Political Conventions: Then and Now
(photo courtesy of the Republican National Convention)
The Republicans have finished their convention and the Democrats are just getting started, but how much have the conventions changed over time?
Quite a bit according to Mike Murphy, the former Chairman of the Marion County Republican Party and trustee of the Indiana Historical Society. Murphy says if you go back to the days of Benjamin Harrison, about 130 years ago, you would be hard pressed to find a candidate for President at a convention. They would usually stay in hotels across the street, or at home, but dealing with the masses at a convention was "unseemly." Now the candidates spend most of their time at the convention or at related events.
Another change is the media coverage. When we entered the age of mass media, eager newsrooms would air conventions gavel to gavel. Now a couple hours every evening is the taste of the convention most of the public gets. It's for this reason, Murphy says the conventions of the future might be a day shorter. Conventions are expensive, the messages are tightenend up and approved by the national party, and Murphy thinks the events could easily be rolled back to two or three days.