Mayor de Blasio wants to bring the Democratic National Convention to his home borough of Brooklyn. It would be a first for the borough, and why not? With the opening of the Barclays Center, Brooklyn has the facilities—and, thanks to Mr. de Blasio, the profile—to add a little vitality and maybe even some hipster cred to an otherwise dull political ritual.
National political conventions obviously aren’t what they used to be, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. When the Democrats met in Madison Square Garden in 1924 with local pols hoping to nominate a hometown hero, Al Smith, as their candidate, it took two weeks and 103 ballots before the exhausted delegates settled on a compromise and got out of town. New York was happy to see them leave. It was a mess.
The city has hosted four conventions in the relatively recent past—the Democrats came in 1976 and 1980 to nominate Jimmy Carter and again in 1992 to nominate Bill Clinton. The Republicans convened here for the first time in 2004 to renominate George W. Bush. None of these gatherings was particularly dramatic, but they showed the city in a positive light and brought in much-needed revenue.
The 2016 event figures to be dull and entirely stage-managed, as all conventions are these days. But it may also be historic. If Hillary Clinton decides to run for president, she surely will be the nominee. What better place than New York for the first woman presidential nominee to deliver her acceptance speech? (And bear in mind, of course, that New York is her home state—sort of.)
Holding the convention in Brooklyn is not without risk. Bored reporters—and there will be more of them than there are delegates—may be inspired to dig up unkind stories about life in the housing projects within walking distance of the glittering convention center. A tale of two cities, anyone? And if the lack of borough hotel rooms persists, it might shine a light on State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s strange and personal crusade against Airbnb—assuming the AG and his crusade are still in business in 2016.
Still, the potential rewards outweigh the risks. Brooklyn’s economic revival and its important place in the city’s cultural and civic life make it a perfect site for the party’s convention. The city’s power brokers should get behind the mayor’s bid.