JIM CREES: Big on show, short on substance

Jim Crees

By Jim Crees
Guest Columnist

What is the purpose of today’s political conventions?

Back in the day, (Yes. Back in MY day), political conventions meant something.

My folks used to actually make us watch grainy, black-and-white, one-camera coverage of political conventions because they considered them history in the making.

That was back when there were still convention floor battles. We really didn’t know who was going to be a party’s presidential candidate until the last roll call vote.

Even as kids we would get at least a little excited. My mom kinda turned political conventions into some sort of educational experience. She would give us a pencil and pad and we’d have to listen to each state divvy up the delegate votes until finally one candidate or the other carried the day.

Balloons would drop from the ceiling. The band would strike up “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Then, only then, we would go to bed.

Today, things are way, Way, WAY different.

We know weeks, if not months ahead of time who the party’s candidate is going to be.

So, the question begs to be asked — What’s the use or purpose of all this silliness?

(And when I say silliness, I mean Democrats and Republicans alike.)

What is the purpose for this monumental waste of money?

The GOP just wraps up it’s wastefest, and the Dems head for Charlotte, to pour another few million down the sewer.

Really!!??!!

Was anyone in doubt who would be the GOP candidate for president in 2012?

Is anyone out there still pondering who might — just might — be the Democratic candidate for president?

And … do we really need to spend this much money just to have the faithful on both sides of the aisle approve an already pre-determined platform?

Look. At a time in which each and every candidate, delegate, and political activist is bemoaning the state of the economy and whining about the frivolous spending habits of the other side, the Democrats and Republicans will collectively spend something in the area of $136 million on two parties.

One-hundred thirty six MILLION.

That is $136 million so that a very few people can put on ridiculous hats, slap on fraternity-style vests with gaudy pins, get stupid drunk and then gather to approve the obvious.

And all on the taxpayers’ dime.

By the time the Dems’ convention comes to a close, the Federal Election Committee will have pumped $18 million into the coffers of each of the two national political conventions. That’s general funds — money to pay for everything from booze to bunting.

Members of Congress — apparently understanding the importance of these conventions differently than do I — also allocated $50 million to be divvied up for security at the two conventions.

That, to sum things up, is $136 million, and that is not the total of what we actually be spent by the parties themselves, independent donors, state political organizations and whoever else is looking to be an ambassador following the election.

Keep in mind that taxpayers chucked some $18,248,300 to each of the Republican and Democratic national committees through direct contributions — a total of $36.5 million. And this specifically earmarked for the presidential nominating conventions.

Still, the minimum bill to taxpayers for the Democratic and Republican convention will be $136 million … plus.

All this money is spent on two big parties as both political parties moan and groan about the debt, economic decline, and general doom and gloom.

Heck, the GOP had a “Debt Clock” trailer running throughout the convention — even as they were wasting tens of millions of dollars on … nothing.

And the Dems are categorically no better.

Political conventions today are nothing more than declarations of the obvious.

There is absolutely no logical reason in a normal world to spend close to $150 million so that a bunch of silly people can all get together and cheer for the painfully plain and agonizingly apparent.

There were no secrets or surprises here.

There were no questions to be answered or issues to be ironed out.

There was, and will be this week, two giant parties not at all unlike some huge fraternity gathering — except for the fact that all this giggly, giddy-up, yahoo fun is on the taxpayers’ dime.

Realistically speaking, both the Democratic and Republican conventions could have been held in the Evart Middle School auditorium at a cost of two or three grand … total.

But, no! They had to show who could waste money more efficiently and effectively.

Listen, boys and girls.

Mitt Romney is the GOP’s candidate for president.

My best bet is that by the time this paper comes out, Barack Obama will be the candidate from the Dems side.

Both the individual party platforms have been approved by the fawning faithful.

So all the rest of it?

Institutionalized masturbation.

Sad, but true.

 

Jim Crees is the features editor at the Big Rapids Pioneer. He can be reached at jcrees@pioneergroup.com.

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