President Trump’s Demand for a Full Arena Reveals that Party Conventions Still MatterRoundup
tags: Republican Party, political conventions, Donald Trump, 2020 Election
Laura Ellyn Smith received her Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi, Arch Dalrymple III department of history. She is currently teaching American Politics at Canterbury Christ Church University.
Covid-19 has upended the presidential campaign. The latest chapter: On Monday, President Trump threatened to pull the Republican convention (and the jobs and economic development that come with it) from Charlotte, unless North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper guarantees “immediately” that Republicans can fully occupy the arena.
The Republican National Committee has continually vowed to hold its planned in-person national convention in August, despite consistent public health warnings against large gatherings, and Trump’s threat is just the latest sign of Republicans’ determination to do so. Democrats, by contrast, have delayed their convention from July to the week before the Republican convention and are considering the prospect of remote voting and a more virtual event that would limit in-person interactions. But they, too, seem intent on holding some sort of convention.
Realistically, even if health officials give the parties the green light to hold their traditional in-person conventions, they will probably insist on unprecedented measures to try to ensure some form of social distancing.
The parties’ determination to hold conventions in some form is a reminder that even though some have questioned their purpose in the modern era, the nominating conventions remain a key part of our cultural and political fabric. While their impact has been undoubtedly diminished from the days when the parties arrived in the convention city unsure whom their nominee would be, these raucous gatherings are still iconic political moments that propel a campaign forward and have long helped to democratize American politics.
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