Politicon took over the Music City Center in Nashville last week featuring names big and small in both the political and political pundit worlds where at the end I (unfortunately) was left with less faith in the system and less hope for the future.
The variety of stages held debates and discussions by the likes of former FBI Director James Comey, Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Press Secretary Briahna Joy Gray and political commentators such as Sean Hannity, Charlie Kirk, Ana Kasparian, Tomi Lahren, Kyle Kulinski and Jesse Lee Peterson.
This was the political convention’s first appearance outside of California in its five years and appeared to have a smaller turnout than expected with plenty of open seats for many of the discussions that hit on hot button topics such as Russian election interference, racism in America, Medicare for All and, maybe most importantly, how to get along within our political turmoil.
While official attendance numbers have not been released, it’s safe to say that many of the political junkies in attendance saw the Music City’s first year hosting the convention as a success, especially as many attendees made their way in from across the country to watch the political sparing matches during the day and indulging in neon-lit evenings on Broadway.
Many discussions, at one point or another, touched on the need for Americans to come together across political divides and work together for a better future, something that seems more and more unrealistic as impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump continue to heat up along with protests from incumbent Republicans in Washington determined to go down with the President having already sunk the Republican Party.
And while many serious issues were discussed in the halls and stages of Politicon, including those extremely important discussions around civility and moving forward, how effective are any of the messages when they are mainly heard by the political junkies willing to dish out $80 for a weekend ticket?
Sure, anyone with an internet connection can find video of the debates and panel discussions. But how many of those who need to hear the real conversations will watch a one-hour video versus the 10-minute rants regularly posted by opposing political commentators, many of which include enough bashing of the other side to make a viewer want to stop following politics entirely?
It was also poignant that the convention came on the heels of former CIA Analyst and whistleblower Edward Snowden’s latest interview, a nearly three hour longform discussion on one of the most popular podcasts, The Joe Rogan Experience. Snowden, who in 2013 leaked classified NSA information on unconstitutional mass surveillance of the American people, got deeper into his assertion that the government has become untethered from the idea of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
A lot has been written about Politicon’s mixing of politics, culture, entertainment in the melting pot of the greater American culture. But it's not not really Politicon’s problem or responsibility to separate or hold up American politics above the absurdity of 24-hour cable news or the often disconnected realities of party lines and agendas — it’s simply a reflection of what we are and apparently what we like about American politics.
People love to dress up like founding fathers, suffragettes, Bernie bros or MAGA mega-fans at Politicon just as much as Antifa like to dress up in black designer jeans or wannabe militia men like to dress up in military surplus gear in streets across the country.
At this point it feels like it's all a show and, unfortunately for the majority of Americans caught in the middle, it’s even more evident that politics, at least on a national level, more than ever feels like nothing more than a con.