PolitiCon Debute: New? Yes, Different? Not Really

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David Axelrod, Alex Castellanos, James Carville and Newt GingrichThe first annual “Comic-Con” of Politics has come and gone. For two days, the Los Angeles Convention Center was home to PolitiCon: the fun place to be for those who take themselves way too seriously. Cable news stars, internet pundits, former advisors to this one or that one, and anybody with a book to hawk was on hand for this inaugural event.

Highlights for me included posing with and getting a sound bite from the Young Turk himself, Cenk Uygur, running into (literally) The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper and after an awkward fan moment, asking him to comment for the camera, meeting Drexel Heard and walking out on Anne Coulter.

Jordan Klepper and Liz WinsteadIt was super cool talking to Liz Winstead, and I’ve never understood why I get a little weak in the knees when I’m around Carville. Well, there now, I’ve said it.

Headliner Trevor Noah’s stand-up was electric, and not to overstate it, but something about his appearance felt historic.

Also noteworthy was my brief discussion with Republican strategist Alex Castellanos. He had just shared the stage with Axlerod, Carville and Gingrich. Listening to this esteemed panel discuss the 2016 election, you would never have guessed that the electorate was anything other than Ds and Rs, down to the last man, woman and child.

It was pretty ridiculous, actually. So when I had the chance to talk to Castellanos, I reminded him that most Americans don’t vote. He nodded. When I asked him why he thought that might be, he took a beat, looked properly thoughtful, then answered. According to Alex, most non-voters are just happy with the way things are. Therefore, they have no reason to vote.

Astounded, I pushed back. “That’s really what you think?” I asked. He nodded, smiled and excused himself.

So there you have it. Or not.

And Castellanos wasn’t the only one ignoring reality. While PolitiCon organizers tried hard to communicate a cutting edge vibe, I found nothing even closely resembling an independent spirt. Nope, it was all about the Red and the Blue. At least for this year, PolitiCon seems unwilling to venture outside of the two-party system. Considering that roughly 40% of voters identify as Independents, this allegiance to the duopoly seems like a real shame, a missed opportunity, and certainly no laughing matter.