The Unconventional Convention
On October 25th, 2019, myself and many other College Republicans arrived in Nashville, Tennessee for a political convention unlike anything else in the political sphere. Politicon, aka The Unconventional Convention, was a two-day event that hosted some of the biggest names in politics, creating a fully-immersive, multi-partisan political experience.
This year was only the event's fifth tour and it was the first time it had come to Nashville. They released the 2019 lineup in early September, billing names like Al Franken, James Comey, Sean Hannity, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Clay Travis, James Carville, Ann Coulter, Ana Kasparian, Charlie Kirk, Kyle Kulinski, Tomi Lahren, Reince Priebus, Joe Walsh, and more, and, considering they offered high student discounts, this immediately became an opportunity too good to pass up.
After my local Jacksonville State College Republicans fundraised heavily for the trip, we packed our bags, grabbed our tickets, and headed north. Nashville was a fantastic city for the event, taking place in the gorgeous Music City Center downtown. It was my first time in the city and, to say the least, I was blown away.
Downtown was always alive with action, and Politicon was no exception to this trend. The venue offered five individual stages, an open event in the lobby, and a podcast booth, all offering different debates, interviews, entertainment, and panel discussions at all hours of the event. The lobby also featured commercial booths, interactive displays, action and organization groups, and political characters like the Statue of Liberty, Abraham Lincoln, Miss MAGA, and the party mascots. One of the most eye-catching displays was Baby Trump, the touring balloon making its way across America, positioned right at the entrance. Stand Together created an interactive door display, each which, when opened, told a different story of immigration. The event also had C-SPAN coverage, allowing attendees a peak inside the news van, a variety of photo booths, and a tasteful cardboard cutout of President Nixon.
Among the plethora of panels were "Point Counterpoint" with Sean Hannity and James Carville; "Ana Kasparian in Conversation with Tomi Lahren"; "KAG" with Ann Coulter, Elisha Krauss, Mayor Glenn Jacobs, Guy Benson, and Tomi Lahren; and the grand finale, "Charlie Kirk vs. Kyle Kulinski." While some panels were better than others, I learned something from all of them.
Politicon is not an nonpartisan event by any means, in fact, it's incredibly partisan, but that's exactly what makes an event like this so great. Politicon doesn't force you to leave your preferred party at the door, it invites it in then forces you to defend it. Politicon is made for politically-minded people to come together in celebration of our their views and stimulate interaction with those who possess different views. Politicon asks you to open to your mind, not change it, and for that, I can't wait for next year.