The Republican National Convention started this morning, and four nights of prime-time coverage begin tonight. I’ll be watching as much as I can, not because I’m a fan of President Trump and his fellow Republicans. I’m likely to do a lot of foul-mouthed talking back to the TV screen, but I’ll be watching. I know some folks are advocating that nobody watch so the convention gets poor ratings, but I think we should pay attention. Here’s why I’ll be watching:
1) I’m curious about how they’ll do it in this Zoom era. For the most part, the Democrats did a great job putting everything online except the “parking lot” rally at the end. Folks were masked, distanced, and polite. I did gag a bit at the Zoom montages that one radio commentator called a blend of infomercial and “We are the World.” A bit much. But it was swell to see the roll call vote coming from each state and territory rather than a crowded auditorium. I loved hearing the speeches without constant interruptions for applause, shouts and demonstrations. Bringing all of Biden’s primary opponents together in unity on the screen made me feel good about this country. I’ve been watching political conventions since LBJ was the Democratic nominee. This year’s Democratic National Convention was more entertaining than usual. The Republicans are doing a combination of online and in-person events. We’ll see how that goes.
2) I grew up in a family of news watchers, and I spent too many years as a journalist to ignore breaking news. I’m fascinated, even if I don’t have to write it up for an impending deadline.
3) This is history happening before our eyes. Last week, we saw the first black woman nominated for vice president of the United States. We saw prominent Republicans publicly endorsing the opposing party’s candidate instead of their own. We saw the candidates speaking to a camera in an empty auditorium. I don’t know what the Republicans will come up with, but I do know it will be unlike any previous convention.
All that said, as I watched the inspiring speeches last week, I kept thinking that the people who needed to see all this were not watching. The same will be true this week. It’s boring, they’re busy, the candidate they don’t support is not worth listening to. The timing is inconvenient, too late on the East Coast, too early on the West Coast. True, but you’d make the sacrifice to watch the summer Olympics, the Superbowl, or the finals of American Idol.
Too many Americans don’t vote at all. For most elections, the turnout is less than 50 percent. It goes up to about 60 percent for presidential elections. Why isn’t it closer to 100 percent? Of those do vote, too many people will vote based on rumor, innuendo, paid advertising, and what their buddies say, none of which is necessarily based on fact. Democracy depends on an informed electorate. To be informed, we need to listen to both sides, even if one side makes our skin crawl. I won’t tell you how to vote, but please pay attention to both sides, make up your own mind, and vote.
Sorry to get all serious on you, but these are serious times. Besides, if you don’t watch, you won’t understand what they’re talking about on Facebook. Keep up, friends.
Stay well, wear your mask, pray for everyone dealing with wildfires and hurricanes. Annie-the-best-dog-in-the world says hi.