As announced by Tim Kaine, the Chairman of the National Democratic Committee, the Queen City, Charlotte, has been selected as host for the 2012 Democratic National Convention beginning from September 3 next year.
Kaine, accompanied by the Mayor of Charlotte, Democrat Anthony Foxx, and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO, Mike Crum, visited the site of the convention, the Time Warner Cable Arena, to inspect its facilities and determine the modifications, upgrades and renovations required to comfortably house the over 50,000 participants expected to attend the convention, comprising delegates, officials, accredited visitors and members of the media. Preliminary plans indicates that the Arena will be closed down two months before the convention starts to facilitate the preparation for the Convention, which will involve audio visual enhancements, seating, visitors gallery, exhibitions halls and much more.
Despite being referred to as a “grassroots convention for the people,” by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, even the most casual of observers understands that the agenda of political conventions do not simply end with the nomination of a presidential candidate. Equally important, if not more so, is the presentation of the party’s platform to the delegates, grassroots and especially, the national audience.
However, unlike the round the clock coverage accorded to political conventions of yesteryears by the broadcast media, or the guaranteed front page billing by the print media, conventions nowadays have to compete with a much more congested world of instant news and sound bites. This has forced political conventions to adapt to ensure their party’s messages are not relegated to the background. Yet at the same time, it must maintain the long held tradition and function of a convention: disseminating the party’s policy, providing airtime to lesser-known party figures to publicize themselves to their constituents and honoring distinguished party members.
It is no different for the Democrats, whose Convention has evolved to maintain its relevancy. This is reflected most strikingly in its Convention schedule, where a careful mix of the itinerary featuring speakers, issues and entertainment, expertly spread over the duration of the Convention with strategically placed daily highlights, will ensure a maximum publicity of the event while guaranteeing their election platform are delivered to Americans.
The Convention, which normally runs for four days, will usually commence with a summons by the chair of the previous Convention calling the Convention to order. This will be followed by the traditional Invocation, Presentation of Colors (the National Flag), Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. Each of the events will be led by invited guests, who are normally distinguished Americans and/or minority representatives. Next up, there will be an introduction of the convention organizers, which in turn will lead to the handover by the previous Chairman and Committee Members to the new one.
A keynote and three principal speakers will be scheduled to speak during the prime time slot on each of the four convention days, beginning with the Keynote Speaker’s address on the first day. Selection as Keynote Speaker is a much sought after privilege, as not only will they be tasked with outlining the theme of the Convention over the next four days, it also brings great prestige as well as national exposure for the speaker. Sometimes, it can even prove to be a launch pad for something bigger, as President Barack Obama himself can attest to, himself being a Keynote Speaker for the 2004 Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. Other previous Convention Keynote Speakers includes Senator Mark Warner (2004), Senator Evan Bayh (1996) and former New York Governor, Mario Cuomo (1984). The three other principal speakers will be responsible in ensuring the continuity of the prevailing theme of the convention, as well as maintaining the interest of the national media.
Over the four days, a number of speakers will take the stage to either endorse the presidential candidate or speak about a current issue, seamlessly integrating the theme of the convention in it. The planks (or issues) of the party Platform have always proved to be a popular speech topic for the speakers. Video presentations and tributes to former and current leaders are common agendas in a convention itinerary. The Vice President would normally speak on the third day of the convention, which would also sometimes see the participation of celebrity figures, building up the frenzy for the closing day action.
The convention would conclude on the final day with a rousing acceptance speech by the President, amidst a carnival like atmosphere, spiced by performances of popular musicians. The ensuing climax would prove to be a perfect backdrop for the press that is crucial for the highly anticipated convention bounce. A successful closing day ceremony will see delegates returning to their home state filled with confidence that would hopefully be transferred to other grassroots members, which will be essential in the run up to the presidential election.