CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I have always loved the tradition of the national political conventions (and I have watched the events with great interest this year), but the days of the relevant, traditional convention are long-gone.
Today, national political conventions are nothing more than scripted Hollywood-style events selling one-sided messages to a justifiably cynical electorate.
Nothing that occurred at either convention is likely to have much of an effect on the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. Managed and scripted infomercials or the grandeur of massive balloon drops should not be the basis for the election of an American president.
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama offer vastly different visions of our future. Surrogates -- even grandiose speeches by former presidents -- are no substitute for evaluating the record, promises and vision of those that seek to take the oath of office on Jan. 20.
The simple truth is that nothing newsworthy happened in Tampa at the GOP Convention or in Charlotte at the Democrat Convention. They did, however, spend a lot of our money for nothing more than the equivalent of "days-long" infomercials. They are great events for political junkies, the party faithful and the partisans but the modern political convention does little to add to the national political discourse.
The cost to the taxpayers this year for these underwritten parties exceeds $136 million. Taxpayers directly contribute $18,248,300 to each convention and an additional $50,000,000 for security. That figure does not include the cost for delegates (several thousand per delegate), corporate subsidies (in the tens of millions), lost productivity in the host city, or other costs.
If taxpayer funding of these events did not raise enough eyebrows, corporate contributions to these elaborate events and the role of lobbyists and political insiders should also be a source of concern. When a company receiving $45 billion dollars in the 2009 federal bailout contributes millions to the Democrat Convention despite announcing earlier this year that it was laying-off more than 30,000 workers, the indignation of taxpayers is justified. When the city of Tampa uses taxpayer funds for the GOP Convention to purchase $319,400 for 200 new police bicycles, and $516,000 for new cotton uniforms, the public is justly troubled.