America needs Politicon, mainly because we’ve forgotten how to have fun in politics! This years Politicon convention in Pasadena, California brought thousands of political junkies together to celebrate and enjoy a fun weekend, and guess what? It actually worked! In the aftermath of the Donald’s election, many of us have been drawn to fringe elements of political groups, and contempt runs deeper today than any point in recent history. Politicon gave people a respite from the yelling we hear everyday. With speakers like Tomi Lahren, Chelsea Handler, Ben Shapiro, and even Cenk Uyguyr, everyone’s favorite star was there. Unfortunately, the mooch missed out on this wonderful conference because you know, life hits you fast. What did happen, though, was everyone from pussyhat knitters to Reagan fans came together at a conference to have fun, and advance a discussion to make America truly better. This alone is something truly unique in today’s political landscape.

The Debates

One thing you can count on at Politicon is that everyone’s got an opinion, and you won’t go far without hearing it. If intellectual diversity had a place, it would likely be at conventions like this one, especially when conservative exhibitors were placed right next to their left leaning counterparts. Beyond attendee discussions, the presentations and debates were well moderated and topic focused.

On Saturday, Ann Coulter faced off against The Young Turk’s Ana Kasparian in a colorful yet controlled discussion on America’s future. Unfortunately, the debate was overshadowed by individuals who decided it would be nice to dress like Nazis and attempt to censor Ann Coulter from speaking. Thankfully, these hecklers were escorted off the property, and disruptions remained minimal for the rest of the day. It should be noted that at any political convention, there is a chance someone will come in and try to cause a scene; fortunately for this year’s Politicon, this wasn’t frequent.

Sunday brought the heavy hitters, starting out with Tomi Lahren vs. Symone Sanders. As an attendee to this debate myself, I got the chance to live tweet, and it was an interesting exchange to say the least. As an observer, regardless of my conservative lean, I felt that Symone dominated the conversation and did a much better job communicating her points. Tomi lacked references at several points in the debate, and also said a few things that just seemed out of place. Below are some of my live tweets that I feel showed the best from the two commentators.

The Cenk vs Shapiro Debate

Probably the biggest draw was the sought after debate between conservative all-star Ben Shapiro, and progressive Cenk Uygur from The Young Turks. This was definitely the most attended event, so much so that staff at Politicon relocated it to the largest hall in the convention center. What made this debate the great was that Ben and Cenk talked about the issues, and while most in attendance (including myself) felt that Ben won by a landslide, the conversation was important. Moderator Steve Olikara pointed out the fact that both Ben and Cenk agreed that corruption in Washington is dividing our nation, and it’s something everyone should be paying attention to. Beyond the screams of “Ben for President!” and the boos for the so called ‘water-buffalo’,  these two politically opposite characters agreed that corruption is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Why We Need Politicon

No matter what political side you were on, everyone cheered when either of the two internet sensations emphasized the need to end corruption, and it’s for this reason that conventions like Politicon are so insightful and beneficial to our nation’s future. Political discussion should never be seen as contempt based fist-fights, but facts driven and issue focused conversations. A competition of ideas is what needs to be brought into the public square, and that’s exactly what this debate did. With all that being said, it was still exciting, and quite possibly the closest thing to the Super Bowl of politics you’ll see. It was amazing to see the excitement in the room as the audience intently watched Ben lay out the facts after Cenk told the audience to ‘Google it’. There was a competitive tone in the room, you could feel it, but the conversations were dense and didn’t consist of empty rhetoric. The conversations had substance, and most people agreed that even while being decimated, Cenk held his own, and did surprisingly well.

Censorship and coddling do nothing to support progress and growth as a nation. Students who attended this conference were forced to defend their beliefs, something that’s uncommon on college campuses where speech is controlled and regulated. Politicon embodied the first amendment, and ultimately showed, when given the chance to discuss America’s most pressing issues, freedom unifies us, and freedom gives us the strength to grow in our own thoughts and beliefs. Free speech isn’t ‘controversial’, it’s our right.  Let’s start defending it.