Exclusive - Preparing for the Conventions

07/15/2016 Views: 28,102

Desi Lydic offers a primer on how the modern DNC and RNC came to be, and what to expect at each of them. (4:11)

(audience applauding)

- Let's talk about the conventions.

Like the Olympics, they come around every four years

just to create traffic jams in their host cities.

Now, over the next two weeks,

we'll be coming to you fromCleveland and then Philadelphia.

But before we takeoff, Desi Lydic is here

to tell us more about this great American tradition.

- Thanks, Trevor.

Earlier this year, millions of Americans went to the polls,

gave their name to a lonely old widow,

and cast a vote in their state's presidential primary.

Well, those voters weren'tactually voting for candidates.

They were picking delegates

for the parties'quadrennial conventions,

where they'll spend four days

in a redecoratedbasketball arena

to officially select their presidential nominee.

Right after theyselect something stupid

to put on their head.

I mean, really, really stupid.

They also create the party's platform,

which spells out its core beliefs.

It's kind of like their 10 commandments.

- No trans people in bathrooms!

(explosion booming)

(crowd applauding)

- But more than all that,

a modern convention's real purpose

is giving each party a week-longprime time infomercial.

Mostly that means politicians giving speeches.

Four straight nights of why their party

is the only one that can save America,

from whichever version of hell the other party would cause.

(crowd cheering)

Sometimes a convention speech can even

jump-start a political career.

- There is not a liberal Americaand a conservative America.

There is the United States of America.

- (laughing) Oh, you sweet, naive man.

It all leads to the maybe-next-president

triumphantly accepting their party's nomination.

And sometimes a tonguedown their wife's throat

while we all try not to puke.

And after the big speech, balloons!

Yay, balloons!

Who doesn't love balloons?

Oh, goddammit!

I told you, no real balloons! (bleep)

The very first presidential convention was held in 1831

by the anti-Masonic Party.

And for most of the next century,

the conventions were where party big-shots

got together and picked a nominee,

without necessarily asking for anyone else's input.

And nobody knew, going in, who that nominee was gonna be.

Although chances are, they were gonna look like

the headmaster at a school for troubled young men.

And with no TV schedule to adhere to,

nobody knew how long theconventions would last.

In 1924, it took the Democrats 16 days

to settle on their nominee.

And that was during Prohibition,

so they couldn't even drink.

I mean, how do you even do your job without drinking?

But in 1968, the convention chaos got a little too chaotic

when Democratic insiders nominated Hubert Humphrey,

who hadn't won a single primary

and supported the Vietnam war.

And that made anti-war Democrats unhappy,

which was apparently a good enough reason

to start beating the shit out of them?

After that, both parties moved to expand the primaries,

so they could settle ona nominee ahead of time.

So by the 1990s, the most chaotic convention moments

looked like this.

(dance music and cheering)

Now of course, back then they had no idea

that the Macarena caused lung cancer.

(audience laughing)

Better times, better times.

Trevor?

- Thank you, Desi, so we're all going to the conventions.

You must be super-excited.

- Oh, yeah, yeah I sure am.

In fact, I even got myself a festive convention hat

with an elephant and a donkey,

giving each other a special hug.

(audience laughing)

- [Trevor] Desi, ah,

I think those animals on your hat as 69-ing.

- Yeah, well, whatever you wanna call it.

I like to call it

the ultimate act of bipartisanship.

(upbeat music)