By Sam Burnham
So the political conventions are over. Don't worry, this isn't going to be a political post. Well, it's not going to be a typical political post. But something struck me while watching the convention coverage.
I was a teenager when the Democrats came to Atlanta to nominate Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen That was before the Olympics. It was the "Old Atlanta". And Atlanta's Omni was a small venue for this event. Since that day the Democrats have met in Boston, New York City, and, this year, in Philadelphia. The Republicans have compiled a list 0f large cities to have hosted their conventions as well.
I understand the point of a major metropolitan area hosting the conventions. Delegates need places to stay, something to eat, and some entertainment. You need accommodations for the press. You have to have a venue. It's reasonable to expect that a big city host this event.
Considering we had just visited Milledgeville on our road trip, along with seeing the convention venues, then add the images from a past road trip of Jimmy Carter in Plains and FDR in Warm Springs, it all had me thinking. Small towns have played a huge role in American History and Politics. Yet there is something about these parties meeting in big cities and maybe mentioning small town issues somewhere in the middle of a speech in hopes of pulling up a vote or five. It seems hollow.
And then I concocted as unrealistic of a dream as I could muster. I imagined the delegates of a party - people from Moncks Corner, South Carolina, Indianola, Mississippi, Ashland, Alabama, maybe even Gilman, Illinois or Remington, Indiana gathering at the national fairgrounds down in Perry to nominate a presidential candidate. Maybe they'd nominate a candidate that had grown up in Williston, Florida or Houma. Louisiana. Maybe the delegates could stay in campers or tents - like the media did at the DNC in Philadelphia. They could have the ceremonies in Reeves Arena or maybe even outside. Maybe their nominee would save some space in the acceptance speech, somewhere in the middle, to mention New York or Los Angeles just to get a few votes, but maybe they'd just ignore big cities all together - kind of like those big city candidates do to the small towns once they get elected.
These might be the same sort of folks who would rather have the seat of government in a small town like Milledgeville. They might be the type to take time to enjoy the sunset along Seven Mile Bend. They might like to play baseball barefoot on a hot summer afternoon. They might enjoy a beach that isn't overrun with condos and tourists. They might climb a tree on the edge of a salt marsh to ponder their next move.
It's all just a dream, just a figment of my imagination. Neither major political party is filled with those kinds of people. We don't have a major party that is going to do that any time soon.
But wouldn't it be nice to have one that wouldn't have it any other way?
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire