Don't cancel parties' parties

Posted: September 05, 2012

Former Gov. Ed Rendell will be reporting for us this week from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

DESPITE THE FACT that the convention doesn't start until Tuesday, almost all the Democrats - delegates, donors and supporters - arrived on Sunday or Monday.

On the night before the convention starts, each state has a welcome party for their delegation. Political talk dominates at these affairs, but there was considerable Steelers-Eagles talk at our party as well.

This is the first time in recent memory that our convention has been shortened from four days to three, and the networks have reduced their coverage to one hour. In fact, some people have questioned whether we should bother having conventions at all.

My answer is a resounding "Yes!" First, it gives most people their initial opportunity to get an unfiltered look at the candidates and their spouses. That was particularly important this year when almost no one knew anything about the Ryans or the Romneys. The convention coverage gave millions of Americans insight into their personalities and the values that inform their judgments.

Second, and perhaps most important, conventions give the party's delegates and supporters a chance to feed off each other and from the speeches to get their batteries recharged for the campaign's final weeks. These people are the crucial foot soldiers in the battle ahead. It is vital that they return to their states fired up and full of optimism.

I remember our 1984 convention in San Francisco. We had nominated the first woman, Geraldine Ferraro, to be on a national ticket. Our presidential candidate, Walter Mondale, had made a great acceptance speech. We were so high we could have flown home without a plane. Of course, 10 weeks later we got clobbered by Ronald Reagan, but it was great to feel that excitement.

There is also something very American about a national convention. I have always found that my sense of how special our democracy is was elevated by meeting and talking to delegates from all over the nation.

Democrats from Alabama, Oregon, Maine and Iowa are different in many ways, but every one of them shares the belief that politics is important and that government can and should play a part in improving the lives of our countrymen. So we are all very much looking foward to hearing from Michelle, Bill, Joe and Barack. Let's have fun and let it rip!

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