Doing Things Differently at the 2012 Democratic and Republican Conventions
Both parties showcased women in greater numbers than their actual representation in party councils. Roughly 36 percent of the speakers at the Republican Convention were women, excluding entertainers. This was more than the 30 percent of the speakers at the Democratic convention who were women. By comparison, at that time women held only ten percent of the Republicans seats in both houses of Congress. They were 22 percent of the Democratic House members and 38 percent of Democratic Senators. Although few state legislators are honored with a spot in the convention limelight, they do provide the base from which those elected to higher office often come, and thus are a source of future convention speakers. There were a lot more Republican state legislators than Democrats in 2012, but the Democrats elected more women. Women were 30% of all Democrats serving in the state Senate and 32% of those in the lower house. They were 14.7% and 18% of the Republicans in those bodies. Some of these women will become governors and attorneys generals, who along with senators, are often asked to speak at the conventions. In 2012, only one of the two Democratic women governors spoke, and one of the five female attorneys general. Three of the four Republican women governors had time at the rostrum, and one of the two attorneys general.
No explicitly feminist organization held public activities at either convention, but some organizations of women and organizations whose focus is on women's issues sponsored events.
The Republican Party platform is strongly pro-life, but no head of a pro-life organization spoke to the convention. Instead, pro-lifers held a luncheon at the Republican Convention.
Conventions are magnets, drawing to them political junkies of all types and the people who report their stories to the larger public. In addition to politicians, party workers, and media, anyone promoting a cause or a position or a product sees convention week as fertile ground. Issue groups, commercial businesses, lobbying groups, membership organizations – anyone who can afford to rent some space and provide an attraction – comes to search for support, educate potential decision makers, shape public opinion, or market their wares. Some entities go to both conventions; some only to one. Party styles are a bit different. Democrats go to caucuses and rallies. Republicans go to luncheons and receptions. Both go to policy panels and parties.
Citizens United Productions screened four films at the Republican Convention, "Occupy Unmasked" sought to tie the Occupy movement of the previous year to President Obama, implying that his re-election would lead to more disruption and social disintegration. In its promo, CUP said the film would reveal "the sinister, organized, and highly orchestrated nature of its leaders and their number one goal: Not just to change government, but to destroy it."
CUP is the documentary film production and marketing arm of the conservative advocacy group Citizens United. It's best known as the plaintiff in a 2010 Supreme Court decision that ruled that there could be no limits on corporate spending on elections made independent of campaigns. That decision was prompted by the release of CUP's 2007 film "Hillary: The Movie" which attacked Hillary Clinton when she was running for President. The Federal Election Commission initially ruled that the film was an "electioneering communication," which could not be released to the public within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary. In a 5–4 decision, the Court held that prohibiting corporations or unions from engaging in such actions was an unconstitutional ban on free speech. It extended the logic of its 1976 decision, Buckley v. Valeo, which had held that individuals can make unlimited expenditures on elections, but that their contributions to campaigns could be limited. The Citizens United decision gave birth to the campaign against "corporate personhood" – the idea that corporations had the same constitutional rights as people.