Political conventions aren't what they used to be. For years, before delegate counts were locked in by primaries and the presidential nominee was a foregone fact, conventions were where the deal makers and party movers and shakers got together, parlaying delegate support for promises and platform planks, and the nominee was picked after multiple ballots.
Today, they are pep rallies where the faithful get to jump on board the campaign express.
Political conventions may not get the gavel-to-gavel coverage that they got back in the days of Walter Cronkite, but they are still worthy of our attention. Speakers, like Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday, get to set the tone for the campaign, to zero in on the opponent. Others, like former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, get to show unity and express their support for the candidates they had formerly lambasted in the primaries. And some rising stars get to make themselves known. That's what happened with a young Sen. Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. His stirring keynote address launched him on a track to the White House four years later.
Republicans and Democrats rely on the conventions to rally the faithful, court the undecided, state their visions and goals, and build a head of steam for the hard campaign ahead. They are grand political theater, and worth listening to.