By Elijah Smith, Political Correspondent
For the past 231 years, our nation has endeavored on a revolutionary experiment, a government that is built on the premise that all men are created equal. Despite urgings from our first President, George Washington, the first major political parties started just after the foundation of our country; George Washington’s prophecy of factionalism and division came true. Today our country is more divided than ever, and nothing embodies that division more than the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Before the advent of the nominating conventions, the presidential and vice-presidential nominees of each party were selected by members of Congress of that party in a Congressional Nominating Caucus. However, the system collapsed in 1832 when the Democratic Party held its first national nominating convention in Baltimore, Maryland. The first Republican National Convention was not convened for another 24 years in 1856 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The conventions have been held every 4 years in various cities across the country since their respective starting years.
The 2020 Democratic National Convention was held from August 17th to August 20th, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as well as from locations across the nation. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, original plans for an in-person convention were scrapped in exchange for a hybrid nominating system. Throughout the convention, dozens of speakers painted a picture of a moral imbalance between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. They portrayed President Trump as a man lacking empathy and former Vice President Biden as a man who can relate to pain because of the pain that he has endured. On the last night of the convention, former Vice President Biden formally accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination. During his speech he summed up the convention’s message, saying, “Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy, they are all on the ballot. Who we are as a nation, what we stand for, most importantly, who we want to be.”
The 2020 Republican National Convention was held from August 24th to August 27th, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Washington, DC, and other locations across the country. Unlike the Democratic convention, the RNC was held primarily in-person; however, the number of audience members was greatly limited. The convention primarily focused on the accomplishments throughout President Trump’s tenure, namely the economy, military strength, and border security. The big overarching theme of the Republican National Convention was the idea of a great American comeback. Speakers claimed that President Trump is the most anti-war president of modern history, that his actions have ended the “endless wars,” and have prevented us from getting involved in other similar military messes. They portrayed President Trump as tough on crime, good for peace, and compassionate on those who are hurting. President Trump officially accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president on the 4th night of the convention, saying that “We will reach stunning new heights, and we will show that the world, for America, there is a dream, and it is not beyond your reach. Together we are unstoppable, together we are unbeatable because together, we are the proud citizens of the United States of America.”
The Democratic and Republican National Conventions are just the beginning of the end for each presidential election cycle. While more than a year is dedicated to choosing a candidate for each party, there is generally only 2 to 3 months between the conventions and election day. With only 2 months until the election, the conventions will be one of the last opportunities for the candidates and their political supporters to make a direct appeal to the voters. Of course, much can happen between August 24th and November 3rd, but the national conventions set the tone and theme for the rest of the election cycle.