By Alan Pell Crawford
Encouraging news on the convention front: Even more Democratic office-holders are saying they won’t go to Charlotte. This will further sap prestige from events that, while gussied up to look like democracy, are increasingly something out of a European court—albeit one with “American Idol” touches. Our conventions, Smithsonian says, have become
coronation ceremonies—carefully choreographed political theater in which the outcome is preordained. Every detail is accounted for, from the text of the speeches to the number of balloons dropped on the red-white-and-blue-clad delegates. The overall goal is to project an image of party unity, a ritual coming together following an often divisive primary campaign.
In the case of the Democrats, the primary season, at least on the presidential level, wasn’t remotely divisive. No one in the party stepped up to challenge an unpopular president whose has disappointed liberals as much as he has enraged conservatives.
Steve Israel, a New York congressman who is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in fact has told House colleagues facing tough elections to skip Charlotte. “If they want to win an election,” Israel said Tuesday, “they need to be in their districts.”
Israel insists his advice has nothing to do with congressmen distancing themselves from President Obama. “I don’t care if the president was at 122 percent favorability right now,” he said. Attending the convention may be “interesting, but why leave your districts?”
That Israel still thinks such a spectacle might be interesting suggests there’s still some work to be done on this front, but we’ll let that pass.