David Frum wrote an article last week for Opinion Journal that is worthy of discussion regarding the party conventions of the Democrats and Republicans — he suggests that they would be more useful and interesting if we got rid of the media circus and the two major presidential candidates.
But what if the journalists were absent? Not because they were banned, but because they did not bother to show up?
Party conventions could then discover a new purpose as showcases for emerging talent. With the candidate speaking in front of Mount Rushmore or wherever, the party’s next generation and second-tier figures could regain the convention microphones that have been progressively removed from them over the past three decades.
Sitting governors could be given platforms to detail their records in their states. Promising younger officials could participate in panel discussions and debates — and take questions from party members across the country. Right now, the parties are too busy staging a show for the whole country to tolerate any risk that some second-tier political figure might bore the audience or stumble into some off-message mistake. But with the press voluntarily absent and the voting public’s attention fixed elsewhere, mistakes would become less disastrous.
There is one main reason why I believe this could be a good idea. I can’t speak for the Democratic side of things, but the Republican farm team has been stuck in Single A ball. We haven’t done enough development of promising local talent, and rising regional stars like Governors Jindal and Palin need more exposure to the rest of the party as well as bulking up their resumes / achievements for future stardom. That’s why we are stuck with the presidential / vice presidential prospects we have. There aren’t many quality conservative prospects out there who are willing to take on the challenge of running for president. If we start now with our recruiting and training process, maybe in 4-8 years we will have someone that conservatives AND the rest of the party can support. It’s alarming how much better the Democrats have become at recruiting good young talent in local races to take seats from the Republican incumbents. We need to match and exceed their efforts to keep our party competitive for the long term.
It’s a shame this would never happen, because the media loves having something big to talk about, and the two political parties don’t have much of an incentive to avoid all the free publicity gained by these televised events. It would be too much of a risk for the parties and the media to take, and we know how risk-adverse they both are — but maybe we can find alternative ways to achieve the same objectives.