Glimpsing the future of politics at Politicon Los Angeles

James Carville meets Trevor Noah at Politicon 2015

James Carville meets Trevor Noah at Politicon 2015

Los Angeles is one of the finalists to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, but L.A. had its own early Summer Olympics this this past Friday and Saturday, at the first L.A. Politicon convention. The stadium was the L.A. Convention Center, and the athletes were the stars of the political and entertainment worlds who joined together to demonstrate what has become obvious: that politics and entertainment have merged.

The lineup at Politicon reflected this merger between politics and entertainment, and included well-known figures from both worlds such as James Carville, new host of “The Daily Show” Trevor Noah, Cenk Uygur, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, Stephanie Miller, Toure, Alex Wagner, John Fugelsang, Michele Bachmann and Clay Aiken. Even Edward Snowden made an appearance via satellite from Russia. In keeping with the Politicon event, however, Snowden was interviewed by political satirists The Yes Men.

The Olympic athlete status of these stars soon became apparent. Like sprinters running on the track, these political professionals are very quick on their feet. Everyone sounded extremely knowledgeable and articulate. There were no method-acting mumblers to be heard. And, appropriately, the first L.A. Politicon was very professionally run, sparkly but not flashy. One might even say it was toned-down as far as L.A. entertainment events go.

The pedestrian side of things was represented in the Democracy Village room, with various organizations there, as well as live music, poetry and other performances. However, the star presence was felt there too, with booths ranging from Lady Parts Justice manned by “The Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead, to the Log Cabin Republicans manned by a life-size picture of Caitlyn Jenner. Likewise, Politicon’s large art gallery had lots of hard-hitting, satirical art by figures such as Shepard Fairey of Obama “HOPE” poster fame, and street artist Sabo.

As the crowds increased on Saturday, they grew sometimes raucous. At one standing room-only event featuring James Carville, Newt Gingrich and the mild-mannered David Axelrod, one older man sporting a Bernie Sanders t-shirt had several outbursts, including yelling that Gingrich was “not worthy” of mentioning Sanders by name. Who says Angelenos aren’t passionate about political issues?

One of the most entertaining panels was “The Devil’s Advocate” hosted by Sirius satellite radio host Rick Ungar. The panel featured conservative and liberal talk radio hosts who had to switch roles and advocate for the other side. Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, to his credit, stated the liberal positions on issues so convincingly that he might have been mistaken for a Republican Party defector. But liberal political comedians Stephanie Miller and John Fugelsang went with hilarious, over-the-top defenses of conservative policies. Miller said that she exercises “like a meth-crazed weasel,” so why should her tax dollars go to supporting the Affordable Care Act for others? Likewise, Fugelsang defended Donald Trump‘s immigration policies with an ingenious idea: in order to deport “the illegals,” we’ll first render them unconscious by having them listen to Dr. Ben Carson speak.

San Diego, you can keep your ComiCon. Los Angeles has Politicon, and we made it our own.

Photo by Marc Langsam, used under Creative Commons license.

4 Responses to Glimpsing the future of politics at Politicon Los Angeles
  1. Jonathan Matthews
    October 12, 2015 | 8:49 am

    If this is going to be an ongoing event, I’m going to figure out a way to attend. I cannot imagine watching Fugelsang defend Trump’s immigration agenda, even if it’s in jest — XD. Thanks for sharing this, Matt!

  2. Messaging Matters
    October 12, 2015 | 10:21 am

    @Jonathan, we have some of the audio of John Fugelsang at this Politicon panel, as well as great clips from Stephanie Miller, James Carville and others! Hopefully we’ll be able to play them on the “Turn Up the Night with Kenny Pick” show on Tuesday Oct. 20! Tune in!

  3. Rick Ungar
    October 12, 2015 | 5:43 pm

    Thanks for the very nice review of my panel. Much appreciated!

  4. Messaging Matters
    October 12, 2015 | 5:55 pm

    You’re welcome, Rick. It was a great panel!

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