The fifth annual Politicon, which has been described as the “Comic-Con” of politics,” is set and ready to kick off this Saturday at the Nashville Music Center. Featuring guests such as former FBI Director James Comey, Conservative Political Commentator Sean Hannity, Former U.S. Sen. Al Franken, Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and dozens more, this will be the event’s first time being held outside of California.
“If you're a political nerd in any way, Politicon was built for you,” founder of the event Simon Sidi told the Williamson Home Page. “We built it because we don't come from the world of politics, we actually come from the world of entertainment. We didn't want to build something that was a bit stuffy, we wanted it to be for the people.”
While the event covers serious topics through its panels and discussions such as immigration and gun control, Sidi has taken a slightly different approach to shaping Politicon when compared to more standard political conventions.
“You can get the serious by the book approach [at] CPAC, Netroots Nation and some of those other things - we do serious stuff at Politicon, very serious stuff, but we like to entertain people as well, we want people to enjoy themselves,” Sidi said. “People are passionate about politics - very much so in this country. Everyone seems to be split into their own little bubbles, and if we can do one small thing to help break that apart, then we're doing okay.”
Despite being held in the mostly liberal city of Los Angeles, California, Sidi said past Politicons have been mostly evenly split between Republican and Democratic guests, a trend Sidi expects to continue with the event’s first appearance outside of the Golden State.
“The reason we went to Nashville was because we wanted to be in the heart of the country because we wanted people from all over the country to come,” Sidi said. “We also wanted to be in a city that had great demographics for us. We need people from all over the political spectrum to come to Politicon, and Nashville is a liberal arts city in a very conservative state, so for us it was perfect - and the food's good.”
While political views continue to divide Americans, with Political Analyst Bill Schneider arguing the United States to be at its most divided since the Civil War, Sidi said past Politicon events have seen staunch conservatives and die-hard liberals sit comfortably side by side, engaging in discussions amongst each other.
“It's the only place, really, that you can get people from all sides of the political spectrum in the same room,” Sidi said. “You look out at our audience, and you'll see guys wearing their MAGA (Make America Great Again) hats sat next to Bernie Bros, sat next to women wearing their Elizabeth Warren T-shirts, or an I'm With Her T-shirt. So it's a real mix, and we really get everybody in the room all mixed up together.”
Events and speaking panels are scheduled nonstop throughout the convention, including such highlights as a mock ‘Trump Vs. Bernie Debate’ featuring comedians Anthony Atamunuik and James Adomian, a ‘Medicare for All’ discussion panel, and a debate between Political Strategist Donna Brazile and former White House Chief of Staff Reince Preiebus.
“There are a couple that I'm particularly interested to see - I think the interview with James Comey will be fascinating,” Sidi said. “I'm looking forward to seeing the Trump and Bernie debate, I think that's fascinating - I'm told it's the real Trump and Bernie, but something tells me it's not really. James Carville on Saturday will be doing a head to head with Sean Hannity, so I think it's [overall] going to be amazing.”
The event will be held at Nashville Music Center Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. General admission for one day is $49, or $79 for both days. VIP tickets are $250 per day, or $350 for both days. For veterans and students, general admission is $29 for one day, or $49 for both days.
“Even though you can see these people on TV every night, this is the time where you [can] see them without any commercial breaks, you can see the whites of their eyes, and sometimes, they'll agree with each other - opposites sometimes agree with each other,” Sidi said. “And one thing they all agree with is this country is the most amazing country in the world because of the First Amendment, and you can say and do what you want. That's what Politicon is really all about.”