By Alex Dinkel, Mental Health for US
It’s summertime during an election year, which can only mean one thing — it’s presidential nominating convention season!
If you’re anything like me, you’re waiting with bated breath for the start of the 2020 conventions. If not, you may be asking yourself, “What the heck is a presidential nominating convention?”
Well, I’m so glad you asked. Over the last six months, voters across the country have been participating in a series of primary and caucus elections, casting their vote for who they’d like to be their party’s nominee for president. While each of these elections are important in their own right, the nomination process isn’t technically over until the presidential nominating conventions are held later in the summer.
These conventions are the legal authority by which parties nominate their candidates for President of the United States. Most notable are the conventions hosted by the Democratic and Republican National Committees, but third parties including the Green Party and Libertarian Party host conventions as well. Prior to the creation of the modern primary election process, the convention offered the only chance delegates had to weigh in on who their party’s nominee should be. Thousands of people would gather every four years to argue and debate who was best suited to lead the party.
Throughout most of American history, the nominating conventions were often controversial, surprising, and contentious. In 1924, for example, delegates at the Democratic convention took 16 days and over 100 rounds of voting to decide who they would nominate for the presidency. With the adoption of the modern nominating process, however, the conventions have become slightly more predictable.
Nowadays, we typically know who the nominee will be well in advance of the actual convention. Without the shock and awe of deciding who the nominee will be on the convention floor, parties now use these 4-day, media-dominated conventions as a tool for free publicity — introducing their candidates for president and vice president and showing off the rising stars in within their ranks.
Although some might argue the conventions have become less impactful in the modern era, these events are still crucially important.
Aside from introducing candidates and showing off stars, the parties also use these conventions to highlight the policy platforms they’ll be supporting for the next four years.
With one in five Americans living with a mental illness and one in 12 living with addiction, the need for comprehensive mental health and addiction reform to be included in these conversations has never been more urgent. This becomes even more critical when you consider the fact that the psychological impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are leading to unprecedented rates of suicide and overdose deaths and increasing the demand for mental health services around the country.
As the country’s major political parties gather next month, the Mental Health for US coalition is calling on party leaders, delegates, convention attendees, and advocates to take a stand for mental health and addiction and talk about these critical issues during the 2020 conventions. For a starting point, read our policy platform.
The time for awareness is over. We need to hear how our leaders will take action to invest in evidence-based prevention strategies, expand and improve timely access to treatment and interventions, and support those living in recovery. We can’t afford to lose one more day, one more life, to stigma and inaction.
Spread the word!
Use the tweet below to encourage party leaders to #TalkAboutMentalHealth at their conventions next month:
We can’t ignore our struggling #mentalhealth and #addiction care systems any longer. @TheDemocrats & @GOP, #TalkAboutMentalHealth at the nominating conventions next month! http://ow.ly/efDG50At8dt