Both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions are over now. (Can I get a Hallelujah from the congregation?) There were a number of things about them that I will undoubtedly talk about as time goes on, but one that stuck in my mind almost immediately had to do with the concept of Energy. And not the kind that comes from fossils fuels, nuclear power plants, solar arrays, and wind turbines; though they'll be touched on in a roundabout way.
That after all, is what political conventions are really all about, isn't it? The primary process in most cases picks the candidates before the conventions begin, and gathering the party faithful is designed to generate a little attention and excitement around those chosen party representatives. While the number of delegates for each state is predetermined by each party (Democrats choose more of their own than Republicans), the methods of choosing those delegates is largely left up to the states. Without getting too far inside baseball here, I don't think that I'd get much argument by stating that those who make the final cut are those who've shown the most energy in working for the party in general and the candidates nominated in particular. (The Ron Paul campaign, almost managed to change a part of that, but its subversion was itself subverted after all arrived in Tampa.)
The job of those delegates is to take the energy they possess down to the Convention, exhibit it in what is sometimes seen as an almost religious frenzy, and create even more by doing so. They're then to bring that energy back to their respective states, share it with others of the faithful who were not permitted to attend, and use it to propel their candidate to final victory in the November elections. While it's a process that's been used successfully for many years in this country, its very reason for being (Energy), may now be its downfall.
We live in a different world these days after all. One in which we are all striving to be more conscious of our responsibilities to each other and to the planet we live on, more accepting of the diversity inherent in the human condition, and less concerned with the often competitive nature of everyday existence .... (Sorry, a bit of an earlier meal attempted to come back on me after writing that last bit.) One therefore has to wonder about the energy expended in a process that is about little more than a competitive spirit that we seem to have long since foresworn.
Cities compete (rather than simply participate) to host these political conventions. Political parties compete to have bigger, flashier, and grander events than their counterparts. Speakers compete for greater numbers of applause pauses, soundbites, and good reviews; while simultaneously competing to see who can generate the most energy in the faithful. (I've heard that there's a side bet going on as to the volume of natural fertilize being generated, but no one will confess to it.) If an actual floor fight is involved to get to a nomination, even more in the way of energy is expended in choosing between candidates who must be largely the same anyway in order to have reached this stage of the process. Parties themselves compete for the bigger polling bump that their candidate can get from the convention process. All of this energy generated and expended however, is nothing compared to the energy that these events consumed.
While both parties eventually get around to talking about their respective energy production policies in these club meetings, neither seems to get around to talking about the energy consumed by holding them in the first place. We never hear about the carbon footprint of delegates flying into the host cities (let alone that of the corporate jets used by politicians, corporate sponsors, and lobbyists also attending). We don't hear about what's consumed in convention halls, hotels, restaurants, and bars as party faithful, parasitic pundits and policy influencers (lobbyists), and power seekers burn the midnight oil and both ends of the candle during these events. Neither does either party castigate the hundreds of mainstream media outlets, each of whom insists on bringing their own power-sucking cameras, generator requiring control trailers, and ponderous staffs to the event instead of following a more efficient policy of sharing and cooperation that often try to force down our throats where everything else in life is concerned.
No one talks about reducing the carbon dioxide expended (even though the EPA would like to limit it everywhere else) nor the hot air contributing to Global Warming that's generated each day on the convention floor. As each party's party closes in the traditional manner, do they stop to consider that in the thousands non bio-degradable balloons that they drop? Will any stop to ponder the environmental impact on landfills that so many rubber-chicken dinners will have, especially after they're piled on the Mt Everest size mound of discarded Starbucks coffee cups and plastic cocktail stirring sticks.
Neither does any of this touch on the energy expended in vitriol by each major party for the other. In spite of being largely and surprisingly in agreement on a wide variety of issues, they choose instead to focus 'negative' energy on those subjects on which they in some minor way disagree. Using veiled threats, horrible misrepresentations, complete mischaracterizations, and shameful character assassinations they castigate each other in ways that would be considered rude and boorish under any other circumstances; while simultaneously extolling the desire for a future spirit of cooperation and compromise.
I cannot help but conclude therefore that while both may have some form of national energy policy, neither of the two major political parties appears to have a 'Political Energy Policy'. Either that, or neither has one that's logically consistent with publicly stated goals and behavior of their members. Not only do they appear to be extravagant and wasteful in the use of energy for their own selfish purposes (One which, by the way, is funded in some part by money earned through the expending of energy on the part of taxpayers.), but they seem hypocritical and deceitful in doing so in what should be considered an indecorous effort and an ill-mannered fashion. One could go further to say that such events are indecorous for promoting a spirit of competition that they are trying to stifle in every other aspect of our lives. One could go so far as to call them politically incorrect for expending so much of what they constantly tell us are precious energy resources that must be carefully conserved in such partisan political events.