Political conventions are usually quadrennial affairs used to officially nominate a party's candidate for president and vice president and adopt its political platform. At the state and county levels, conventions are used to nominate or select candidates for state, county, or district elections.

These conventions, which are attended by elected officials, delegates and activists, also provide an opportunity for the party leadership to disseminate information on election strategy. In addition, conventions offer an unrivaled networking platform for its participants.

At its infancy, national conventions are wholly responsible for electing a party's presidential and vice-presidential nominees. However, the introduction of the modern state and county level primaries and caucuses have somewhat diluted the clout of conventions, and instead, turned them into a media event - albeit one that offers a powerful post-convention 'bounce' for the nominees.




, Pennsylvania
Wells Fargo Center and The Pennsylvania Convention Center
July 25-28 2016


It wasn’t immediately obvious to journalists, delegates and viewers at home, but if we take a step back at the end of the 2016 Democratic National Convention and view the colorful four days at the Wells Fargo Center as a whole, the motif of the entire event becomes apparent – it was intended to be an anti-Trump advertisement.

The convention was designed to collectively project a theme that stands in sharp contrast to everything that the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump stands for. The convention was hopeful and optimistic; it embraced multi-ethnic, religious, and sexual diversity; it exuded a sense of empathy and kindness; and above all, it believes in the present greatness of the United States.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the 2016 Philadelphia Host Committee also deserve commendation for the almost perfect production of the four-day event, which spanned between July 25 and July 28, 2016. At times, the convention even resembles an award show – not least because of the plethora of stars present.

Of course, not everything was perfect. The first day of the convention was marred by frequent boos and chants by delegates of Sen. Bernie Sanders. WikiLeaks Julian Assange’s decision to release almost 20,000 hacked DNC emails, which contain a handful of emails showing the personal bias of several DNC officials in favor of Hillary Clinton during the primary process, was akin to pouring gasoline to an already raging fire. It even led to the resignation of DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Sen. Sanders though proved that he was loyal to the progressive cause by insisting on party unity, and worked hard behind the scenes to quell the anger of his supporters. In a small rally with supporters before the start of the first day of the convention, Sen. Sanders was shockingly booed for his calls of unity.

However, the disruptions were only really evident early on the first day. It was almost unnoticeable thereafter. However, small, low-key demonstrations outside of the Wells Fargo Arena continued well into the eve of the fourth day – and they were heavily reported by the press, which gave many viewers a flawed perception of what was essentially a rather quiet convention.

Probably the only real complaint during the convention is that it peaked early and the shortage of heavyweight speakers on the final day, as evidenced by the slightly lower TV ratings compared to the Republican National Convention’s fourth day. Nevertheless, the first three days and total four-day viewership easily outperformed the rival convention.

The first day of the convention, which among others, featured sterling speeches by Minnesota Senator Al Franken, wheelchair-bound activist Anastasia Somoza, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and actress Eva Longoria, rose to another level with a stunning speech by First Lady Michelle Obama. Even Sen. Sander’s brilliant speech, which included an unequivocal and complete support of Secretary Clinton, was put to shade by Mrs. Obama’s deeply personal speech.

Actress, director and producer Elizabeth Banks was host for Day 2, and not surprisingly, the day featured over three dozen Hollywood glitterati. The roll call of the states, which was expected to cause some conflict on the convention floor by supporters of Sen. Sanders, turned out to be a rather tame affair which ended when the Vermont Senator magnanimously requested the suspension of the roll call vote and the confirmation of Secretary Clinton as the nominee. The highlight of the evening though was Bill Clinton’s epic speech, a spectacular demonstration of how a skilled orator can turn even the most ordinary of topics into an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

The third day featured some of the biggest political names in America today, including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and true to form, they delivered. His remarkable speech aside, Mr. Obama will be remembered for his incredible endorsement of Secretary Clinton. Mr. Biden’s speech meanwhile, left many wondering as to why the blue-collar champion did not seek the party’s nomination – such was the impact of his speech. On any other day, vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine’s speech would’ve received great acclaim – but he was in the company of two extraordinary orators which, perhaps unfairly, lessened the impact of his well-crafted speech.

Day 4 was all about Secretary Clinton, and every other speech of the night was building towards her acceptance speech – which explains the shortage of star power. However, there were several standouts, particularly the speech by Mr. Khizr Khan, father of fallen U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan. Mr. Khan’s public flaying of Mr. Trump became an instant national sensation, and will haunt Mr. Trump for a long time to come. In the final part of the evening, after a beautiful and intimate introduction speech by Chelsea Clinton - and an impressive introduction video - Secretary Clinton took to the stage to accept the party’s nomination. Her speech was not a flamboyant one, but its sincerity and conviction connected with the audience.

Despite repeated raucous chants of “USA! USA! USA!” heard throughout the convention, the Democratic Party has not embraced the nationalist sentiments fast spreading across the nation. Instead, the convention saw the Democratic Party going back to its roots as a center left party. The convention also released the Democratic Party’s most progressive platform in history – a testament of its shift to the left for the first time in about three decades.

More on the 2016 Democratic National Convention


, Ohio
Quicken Loans Arena
July 18-21 2016


The 2016 Republican National Convention was initially viewed with trepidation by Republicans all across the nation. Held in the Quickens Loan Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, between July 18 and July 21, 2016, the thought of multiple competing factions converging at the convention brought visions of chaos and disorder that might embarrass the party and severely impact its performance in the general election in November. In the end, it turned out to be no less raucous than the Democratic National Convention, which was thrown into turmoil by the last minute WikiLeaks revelations of hacked Democratic National Committee emails which showed several high-ranking officials favoring the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

Yes, the convention was still dogged by controversies, such as Melania Trump’s plagiarism accusations and Ted Cruz’s stinging non-endorsement; or even musicians like Adele, Aerosmith, Earth, Wind & Fire, REM, Neil Young and The Rolling Stones who were upset that their music were used during the convention. And there is also the matter of party stalwarts who refused to attend the convention in protest of Mr. Trump’s candidacy, including former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who famously said that he had to mow his lawn during the convention.

However, despite the hurdles, challenges and concerns, the 41st Republican convention was a rip-roaring success by almost every measure – although Day 1 started with some anxious moments when delegates from six states tried force a roll call vote ahead of schedule in the hope of shifting enough support to Sen. Ted Cruz to get his name on the ballot. But the motion of the anti-Trump coalition was dismissed when three states went back on their pledges after pressure from officials of the Republican National Committee and Mr. Trump’s floor whip team led by his campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Harmony, on the surface at least, was restored once the survivors of Benghazi took to the stage, and the convention’s focus was shifted to Secretary Clinton. Energizing speeches from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Melania Trump, and sitcom legend Scott Baio completed a remarkable turnaround of the day.

Day 2 proved to be an immense improvement compared to Monday. Mr. Trump was officially nominated as the Republican Party’s candidate for president, and most of the delegates were reveling in the carnival-like atmosphere. Of course, a succession of great speeches helped to improve the mood of the audience. Speeches by, among others, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, unified the delegates in attendance, as the concept of conservative governance and the danger of a Hillary Clinton presidency took center stage. Mr. Trump’s children, Donald Jr. and Tiffany, also delivered eloquent speeches that would’ve moved quite a few fence sitters into the GOP camp.

The third day of the convention tried to pick up where it left off on Tuesday, but a small flag-burning incident outside of the convention hall by protesters dampened the atmosphere inside the Quickens Loan Arena. Texas Senator and Mr. Trump’s fiercest competitor in the primary race, Sen. Ted Cruz, made things worse when he refused to endorse Mr. Trump during his speech. More damagingly, Sen. Cruz even repeated the most recognizable mantra of the #NeverTrump movement, “vote your conscience” – a calculated insult at Mr. Trump. But help came in the form of Eric Trump, and especially, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich whose electrifying speech once again unified the delegates to aim their sights at Secretary Clinton.

The fourth and final day of the convention began with speeches by three evangelist pastors (Mark Burns, Jerry Falwell Jr. and Tony Perkins) aimed at the social conservatives in the party, which then abruptly transitioned to deeply personal speeches by two billionaire businessmen, Peter Thiel and Tom Barrack. Mr. Thiel’s speech, in particular, was historic as he became the first openly-gay speaker at a Republican convention. Crowd favorite Ivanka Trump’s well-received speech, despite its progressive elements, perfectly sets up the final speech of the night – the acceptance speech of Donald Trump. Mr. Trump proceeded to rouse the crowd with his usual fiery bravura, and held them spellbound with a stark vision of America under a Clinton presidency. Considering the number of times the audience went up on their feet, there really was no need for chairs in the hall that night.

The 76-minute speech, which created history by becoming the longest presidential nomination acceptance speech ever, proved to be a massive hit, and in true Trump style, inspired days of coverage and discussion on the national media. More importantly, the speech marked the reunification of the party (well, mostly), and will ensure a unified Republican Party in November.

More on the 2016 Republican National Convention






, Florida
Rosen Centre Hotel & Resort
May 27-29 2016


987 delegates from all across the nation convened at the Rosen Centre Hotel & Resort in Orlando, Florida between July 25 and 28 for the 2016 Libertarian National Convention. Top on the agenda in Orlando is the election of the party’s nominee for president and vice president for the 2016 presidential election.

Strong anti-establishment sentiments pervading the current national political landscape has fueled the Libertarian Party’s recent surge in popularity, and selecting the right candidates could see the party breaking the 15% polling threshold and participate in the presidential debates for the first time in its young history.

True to form, it became a contested convention when strong showings by libertarian activist Austin Petersen, riding on the #neverJohnson wave, and anti-virus legend John McAfee, probably aided by his awesome campaign videos, prevented favorite Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor, from securing the nomination on the first round of voting. Gov. Johnson clinched the nomination after winning the second ballot by capturing 56% of the delegates. However, his victory was marred when it was discovered that he threw away a replica of George Washington's Flintock pistol gifted by Mr. Petersen. Gov. Johnson was probably still smarting from several exchanges with Mr. Petersen during their presidential debates. The pair has since exchanged complimentary messages on the social media, suggesting they have buried the hatchet.

More on the 2016 Libertarian National Convention



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Joe Biden
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