Two American bubbles

We all live in a bubble. For some, that bubble is large and diverse, while for others it’s rather small. There is nothing wrong with being content in your bubble, but it is important to attempt to broaden your sphere to better understand the world around you.

The two national party conventions reflect the two American bubbles: One party desperately wants the other to understand why its bubble is so great, while the other party wants its bubble to engulf the entire planet.

I freely admit that I do not understand the Republican bubble. Still, as I watched the Republican National Convention (and Donald Trump’s campaign), I cannot understand the world they are living in. It is a fantasyland, where nothing in the past was wrong, where nothing in the present is right and where you claim to love America but can’t stand Americans. It reminds me of my favorite line from the movie, “American President” — “How do you have patience for people who claim they love America but clearly can’t stand Americans?”

The 2016 Republican platform is a combination of selective, revisionist history and illusions of faux problems. The Republican bubble is a place where toothpaste can be squeezed back into the tube — where you can turn back the hands of progress.

Take for instance, the Preamble of their platform, which says, “Our standing in world affairs has declined significantly — our enemies no longer fear us and our friends no long trust us.” The premise that a positive standing in world affairs is predicated on our enemies fearing us demonstrates a self-aggrandized image and false sense of influence in an enormous, dynamic geopolitical world. It reflects a worldview relevant in the 1930s and ‘40s, not the 21st century. It neglects the pitfalls of our most recent effort to assert American dominance in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. It refuses to acknowledge that, just eight years ago, it was our friends who feared us, and Americans who didn’t trust America.

The Republican bubble is one where perceived “problems” don’t exist, or pale in comparison to the real issues facing our country and world.

The section, “The First Amendment: Religious Liberty,” begins by saying, “The Bill of Rights lists religious liberty, with its rights of conscience, as the first freedom to be protected.” First, religion is not under attack by anyone other than on Muslims by Trump. Not only is this a false premise, but that’s not what the First Amendment says. The First Amendment does protect religious liberties, but starts by saying: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Yes, you can practice your religion, but government is forbidden from establishing religion in America. 

The platform actually calls for public display of the Ten Commandments and for prayer in public schools. Again, these are (not) solutions to not-real problems. Rather, they are an expressed desire to rewind progress, an effort to make their bubble everyone else’s bubble.

The Republican platform says gays are a problem, and their newly-realized rights must be rolled-back into the closet. But treating LGBTQs differently is antithetical to the definition of “free society.” I don’t understand how Republicans don’t see that progress made for LGBTQ Americans is permanent progress.

In the Republican bubble, porn is a health crisis. According to the platform, “Pornography … has become a public health crisis that is destroying the lives of millions,” calling it a “public menace.” Maybe I am just stuck in my bubble, but guns are a public health crisis, not porn.

The platform reflects efforts by Republican legislatures nationwide to deter voter fraud. The problem is, voter fraud is not a problem. It exists only in their bubble of paranoia.

There are real points of concern and legitimate policy suggestions in the Republican platform. For instance, it calls for term limits for members of Congress and an audit of the Pentagon. But so much of their platform, convention and presidential nominee is predicated on false-premises and fails to see the world outside of their bubble.

As you watch the Democratic National Convention and hear that party’s platform, listen to its leaders and nominee, Hillary Clinton and make note of  the priorities. You can disagree about the solutions, but, with Democrats, at least you will be discussing real issues facing America and the world.