Political Conventions Are Now Literally Party Advertisements

Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal/POOL via ZUMA

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For the past few decades all the old guard political reporters have bemoaned the fact that political conventions serve no real purpose anymore and are basically just prime time ads for the political parties. Well guess what? COVID-19 has finally turned them literally into party advertisements: just a bunch of prerecorded segments edited together into a 2-hour infomercial.

And it’s great! The pace is livelier than live conventions; more people get to speak since their segments can be more tightly controlled; and in an era of media sophistication I’ll bet viewers like it better. They know perfectly well how it’s being put together and they don’t mind.

So here’s a semi-prediction: Four years from now conventions might remain virtual. It’s a helluva lot cheaper for the parties. It makes for a better show. And the candidates have tighter control over the whole thing. The only thing missing is the buckraking parties that can only take place in person, but maybe modern fundraising techniques make those unnecessary anyway. Check back in four years to see if I’m right.

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If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

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