August 18, 2020

Long-time readers know I am not a fan of awards shows, often comparing them unfavorable to trade shows, and generally the worst trade shows of them all are our two political parties national conventions. The DNC and the RNC are traditionally a hold-over from another era where conventions really did matter and often did chose the standard bearer. It’s been a lifetime since then, and a format that had no function.

Anyway, now in the age of the Trump Virus, the assorted national conventions have finally evolved into a rather elaborate Zoom meeting, with all that that entails. This is a good thing; the Kabuki Theater aspect of the conventions lives on (everyone knows the outcome, it’s the performance that matters), but format and delivery finally leaves the old tropes behind. (Well, not all tropes: the little moppets from all the states and territories singing the national anthem and morphing into stars on the flag was right out of the playbook.)

What we were presented last night was an infomercial. A really well-done infomercial, complete with a comely narrator (Eva Longoria Bastón) and testimonials about the product and complaints about the other product. It is an improvement, and I’m going to tell you why:

We the people.

Last night’s effort featured not-slick testimonials from actual rank and file people who in previous DNCs would never, ever have been given screen time. Their messages were often presented live over Zoom, and they were definitely not staged or scripted; from doors opening (and slamming) to blurry phone cameras it covered the waterfront.

We knew that something different was happening when early in the program, George Floyd’s brothers were introduced, spoke about their brother and asked for a moment of silence. I’ve never seen anything like that at any convention.

Some testimonials were raw emotional appeals (Kristin Urquiza, a voter from Arizona), something we would never have seen in the old format:

…and others were slickly produced and beautifully scripted and presented, probably none better than Michelle Obama’s speech, above.

“Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”

It’s the denouement we wanted.

Sure, there were the other politicians pontificating to an empty room, well-rehearsed, pre-recorded speeches designed to build to a crescendo. They fell flat compared to Urquiza’s genuine words. More, please.

So I’m here to plead may the conventional conventions be dead and buried, and may the new format conventions have a long run.

Republished with permission from Mock Paper Scissors.

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