Nation: Part Ritual, Part TV Show

Does a political convention have any real purpose? Yes

Twenty thousand people poured into Detroit last week to attend the Republican National Convention. They did so at great personal expense and not inconsiderable inconvenience, and they did so even though they knew that the convention does not really do what it was designed to do: select a presidential candidate. The delegates have become bit players in what amounts to a ritual drama.

From the first full-scale convention in 1831 until 1972, the delegates actually did select a nominee, although the question was frequently settled...

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