Monday, August 27, 2012

august 1956: chicago, illinois

The national political conventions, held every four years to nominate presidential candidates, used to be fun to watch, sort of, at least for a geeky guy like me.  Now they are four-day coronation ceremonies for candidates that were already pre-selected... Obnoxious, to say the least.

The first convention I ever watched on TV was the 1956 Democratic National Convention, held in Chicago.  Hey, don't give me that look -- I was very young at the time.  Adlai Stevenson was the candidate nominated to unseat Eisenhower, but the part of the proceedings that I remember is the entertaining campaigning and voting on the convention floor for the vice-presidential running mate.  Stevenson had thrown the selection for V.P. to the convention delegates to decide.  This was the first time I had ever heard of Senator John F. Kennedy, who was making a run for the veep role.  The vote went to three ballots (more than one ballot??.. unheard of in any convention since then), and the nomination went to Estes Kefauver (Don't you just love these names -- "Adlai"?  "Estes"?).  The Stevenson-Kefauver ticket lost to Eisenhower-Nixon, but Kennedy went on to be the presidential nominee and president four years later, in 1960.
A little known fact:  Jerry went to Adlai Stevenson's funeral in July 1965 in Springfield, Illinois.  His dad was a major Stevenson fan.

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