Or, a Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum . . .
If you go to the Politicon website (www.politicon.com) and click on the “About” link you won’t find much of a description and here is why. . . After attending my third Politicon, I can state that the event is pretty much what you make it versus any description I have heard in the past. Before I begin describing this year’s experience, let me first talk about what it is not.
It was not about coming to get informed about current events as most of the panels, and certainly the larger draws, were composed of corporate media talking heads who simply spewed their malarkey on a different day at a different venue. For instance, you would think with panels like “Democrats What Now?,” Republicans What Now?,” “Trump Genius or Lunatic,” the best minds in the country would gather and give us a nugget or two of information that would enlighten us and bring us to a deeper understanding of the reality of our current situation. But no!
So why invest in a ticket or in our case this year, airfare and booth space? There are a few reasons. One, it’s a lot of fun! Whatever it was that fueled the ancient Romans’ love of the Circus Maximus continues to manifest as evidenced by standing room only crowds that attended debates between the likes of Ana Kasparian vs. Ann Coulter or Cenk Uyger vs. Ben Shapiro. This why I have often described Politicon figuratively by saying it is a lot like mixing nitro with glycerin and then shaking it.
With the audiences as enthusiastic as they turned out to be, there were times when the debates looked more like a brawl at the coliseum of old, rather than discourse at the forum. Those in search of only cold hard facts may have left disappointed. But those looking high firing synaptic repartee were given lots to shout about.
It is all too likely that if you didn’t agree with Ann Coulter in the first place, you would not have left agreeing with her. Politicon is to an extent elaborate theatre, where the audiences are appealed to by somewhat fantastical characters, instead of a discourse on policy.
Another reason is it is still a good way to interact with other audience goers who would rather discuss politics than the latest episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Politicon as an event attracts folk from every part of the political spectrum; Red hat wearing “Make America Great Again” Trumpists coexist peacefully with those that would see him impeached. Yes, discourse can get heated, but thankfully no one seemed to be out for blood.
Several attendees who casually stopped by our booth impressed us so much we asked them to sit and talk to us. I learned a lot from them and I believe you will as well.
This year CFPUP not only filmed the panel discussions, we conducted on the street impromptu interviews with attendees. In some cases we simply walked up to people standing in line and asked them questions and in other cases, we asked people to join us in our booth for an in depth interview.
As for me the most salient event at Politicon 2017 was in fact a nonevent. Jake Tapper, CNN, hosted an event on the stage in Democracy Village and pulled less than 100 people and this was with food being offered. It very well may have been the most poorly attended event of the day. Contrast that to folks like Cenk Ugyer, Ann Coulter and Tomi Lahren who drew huge crowds on both days of the event. The debate between Shapiro and Uyger drew 3,000 people. They had to change venues to handle the over capacity crowd.
What this tells me is some retooling is in order for next year. 10,000 people attended Politicon 2017. Given who and what draws crowds, it would be a good idea to invite alternative media folks who have become successful on sites like YouTube. This is important because many of what I would call the “doubling down on bad ideas” views expressed by the “apparatchik” panelists failed to resonate with the crowds – regardless of their political persuasion.
Imagine if you had Medea Benjamin and/or Paul Craig Roberts as part of a panel discussing US foreign policy. Or Debbie Lusignan and Catherine Austin Fitts discussing domestic priorities on a panel hosted by Lauren Steiner. Bring in thought leaders like these and Politicon 2018 will need a much bigger venue!
I have embedded links to videos shot during Politicon above and you can find more by going to the CFPUP YouTube page. We will also be adding more in the coming days as we sort through last week’s footage.
In closing, I would like to thank Steve Lamb, Michael Bratowski, Kathleen Wells, Alex Hagen-Frederiksen, Warren Yeager, and “Citizen Jeff” Norman for helping make this year’s Politicon a big success for CFPUP.
P.S. Below are direct links to videos that are examples of in depth interviews taken at the CFPUP booth, panel discussions and debates, and impromptu interviews with attendees.
Dr. Medina explained to us the challenge he is having getting into a residency program in an era when there are more graduates than residency programs.
The climax of this weekend’s 2017 Politicon came with the debate between Cenk Uygur and Ben Shapiro.
Jeff Norman set off in search of interesting people to speak to at this year’s Politicon. Liberty, a Libertarian (Yep, that is her real name.) engaged and entertained as she opined on current events and politics.