National party conventions haven’t changed much since the 1970s, when primaries began to replace smoke-filled rooms as the chief mechanism for selecting Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.
They have become giant TV studios.
The big decisions — namely the selection of the presidential and vice presidential nominees — generally are made weeks, if not months, beforehand. Dissent and drama are heavily discouraged. The main mission is message promotion — through as many media echo chambers as possible.
But that doesn’t mean nothing valuable can be gleaned from conventions. Last week in Tampa, through time spent with the Texas Republican delegation ...