewed political party conventions.

That's not to say I haven't considered  this year's election prospects with great concern, even alarm, especially with the rhetoric of one candidate,  but sometimes I have had to laugh in order to keep my sanity.  Make no mistake there are vital issue outcomes at stake in November's final vote. 

When I harken back to the '50's -- more people were beginning to afford owning TVs then -- cable was emerging to allow viewing in communities previously without service -- I could actually see and hear the nominating convention process that had  previously only been described on radio.

TV was becoming the hot technology of the time -- in the years ahead video was  progressing  from black and white to color -- sound was evolving from high fidelity (hi-fi) to stereo (stereophonic) sound -- actually allowing us to view the convention halls with newsmen (no women) who had star-like status calling a sports-like play-by-play from up in their booth overlooking activities on the stage and in the auditorium below.

On the convention floor investigative news-types scurried about from state groups to state groups seeking news crumbs, or ideally some major revelation with which to startle their news anchors and the viewing public.  Then there were only three major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) who competed rabidly with one another to be the first with some new information bit.

The party platform and convention rules had been ironed out in meetings held in the days before the televised convention began  There was likely some "fine-tuning" in many areas throughout  the actual convention along with delegates jockeying about in support of their candidate.

Each state's elected representatives arriving were busy back-slapping one another.  There could be contentious moments between groups as to who actually had the legitimate credentials to represent their state, but those disputes we viewers were often only privy to after the fact in news commentary during the proceedings.  

The higher-up electors with political party bosses were busy negotiating one thing or another  in those legendary cigar and cigarette, occasionally a pipe, smoke-filled rooms.   Who was picked to be a convention's keynote speaker  always had great significance.

When the opening ceremonies preliminaries  finished in the auditorium, the countdown began.  From the stage a stentorian-sounding voice began an alphabetical roll call of each state.  As a state's name was called to cast their votes for the candidate(s) chosen in the months earlier primary election process, we heard that delegate group's leader shout out a flourishing response of varying length.

Each state's spokesperson praised their state's assets, attractions and claim to fame.  Their words often started with "The great state of ...(fill in the blank)... with many lakes...", or "The magnificent state of ...(fill in the blank) -- home of more presidents than any other state...," or one of my favorites was the declaration "The territory (or commonwealth) of ...(fill in the blank)...proudly casts its votes for......!"    Alaska and Hawaii had not yet become states until 1959 in different months when I first viewed these conventions.    So, I always was fascinated as they passionately advocated their state's attributes and dedication to our 48 continental United States as that phase of the procedures concluded.

Votes were tallied and then began the process of determining a winner.   If the first ballot had not decided one, in subsequent balloting states representatives maneuvered about more freely, deferring to one another for nominating a candidate.  Some delegates were released from voting for the candidate they were pledged to on the first ballot so they could vote for whoever.   Some years more than one ballot was required to select a final candidate as tensions would build from ballot to ballot with sessions going late into the night.   Ongoing pressure-filled meetings out of the camera's sight and newsmen's hearing (yes, still just men)  were the order of the day.

Who knew what all was going on off camera but news accounts offered lots of "leaks" from 'informed sources' -- spiked with a quote taken out of context --  plus adding a degree of  speculation -- all made for a tantalizing mix.  Once a candidate was finally chosen the normal loud boisterous noise became ear-splitting with the sound reverberating throughout the auditorium.

Another day and it was time to select a Vice President.  In some elections wheelin' an dealin' to decide the Vice Presidential running mate was an activity if -- he--  hadn't already been selected but generally the choice was ostensibly the nominated President's choice.   That's right, "he", until the year many years later when a "she" was actually selected for the first time to be the running mate or second banana Veep by one of the two major parties. 

That final night  we also ultimately  met the Party's chosen Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, their spouses.  Other activities, speeches, culminated in delegates vocalizing in noise-making volume becoming louder, faster, higher in pitch, reaching almost sound barrier breaking level with balloons and/or confetti snowing down on all.  Viewers were there -- seeing it all!

Here's a link to the simplified version of what we can expect in 2016 as Political Party Conventions Day-By-Day will proceed like this:

Day One -- Keynote Speaker
Day Two -- Credentials and Platforms
Day Three -- The Nomination
Day Four ---   Picking a Vice Presidential Candidate

Suspense fills the air for the Republican Convention already in progress for preliminary behind the scenes rules making and platform determination.  There are rumors the Presumptive Presidential Candidate rejected by so many party faithful could encounter delegate rules changes jeopardizing his nomination -- or not!   What then?   Reportedly none of the Party's  living previous presidents or the party's prior nominee will attend the convention in Cleveland, Ohio  beginning July 18-21, 2016.  

The Democratic National Convention is in Philadelphia, PA July 25-28 with their presumptive presidential candidate expected to be nominated with little dissension.   Her primary competitor has finally endorsed her, but only after achieving adoption of some issue positions he promoted.   If she -- that's right, a "she" -- is nominated, this would be a first for our nation so could arouse a high level delegate reaction.

Both conventions will be telecast and also can be viewed via live streaming video on the internet.  



8 comments:

  1. I've always watched the televised portions of the conventions, having owned my own business that was easy to do at work. This year's should be interesting but I'm also worried about violence---not that that hasn't happened before. Trump now says he's going to announce his VP tomorrow, ahead of the convention so that takes some of the mystery out of the RNC's. All three of my favorite late night comedians are going to be live from the convention floor so I'm looking forward to that as well.

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  2. I will so not be watching anything except maybe the acceptance speeches and that is a maybe. I have little patience for speeches, have only watched the debates this year and not all of them. Since I watch little TV, it's not hard to avoid them. Some years I've had enthusiasm for a candidate-- not so this year.

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  3. I also will not be watching either convention. I'm sure that I will get more than my fill of both conventions just enduring the nightly news broadcasts that I generally watch.

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  4. I am looking forward to the 2 conventions, as I believe it is history in the making.

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  5. Your recollections of 50s conventions exactly match mine. I was enthused about following them for years, but interest has waned. This time, I'll probably tune into the GOP meeting for a while to see if there is a serious effort to dump Trump. If Clinton picks a veep before the Democratic Party convention, I see little reason to watch that one. The issues between the parties and candidates seem quite clear to me, and I know how I'll vote unless some incredible event changes my mind before November.

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  6. Dear fellow political junkie, I'm for the party of Fran Dressler. This year I will not stay up watching conventions. I'm old, I'm tired.

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    1. I hear you! There's a good possibility i may seek some respite if the affairs go on too long.

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  7. I was traveling during the conventions, but I saw some of it on Comedy Central. Tsk.

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