Voices from the Democratic and Republican conventions

Monitor photographers asked attendees at the Republican and Democratic national conventions about their party's themes. 

Staff/The Christian Science Monitor
Scenes from the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Political slogans seem to say much – and nothing – at the same time.

That's why we had our photographers roam the convention floors in Cleveland and Philadelphia and ask participants about their views on the prominent themes.

Their methodology was simple, if hardly scientific: collect a diverse array of people (gender, race, age, etc.) who were willing to talk to them.

The goal was to illuminate some of the thinking behind the "bumper sticker" slogans. At the Republican National Convention, bouncing off Donald Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again," we asked attendees what a "great America" looked like to them. 

One of those who participated was Daniel Garza, executive director of the LIBRE Initiative. He said that "A great America is one that doesn't allow its elected officials to create a two-tiered society. A great American opens up opportunities for quality education and focuses policies on growing productivity in the private sector." 

For Democrats, while Sen. Bernie Sanders supporters clamored to be heard inside, and outside the hall, a theme of unity was prominent among speakers. We asked: "What would bring America together?"

"I would turn the question around and say what can we "do" to bring America together. It's an active pursuit. In particular, stop the act of looking for offense. Ditch the victim mentality and accept that politics and governing ourselves is messy, and it's supposed to be that way," said Jene Jackson, a delegate from Colorado Springs, Colo.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.