The Democratic and Republican national conventions typically involve thousands of people, from operatives to reporters to celebrities, in massive arenas filled with balloons, streamers, cameras, political posters, patriotic outfits and funny hats. Applause echoes off the walls. The host city buzzes with the unmistakable energy of a place that, for four days, is the center of the political and media universe. And at the heart of the operation are the delegates, many of them party loyalists given a chance to officially vote for their nominees. In the hallways, they stop for selfies with politicians, or exchange pins or business cards.
Not this year.
In the middle of a pandemic that makes any kind of gathering dangerous, both parties scratched their big plans and went, largely, virtual. Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, will be giving his acceptance speech from his home state of Delaware. President Donald Trump’s plans are still unclear, though he has suggested he might speak from the White House. As for the delegates, they’ll mostly be tuning in from home, like the rest of us. The DNC instructed delegates not to travel to Milwaukee, Wis., and the RNC invited just a few hundred of them to a pared-down event in Charlotte, N.C. Otherwise, delegates will be left to figure out for themselves how to celebrate what was supposed to be the dizzying, energetic high point of the four-year election cycle.