I attended my first Politicon Convention this past weekend. The first convention was held in 2015, an “unconventional convention” which sought to bring people from all political parties into one place to exchange ideas and learn from each other. Some organizers of the event informed us that a paltry 100+ had signed up the first year. This year, 10,000 people signed up and overwhelmed the convention floor as well as the seminars and panels. From Ann Coulter to Ben Shapiro, from Chelsea Handler to Cenk Ugyur, Politicon was popping with excitement. The whole event revealed a big window into the role politics are playing in our culture, in our daily lives, even in California.
Initially, I was attending this year’s convention on assignment for my volunteer club the Beach Cities Republicans. Our club is thriving, and Politicon was interested in having our club host a booth on the convention floor. Since we missed the deadline for Politcon 2017, our board decided it would be worth our while to attend for one year, then consider participating more heavily next time.
The first thing I noticed at this year’s Politicon? The large number of young people, but also a welcome smattering of older politicos, too. For second-timers or frequent attendees, the increased presence of MAGA, hats and Trump supporters in general, surprised them. In fact, participants in last year’s Politicon informed me that almost no Trump supporters had attended, since they feared that Turmp would lose.
And the rest is history, of course. The increased, unprecedented investment in politics is relieving and somewhat enervating, too. We have Trump to thank for that, of course. Republicans in general, conservatives and Trump supporters in particular, are jumping into the culture wars fray harder than ever, and that’s good for our country.
What I saw, what I learned, trumped many pre-conceived notions, some for the better, and some for deeper consideration. The first forum I attended, Trump vs. The Media, provided a window into the wider implications of this convention and what I needed to learn. The moderator was a liberal Democrat from Kentucky, and to her left sat a pro-transgender activist. William Kristol, the editor for The Weekly Standard, joined the panel along with an MSNBC reporter, and finally one of the managers for Ted Cruz’ Presidential campaign.
Just as I sat down, another member of the audience walked past me, furious with how biased the panel had turned out to be. The Cruz campaign manager actually criticized the President’s recent transgender ban. I thought that “Love Trumps Hate”, but the guest speakers across the board were hostile to the Trump Administration. Kristol still reveled in his #NeverTrump stance. Finally, the panel took questions from the audience. Just when I thought I was going to speak, the moderator skipped over me to a line behind me. Immediately, I took to the microphone and called out the blatant anti-Trump bias of the panel. Many people cheered in the audience, then the forum closed for lack of time. It was a radical moment for me, and for all of us Trump supporters who were following the President’s example. Instead of tolerating the bias of the liberal media and Establishment Republicans.
I attended anther discussion called “Trump, Tear Down This Wall”, which featured The South LA Tea Party leader Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson swashing and buckling against four open-border advocates. Not exactly a fair fight. What he lacked in numbers, he made up for in tenacity and accuracy. His chief political rival in that forum, Congressman Lyin’ Ted Lieu—full disclosure, my Congressman—resorted to the same bigoted talking points. He even attacked Reverend Jesse, slandering his viewpoints as “lies.” Peterson didn’t let the Congressman get away with those cheap shots: “He just attacked me! He attacked me!” Afterwards, though, the good Reverend started turning over chairs, figuratively speaking, and let everyone hear the facts, no matter how politically incorrect they may have been. Of course, Trump supporters in the audience helped out our one spokesman on the dais. I had lots of fun shouting “Lyin’ Ted! Lyin’ Ted!” As soon as I had entered the room, I saw Lieu’s smug smile turn into a grim frown as he sweated from his brow.
This distinct bias of one conservative versus two or three liberals was all too common at Politicon. Sure, many panels had Republicans, but aside from Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, they were NeverTrumpers, or refused to acknowledge their vote for the President. What kind of political convention is this? Granted, more Democrats, liberals, progressives are going to attend these kinds of extensive get-togethers than Republicans. Why? Liberals by and large see politics, government, state intervention as a way of life, if not life itself. Interestingly enough, I attended another panel called “What Now, Democrats?” I liked that one, but for a different set of reasons compared to many in the room. The rancor among the attending Bernie-crats remains as palpable as ever over the DNC’s cheating to help Crooked Hillary win. I just rubbed salt in the wound as I shouted “Bernie Got Robbed!” Too much fun!
Despite the distinct structuring of the event, Trump supporters of all backgrounds were not afraid to call out the left-wing talking points and liberal panelists from forum to forum. Some leading conservative lights like Charles Kirk (see above) and Ben Shapiro soaked up the spotlight. Shapiro even handed The Young Turks leader Cenk Uygur another humiliating defeat!
Politicon 2017 was a worthwhile event. Conservatives, both speakers and attendees, should take on opportunities like these conventions to get our point of view across and force more people, young and old, to think conservative. In fact, one of the most inspiring series of moments at the convention was that not only were there so many young people, but they had been “red pilled”, sharing their gratitude with key conservative speakers at the event.
There is hope for the next generation and for our culture. I look forward to the next convention.