By Emily Rosen
When I was a kid, what I hated to hear most from growns up were sentences that began with, “When I was a kid.” Such beginnings were sure to garner wide yawns, and something akin to, “Yeah yeah, yeah!” and an under-the-breathe, “So what?”
Nonetheless, I’m about to write nostalgically about one of the things I miss most about the time “when I was a kid.” Back in “the day,” believe it or not, we never knew who either political party would nominate for president and vice president until the actual convention. We would sit by the radio, and in latter days, actually watch the proceedings on our black and white TV screens. And the build up time prior to the conventions was only a few months – certainly not years.
Several big-wig politicos would take turns approaching the microphone in a tremendous arena filled with musical bands and balloons, and straw hats and signs, and people mostly wearing some kind of symbolic red, white and blue accessory or garment.
Traditionally, a male homeboy from the state of the nominee, in a sonorous voice, would “nominate” a presidential candidate, followed, by an expanded résume of qualifications – talk about yawns. Then came the “seconders” of the nominee, and more yawns. Often, there were several nominees —yawns to the max.
But the part that I most loved to hear and watch was the state by state roll call that took forever: “A-L-A-B-A-M-A” to ‘W-A-S-H-I-N-G-T-O-N.” The delegates from each state having voted the previous night “in caucus” for its own nominee, would have one “proud” representative announce the winner of that state, accompanied by another yawnie speech. Until it became obvious that one nominee had the majority of the votes, we would sit there in suspense not really knowing who the winner would be. And by “W-A-S-H-I-N-G-T-O-N,” of course, it was all anti-climactic. Also, it was getting late. But the entire procedure was repeated for the nomination of vice president, who was not – in those days – necessarily the selection of the presidential nominee.
Much of the old hoopla has been preserved, except for the suspense part. Delegates still go nuts at conventions and whoop it up with a bit too much booze and attention to other people’s spouses.
Now we are witnessing the most obscene expenditures on presidential campaigns in our entire history, with so much more spending to come. Families are still struggling to keep themselves together, and, next year, we will witness yet another twin obscenity when the two political parties will party hearty, performing acts of shameful theatrical redundancy ostensibly to nominate two (four!) who have already been nominated.
When I was a kid, some folks had to sell apples on the streets. When I was a kid, we had a war to lift us out of our economic gloom. But “having a war” doesn’t work any more, nor does having two or more wars.
But the one sure thing is – while families are starving we’ll still have a bunch of people making whoopee, while giddy, with hope for the future.