Politics on Point: political conventions

RICK: As a historic gathering place, Public Square has already hosted concerts, festivals, and a whole bunch of protests – in fact, protesters flocked to Public Square by the hundreds this summer during the Republican National Convention. In a new segment we’re calling Politics on Point, Nick Castele gives us a recap of the R-N-C in C-L-E – and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.


NICK: So, by now you’ve likely heard about a couple new nominees for president: in one corner is former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

– and, in the other, is businessman Donald Trump.

You’ve probably seen their faces a lot over the past few months, but how did we wind up with these two? Well last spring and early summer, the two major political parties in the United States – the Republicans and the Democrats – held what are called primary elections, which allowed members of their party in each state to whittle down a nominee from a list of candidates. Hillary Clinton beat out five other candidates, but Donald Trump had to fight off 16 others to come out on top of the republican race.

And while you were enjoying your summer break these two political parties…partied – and formally nominated their candidates -- at their respective conventions. These conventions are a large gathering of representatives of their party from every state and territory in the country. They probably don’t look like it, but these representatives – better known as delegates – hold a lot of power. They’re the ones that cast the votes that select the nominee.

But the delegates almost always vote for a particular candidate based on the preferences of the primary voters in the state they represent.

Today, the republicans and democrats typically identify a nominee before their conventions, so they’re not nearly as rowdy as they were in the 1800’s. Back then, these conventions were a vital part of selecting the nominee, and heated arguments – and name-calling – weren’t uncommon.

In more recent history, the conventions offer a chance to celebrate and rally around their chosen nominee – and they’ve become media spectacles! Here in Cleveland, we had a front-row seat to the media circus, as the Republican National Convention was held at Quicken Loans Arena – where the reining NBA champs, the Cleveland Cavaliers, play!         

As is custom, the republican convention featured a broad range of speakers to endorse, or declare their support of, the nominee, Donald Trump – everyone from high profile politicians, to celebrities, to his family. But, notably, one speaker – Trump’s former republican rival, Senator Ted Cruz – failed to endorse him, and in the most dramatic moment of the convention, was booed by the delegates as he left the stage. It was a moment that felt a little like a throwback to those raucous conventions of the 1800’s.

A week later, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton made history by becoming the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major party. Like the republicans, the democratic convention featured many speakers who showed their support for Hillary, including President Barack Obama, Former President and Hillary’s husband Bill Clinton, and, perhaps most notably, the Khan’s – the parents of a Muslim soldier killed while serving in Iraq, who criticized Donald Trump for his statements regarding banning Muslims from entering the United States. But this convention wasn’t immune to drama – supporters of Hillary’s democratic rival Bernie Sanders – held protests both inside and outside the convention.    

Both the conventions were held in late July, and, since then, the candidates and their running mates have been campaigning heavily across the country. They’ll be working hard until Election Day on November 8th – and so will we. We’ll return to shed some light on the election process – and brief you about the candidates, so you can make an informed decision when we ask you to cast your vote in our NewsDepth Election in less than two months. 

Instructional Links

Website Article: Scholastic, What Do Poltiical Parties Stand For 


Website Article & Quiz: Congress for Kids, National Conventions 


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