As Allahpundit noted the other day, some DNC insiders are suggesting that the 2020 Democratic National Convention may need to move online rather than trying to jam tens of thousands of people into a convention hall in Cleveland. Even if the spread of the virus has mostly subsided by then, what would happen if they caused a massive resurge of COVID-19 cases by doing that? Talk about bad optics.
The idea of a “virtual convention” seems to be catching on. Presumptive nominee Joe “Dear God Don’t Let the Teleprompter Fail Again” Biden is also warming up to the idea as he said during the Sunday shows this weekend.
“Well, we’re going to have to do a convention, may have to do a virtual convention,” Biden told ABC’s “This Week” days after the Democratic Party postponed the event until mid-August. “I think we should be thinking about that right now. The idea of holding the convention is going to be necessary, but we may not be able to put 10, 20, 30,000 people in one place. That’s very possible. Again, let’s see where it is.”
“What we do between now and then is going to dictate a lot of that as well,” he continued. “But my point is, I think you’ve just got to follow the science, listen to the experts.”
On Thursday, the Democratic National Convention Committee announced the four-day Milwaukee convention was being postponed from the week of July 13 until the week of August 17.
So what would that look like? Clearly the technology exists to pull it off in terms of all the speeches. People could just deliver them remotely and live stream them so the networks could tap into the feed. The voting might be a little dicier considering how many people would need to be accessing whatever app they decide to use for it. And imagine the embarrassment if the network crashes in the middle of the first ballot. (What? The Democrats having a critical app die on them at a crucial moment? That couldn’t happen, man. *cough* Iowa caucuses *cough*) Perhaps they could just have the leader of each state’s delegation sign-on and input their delegate totals and choices.
The committee meetings that always take place at the conventions could all be done via a conference call, with the same sort of app being used for the votes. Or if the committees are small enough, just a voice vote in rotation.
So the basic mechanics of dealing with the actual business of the convention could take place. But would it be the same? Would anything significant be missing? I’ll circle back to the one issue that Allahpundit pointed out here.
But again, all life would be drained from the oratory without an audience cheering. Consider how flat the rebuttal to the State of the Union address feels each year compared to the president receiving raucous applause from members of his party during his speech to Congress. Politicians need a live audience. Maybe COVID-19 will be sufficiently contained by July that speakers can address small groups of 100 people or so in their home cities and those addresses can be carried live sequentially to a national audience. Gotta have some sort of noise to rally voters.
Sure, you lose some of the excitement of the grand rally atmosphere of these things, but does that really impact that actual outcome of the election? The convention lasts for a few days and then we’re off to the races with general election debates, polls and all the rest of the madness. The convention is largely forgotten ancient history by the time we get to November. Besides, I was at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in 2016 for the entire thing. Maybe it’s just me, but it really wasn’t all that exciting to begin with.
There is one other thing missing from a virtual convention, however. Particularly if the Democrats are still fraught and stressed out over Joe Biden’s erratic behavior and Bernie’s radical socialism, there may be a lot of horse-trading going on in the cloakrooms as people seek to cut deals. You lose the intimate nature of such negotiations if you have to do it by phone. And that’s assuming you can actually get through to anyone while everybody is vying for attention remotely.
When I consider all of these factors, I find myself wondering if the DNC might not try to pull off a real convention anyway, viral pandemic be damned. And even if the event kicks off a new COVID-19 hotspot surge, I’m confident that most of the MSM will provide cover for them in the aftermath.