convention

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convention,

in U.S. politics, a gathering of delegates to nominate candidates for elective office and to formulate party policy. They are held at the national, state, and local levels.

Organization and Characteristic Features

The organization of a national convention is the responsibility of the party's national committee, which begins making arrangements for the accommodation of hundreds of delegates and the administration of the convention at least a year in advance. Delegates have been chosen by a variety of methods, including primary elections, party caucuses, state and local conventions, or state and local committee meetings, but the majority are now chosen by primaries. Although the two parties follow the same basic pattern of basing representation on the population of the state and the party's strength within the state, the Democratic party introduced a series of reforms after the 1968 convention that modified its traditional delegate selection system. Quotas, assuring proportional representation for women, youths, and blacks, were used for the 1972 convention but later modified in favor of a general commitment to gender equality and minority representation. Balloting at both the Republican and Democratic conventions is by states. The unit rule, forcing all of a state's votes to be cast by the majority for one candidate, was abolished by the Democrats in 1968; it had been in effect since 1832. Although today the acceptance speech of the nominee is the recognized climax of the convention, it was not until Franklin Delano Roosevelt flew to Chicago to accept the Democratic nomination in 1932 that a nominee accepted the nomination in person.

History

State conventions for nominating candidates were first held in the early 19th cent. The first national convention was held by the Anti-Masonic party in Baltimore in 1831. Formerly the candidates for president and vice president were selected by a party caucus, i.e. a meeting of influential members of Congress, and they favored their colleagues. In 1832 the Democrats nominated Andrew Jackson at a national convention. The Republican party held its first national convention in 1856, when John Frémont was chosen as the presidential candidate.

Candidates were often selected only after many ballots had been taken. This was especially true of the Democratic party, which, until 1936, had required successful nominees to win two thirds of the delegates' votes. Thus, Stephen Douglas was nominated on the 59th ballot in 1860, Woodrow Wilson on the 46th ballot in 1912, and John W. Davis on the 103d ballot in 1924. The difficulty of gaining agreement on a candidate at conventions led to a unique feature of the American political scene: the dark horsedark horse,
in U.S. politics, a person unexpectedly chosen by a major party as a candidate for public office, especially for the presidency. A presidential dark horse is usually chosen at a party national convention and often has acquired only a local or limited reputation at
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—a candidate with little or no formal support before the opening of the convention, who succeeded in gaining the nomination. Since 1960, however, national conventions have tended to ratify front-runner candidates increasingly determined by delegates won in primaries and state caucuses, rather than select from among evenly matched rivals. National political conventions have thus changed from their initial function as nominating mechanisms into mobilizers of party energy for the upcoming campaign.

Bibliography

See P. T. David et al., The Politics of National Party Conventions (rev. ed. 1984); Congressional Quarterly, Guide to U.S. Elections (2d ed. 1985); B. E. Shafer, Bifurcated Politics: Evolution and Reform in the National Party Convention (1988).

convention

  1. any existing regularized social practice or accepted rule or usage. For the most part in sociology, the term is not used in a sense that departs greatly from everyday usage.
  2. in politics specifically, an established precedent in, or expectation of, procedures in political office, e.g. that the prime minister can call an election. Such expectations or conventions are not promulgated as written laws or formally stated rules, and thus are sometimes a matter of interpretation or dispute.
  3. in the US, the political assemblies convened’ to select presidential candidates.

convention

1. US Politics an assembly of delegates of one party to select candidates for office
2. Diplomacy an international agreement second only to a treaty in formality
3. Bridge a bid or play not to be taken at its face value, which one's partner can interpret according to a prearranged bidding system
References in classic literature ?
Desirous, however, of giving amply satisfaction to every pretence of prior right, by formal and solemn conventions with the chiefs of the neighboring tribes, they acquired the further security of a purchase.
Still continuing no less attached to union than enamored of liberty, they observed the danger which immediately threatened the former and more remotely the latter; and being pursuaded that ample security for both could only be found in a national government more wisely framed, they as with one voice, convened the late convention at Philadelphia, to take that important subject under consideration.
Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,
Right to hold land, right of property, is disputed, and the conventions convene, and before the vote is taken, dig away in your garden, and spend your earnings as a waif or godsend to all serene and beautiful purposes.
In short, their attitude was not that which one would have expected in men who professed to despise all trivialities, all foolish mundane conventions, and indeed everything, except their own personal interests.
For a time naive humanity swamped the conventions of warfare altogether; the interest of the millions below and of the thousands above alike was spectacular.
Their behavior was often grotesquely irrational; their conventions monstrously absurd; and yet, as she brooded upon them, she felt so closely attached to them that it was useless to try to pass judgment upon them.
My idea is that there's a certain quality of beauty in the past, which the ordinary historical novelist completely ruins by his absurd conventions.
In fact, when one comes to read the story of his life, and to know that he was really and lastingly ashamed of having once put up shoe-blacking as a boy, and was unable to forgive his mother for suffering him to be so degraded, one perceives that he too was the slave of conventions and the victim of conditions which it is the highest function of his fiction to help destroy.
We turned for comfort towards our fellow sinners, America, and we prattled about conventions and arbitration, and hundred other silly abstractions.
I will ask you no more questions save those which the conventions may permit you to answer truthfully.
But you are a woman just the same," he began, "and there are certain conventions, certain decencies--"