The GOP Convention, also called the Republican National Convention, is a presidential nomination convention held every four years by the Republican Party. The name ‘GOP’, which stands for ‘Grand Old Party’, is a traditional nickname for the party that originated in 1875 and has stuck since then. The traditional and formal purpose for the GOP Convention has been to select candidates to run for president from the party.
It has also been used to set the rules for the party’s upcoming activities and decide the process for the presidential nominating process during the next election period. However, changes in election laws and procedures have rendered the GOP Convention and the Democratic Convention ceremonial and removed most of their original purposes.
In recent times, the GOP Convention has been used by the Republican Party to declare its presidential candidates and to also bring together and declare the party platform. The points made in the platform are chosen by the party members and incorporated into the presidential campaign.
The GOP Convention over the years
The first Republican Convention took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in February 1856. During this convention, the party was formally organized nationally and the first national committee was also selected. Another national convention took place later the same year to nominate the party’s presidential candidate in Philadelphia. Abraham Lincoln, the first U.S. president from the Republican Party, was nominated as a candidate during the 1860 Republican convention.
The next Presidential Convention held in 1864 was unique in that it also included Democrats loyal to the Union. The result was the nomination of Andrew Jackson as vice-president, who was affiliated to the National Union Party. On Lincoln’s death, Jackson became president of the U.S. and the only one in the history of the country to be a part of the National Union Party.
The first GOP Convention that was broadcast live on television was held in 1940 by W2XBS, the television network became the foundation for NBC later on. The 1964 GOP Convention was another landmark for the Republican Party. It showed the importance of the primaries when Senator Barry Goldwater (AR) won the presidential ticket over other more popular nominees, including Governor William Scranton. This happened once again during the 1976 GOP Convention, when Governor Ronald Reagan (CA) almost beat Gerald Ford, who was then president, in the primaries. This was the last convention of either the Republican or Democratic Party where there was a doubt over who would get the nomination.
As the Republican Party has become increasingly conservative, there have been some GOP Conventions were right and left-wing members have been at loggerheads. In 1992, Pat Buchanan delivered a speech about his extreme conservative views, which ended up alienating a number of voters who were otherwise planning to vote for the more moderate George H. W. Bush. The rifts within the part have been seen in later GOP Conventions as well. For example, Governors William Weld and Pete Wilson once tried to remove the pro-life plank from the platform during the 1996 GOP Convention.
The last GOP Convention was held before the 2012 elections, and it saw Governor Mitt Romney (Massachusetts) securing the presidential ticket along with vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Other nominees except for Ron Paul had asked their blocs to vote for Romney for the ticket some time before the convention. This policy platform that was adopted by the Republican Party during this convention had similar planks from previous conventions with some new ones that are given below:
- Advocating a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union only between man and woman and for the right of the federal and state governments to deny recognition of same-sex marriages; an increasing number of Republicans are now backing away from this plank and changing their stance
- Limitations on Medicare that includes an increase in the eligibility age and conversion to a fixed amount payment program rather than coverage for each patient’s medical bills
- A guest worker program that advocates long-term detention of undeportable immigrants
- Greater transparency of the Federal Reserve through more audits
- Opposition of all current regulations that try to curb climate change and reduce the power of the Environmental Protection Agency, and giving more freedom to corporations to lower their impact on the environment
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