NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The Democratic National Convention starts on Monday, but it will be unlike anything ever seen before.
Through wars, depressions and other times of difficulty, delegates have always gathered to select the party’s nominee.
However, the coronavirus pandemic makes gathering in person nearly impossible.
“It’s the first crisis that we’ve had that is really forcing a total reconsideration of what conventions could be,” says Julian Zelizer, a profession of political history at Princeton University.
He says that even without the cheering and pageantry, the DNC – and the Republican National Convention – will still hold value in 2020.
“They’re also just an opportunity for parties to show what they’re about,” he explains.
Zelizer says in recent cycles, the event has moved to being more virtually anyway.
Former CBS New White House correspondent Peter Maer, who has covered the conventions since the 1980s, explains this year's digital-only event will still be interesting to follow.
He says while some meetings will be happening in Milwaukee, speakers will be in their homes, which will be a sight not seen before.
“This is going to be, what the Democrats hope will be, a video and audio extravaganza as they switch all over the country to various speakers,” he explains.
Among the top speakers for Monday is former First Lady Michele Obama, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
While Cuomo and Whitmer will be among the most-watched due to their handling of the coronavirus, which has been praised by Democrats across the country, Maer says another interesting speaker to watch is actually a Republican.
“Someone that I will be looking forward to hearing is former Ohio Republican, I underscore Republican, Gov. John Kasich,” Maer said.
However, he says many of the speeches will be a lot shorter than viewers are used to – some of them will only have a minute to speak.
“Because it's going to be virtual this time you know both parties are going to have far more control on how long people speak,” Maer explains.
He jokes with WCBS 880’s Steve Scott that there will not likely be a repeat of the 1996 DNC in which Al Gore did the “Macarena” on stage.