Politicon 2018 convened this weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center, featuring commentators from all ends of the political spectrum. Young Not Stupid got press access to the second day of the event, featuring Ben Shapiro, Tomi Lahren and Cenk Uygur.
For me, the morning began with walking the convention floor, nicknamed ‘Democracy Village.’ I was greeted by a deflated Baby Trump balloon taking a nap and MSNBC serving coffee, as a play on words for Joe Scarborough’s “Morning Joe” talk show. Perhaps my favorite part of Democracy Village were the booths featuring board games like ‘The Contender’, a ‘Cards Against Humanity’ style game where the goal is to win a random debate by using comedic statements inspired by real politicians.
Shortly after, I went over to the Civic Hall to get an early spot for Ben Shapiro’s keynote speech, which was definitely worthwhile. He began his speech by pointing out that there is an “intersectional hierarchy” in this nation created by Liberals, and he believes that white people are at the bottom of it. He went onto to say that the rights of the general populous of America is under attack, however, we cannot go towards more government control. He recognizes that “the US constitution is based in negative right,” assuring that each citizen is in control of their own destiny. Unlike Nordic socialist countries, Shapiro understands that our nation is of a different social fabric and that it began under much different circumstances. America was escaping a tyrannical king, who was ignoring the people in the 13 colonies, and the constitution was created in order to prevent this from happening with America’s own government. This becomes clear with Shapiro’s interesting take on the recent push for gun control, citing that if the left views President Donald Trump as a “dictator” like Hitler or Stalin, then why do they want the government that they view as dangerous to take their “guns away”, if Trump ever became a fascist leader. Although I personally disagree with an unregulated Second Amendment, this does pose an interesting idea to those who want the amendment removed from the constitution entirely.
In the later half of his speech, Shapiro took questions from the audience. Quickly, a line of almost all young men formed behind the provided microphone. One person in particular caught my attention; It was a rather young Hispanic man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, asking Shapiro why there is no conservative media in Spanish. Shapiro jokes about how he’s failed at learning Spanish several times before, but tells the man, “Conservatism is not limited to one language.” The man gladly accepts this response, and he asks Shapiro if he can take his printed resume so they can work together to start an outlet. He drops his resume off on the stage, only to be quickly snatched up by security guards. I am curious to see whether there will be a Spanish outlet in the works from him and Shapiro in the future.
After briefly stopping by an interview with Kevin de Leon, I decided to head over to Procon.org panel, which was focused on having better political discussion. This was probably one of my favorite panels, and it was for sure the most underrated one there. Panelist Celeste Headlee gave a more human approach to having productive conversation, despite believing that “You do not change minds over the course of a conversation.” The panel also included Former Representatives Patrick Murphy and David Jolly, who now tour the country talking about their effort of bipartisanship.
Next up was a town hall style event featuring Tomi Lahren, hosted by Clay Aiken. Lahren, wearing a dress which had the word ‘unconventional’ written all over it, talked with the former ‘American Idol’ contestant about everything from immigration to Kanye West. On immigration, she says she wishes that the current administration “would focus on things like building the wall,” instead of the political circus that is surrounding the White House at the moment. Lahren also commented that many politicians are trying too hard to be a celebrity and get attention like Donald Trump. Aiken, a Liberal, was a great interviewer. While maintaining an engaging personality that warmed up the crowd, he stayed on topic and was respectful, even when he disagreed with Lahren. Lahren’s most compelling point was her message to fellow young people; “If all your friends think the same, then they are not challenging you.” I believe this to be a fantastic piece of advice. If we become too wrapped up in a world of our own opinions, then we will never have a good understanding of different perspectives.
I ended the day with the main event of the night: Tucker Carlson in conversation with Cenk Uygur. The talk was focused on immigration and the migrant caravan headed towards the United States from South America, and it was surprisingly civil. Uygur, who founded the popular news site ‘The Young Turks’ believes that, if “[these migrants] wanted to sneak into the country, they wouldn’t be doing it in a big caravan.” However, Carlson took a different approach. He asked the audience, “Do you as a US citizen have any voice as to who comes in?” and compares immigration to inviting people over to a dinner party. He says that he would not want people coming to his dinner party if he has never met them. Although Cenk Uygur urges people to “Hear [the migrants] out,” Tucker Carlson was sure that that these people would have a hard time adapting to America. His perspective centers around the following: “The idea of multiculturalism is insane… as an organizing principle of a country, you need a common culture,” like language. The debate was overall extremely productive and gave everyone in the room an in-depth look at the topic of immigration.
Politicon is a rare event that manages to bring politics out of Washington and into another part of the country that is not as close to the action. It has changed the way I think about many issues, and it has also challenged me to think deeper as a citizen of this great country.