Later this month, politicians, politicos, journalists and others with gather in Nashville as Music City serves as a first-time host of Politicon.
Started in 2015, Politicon is an annual convention that hosts dozens of panel discussions on politics.
This year, which will feature discussions on everything from impeachment to guns, will see several big name speakers in attendance, including former U.S. Sen. Al Franken, former FBI director James Comey, former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
In the lead up to this month’s convention, Simon Sidi, the organization’s founder and head of Politicon, explained to Grand Divisions, the Tennessean’s politics and policy podcast, why the organization chose Nashville for its latest convention and what attendees can expect.
The first four years of Politicon were held in California, which Sidi said resulted in the gathering relying on attendees from the West Coast.
“We wanted to bring it to the heart of the country,” said Sidi, discussing the move to Music City. As a result, Sidi said tickets have been sold to attendees in 25 states and even some international sales.
Sidi touted the selection of Nashville as symbolic of the convention’s overall goal, given the city’s liberal leanings in a heavily Republican state.
“It’s a liberal arts city. You’re a very modern, forward-thinking city in a very conservative state,” he said. “For us, it’s perfect because we have all the demographics all in one place.”
POLITICON IN NASHVILLE: From Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Al Franken, Politicon brings eclectic group to Nashville
Discussing Politicon’s origins, Sidi said it was created out of a desire to have touring political debates. With a background in putting on live concerts, Sidi said, “We realized we’d never get the people we really wanted for long enough to do a tour.”
Eventually the idea morphed into having a once-a-year convention that brings together people all across the political spectrum.
Today, Politicon is often referred to as the Comic-Con of politics, a reference to the annual gathering of comic book fans that has a legion of followers.
Sidi said Politicon is unique because it lets attendees interact with speakers while creating a space to hear opposing views.
“There’s something for everybody,” he said.
In addition to nationally recognized speakers like Fox News host Sean Hannity, there’s a few with ties to Tennessee. Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs is appearing on a panel about Medicare for all and U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn will be a Sunday morning keynote speaker.
“If you’re a political nerd, you’re going to love Politicon,” he said.
The event will be Oct. 26-27 at Music City Center. Tickets start at $49.
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