It used to be that American political party conventions involved some genuine uncertainty about who would become the party nominee and spirited debates about what the party platform should contain since that was supposed to (at lest in theory) set the party’s agenda for the next four years. But those days are gone. Nowadays the nominee is known well in advance and the party platform is also decided on and approved in advance. The last bit of suspense, the nominee’s pick for the vice-presidential slot, is now also announced in advance. Conventions have become infomercials consisting of fulsome praise for the nominees and criticisms of the rival party and candidates.
Republicans under Donald Trump have done away with preparing a party platform altogether, saying that they will simply support Trump and his 2016 platform. This shows how the party has abandoned standing for any policies at all and will simply go along with whatever Dear Leader says.
This also leads to some oddities.
On June 10, the RNC’s executive committee voted to adopt the 2016 Republican platform unchanged, a decision that lasted two days before their presidential candidate blundered into the conversation:
The Republican Party has not yet voted on a Platform. No rush. I prefer a new and updated Platform, short form, if possible.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2020
Despite Trump’s tweet, the RNC had voted on a platform—they’d voted not to bother writing a new one—and they opted not to change course on his behalf. That means Trump is still officially running for president on a platform that argues that “all international executive agreements and political arrangements entered into by the current Administration must be deemed null and void as mere expressions of the current president’s preferences.” (It also supports statehood for Puerto Rico, a position Trump has said he opposes because he doesn’t like the mayor of San Juan.)
This move also suggests that none of those 2016 agenda items have been implemented (which is largely true, actually) and that nothing has changed since then. This is false since at the very least the pandemic should have suggested some statements about addressing the resulting urgent health concerns. But the Republican party, now the Trump party, seems to have adopted his attitude of simply not doing any work and phoning it in. Also some prominent Republicans are giving this show a miss.
Another Trump innovation can be traced to his vanity. Usually, the first three days involve people praising the nominee who appears only on the last day. Trump of course cannot bear the thought of there being a venue with a national audience where he is not featured and so he is apparently going to appear every day. In addition his children and their spouses and partners are also going to be featured so it will be pretty much all Trumps all the time.
This may not be such a good idea. There is such a thing as over-exposure. Trump’s attempts to hog the media spotlight with daily press conferences have not done much for his ratings. While I am sure that there are supporters who cannot get enough of him, that may not be true for others.
But Trump is desperate that he is behind in the polls and, narcissist that he is, likely thinks that this is because people are not getting enough of him. Although he comes from the world of reality TV, he seems to have forgotten a key principle of show business, “Always leave the audience wanting more.”