Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders take a beating at Politicon 2016

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson delivers keynote address at Politicon 2016.

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson delivers keynote address at Politicon 2016.

The second Politicon began yesterday in Pasadena, California and continues today. Politicon is billed as “an unconventional political convention” which brings together the most diverse array of political and entertainment figures this side of the White House Correspondents Dinner, including comedians Larry Wilmore and Lizz Winstead; U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California; political consultants James Carville and Paul Begala; conservative media figures Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck; Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson; former Mexican President Vicente Fox and many more. Perhaps the mere fact that this diverse group was featured at Politicon makes them all “establishment” in a way. If so, that might explain why, at yesterday’s event, criticism of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders was widespread.

The Republican criticism of Donald Trump at Politicon was quite striking. For example, during the “Deconstructing ’16” panel, GOP consultant Mike Murphy said that “I’m an anti-Trump Republican” and that, if the two presumptive presidential nominees were bottled water, Hillary Clinton would be Dasani Water, i.e., “mediocre” yet popular, but “Trump water will kill you.” Likewise, conservative commentator S.E. Cupp said that “Trump doesn’t represent my party at all,” “I’m not going to vote for Donald Trump,” and that the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month “is going to be a sh*t show.” These remarks came on the heels of longtime conservative columnist George Will‘s announcement that he is leaving the Republican Party due to Donald Trump, along with Will’s advice to Republicans to “make sure he [Trump] loses.”

In the case of Bernie Sanders, the criticism was milder in tone, but still pointed in substance. For instance, on one panel, liberal political activist Van Jones said that Sanders, especially early on, talked too much about “Wall Street” and failed to adequately address racial issues. During the “Bernie Panel” discussion, Democratic strategist Bill Burton complimented Sanders for raising important issues during the Democratic Party primaries, especially the idea that our political system is “broken.” However, Burton said that Hillary Clinton simply had broader Democratic support. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson said that Sanders had “no way to follow through” on his campaign promises. Likewise, Paul Begala said that, while Democrats listened to and absorbed Sanders’ issues during the primaries, Sanders had limited support and lost by approximately 55-45 to Clinton. When a crowd of very rude Sanders supporters in the audience began booing, interrupting the panelists and even standing up to yell outbursts, comedian Hal Sparks had some tougher love for them, saying they shouldn’t be “booing numbers” and “don’t be disenfranchised occupiers who never get anything on the board.”

To be sure, both Sanders and Trump had their supporters at Politicon. In addition to the many vocal Sanders supporters in the audience, a number of them wearing “Bernie” t-shirts and buttons, there was at least one young man in a suit and tie wearing a red Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” cap. Likewise, panelists such as liberal Ana Kasparian of “The Young Turks” and conservative author/provocateur Ann Coulter advocated for Sanders and Trump, respectively. Moreover, a number of panelists were surprised and impressed with Sanders’ and Trump’s successes, albeit accomplished in different ways. Nevertheless, the tough words for Sanders and Trump from many others at Politicon, though largely different in tone, may be the closest thing to agreement across the political spectrum that one gets in America nowadays.

Photo by Messaging Matters. All rights reserved.


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