Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – host Leahy welcomed Simon Sidi c0-founder of Politicon. The men discussed Politicon’s 5th annual event which will be coming to Nashville Music City Center on October 26th and 27th of this year. This will be the first time the event has deviated from the West coast.
Sidi discussed how Politicon was designed to be a place for political nerds to come together and better understand one another’s different political views. Sidi described the event by stating, “We’re like Comic-con. We treat conservatives like Star Wars fans and liberals like Star Trek fans.”
Leahy: We are joined on the line by Simon Sidi the co-founder of Politicon which is coming to Nashville October 26th and 27th and I’m going to be there interviewing a variety of the superstars of the political left and right. Simon welcome to the Tennessee Star Report.
Sidi: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
Leahy: When I was a kid we benefited from the British Invasion. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones came in. I guess you’re part of that Simon. At least that legacy. You’re originally from Britain and you got your start in rock music. Is that right?
Sidi: That is 100% correct yes. I’m bringing back an attitude to American politics. I’m trying to bring everybody together to have a great time in Nashville.
Leahy: What a great idea you had. Taking your skills from promoting rock concerts. And now you’re promoting these political events. I think it’s going to be spectacular. You’ve had folks like James Carville and Sarah Palin have been on. Folks like that. Ann Coulter, one of my favorites. Who’s going to be headlining here in Nashville that I’ll get a chance to interview this October?
Sidi: Well, James Carville and Ann Coulter come back year after year. This is our fifth year. And they come every year so we’re really pleased that they’re coming back again. But this year among the headliners we Al Franken who’s going to come and do his one-man show. Sean Hannity is going to come and he’s going to do a Counterpoint with James Carville. That will be really great. James Comey is he’s going to come and talk to us.
Leahy: Whoah. James Comey? (Inaudible chatter) One step ahead of the folks that want to put him in jail.
Sidi: (Laughs) Well you know we’ve got to talk about all of this. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is going to be there.
Leahy: Oh she’s great.
Sidi: Jordan Peterson is coming. We even have Randy Rayburn. You talked about being British. We actually have Britain’s, John Stewart. He’s going to come. (Inaudible talk) he is going to come and try and explain Brexit to everybody. I don’t think he’ll do very well by any standard. (Leahy laughs) That’s what Politican’s all about.
It’s panels. It’s debates. It’s keynotes and it’s comedy and it’s entertainment at a big expo. You guys are going to be there and it’s just going to be a lot of fun. We try and bring people together to enjoy themselves. So we mix it up. And we try to keep it light. But we do serious things and we do funny things and we hope everybody enjoys themselves.
Leahy: You had this previously in Los Angeles and a couple of other places. This time the 5th annual event. This is the first time it will be in Nashville at the Music City Center. How did you pick Nashville?
Sidi: Well we were looking to take it into the heart of the country. We have been on the West coast for four years and we really wanted to bring it into the heart of the county. We looked at a few places.
But we looked at Nashville because it’s a liberal arts city in a very conservative state. It seemed the perfect place. It’s a growing city. They say 100 people a month are moving from Los Angeles to Nashville.
Leahy: Yeah, and we’re not so sure we like that frankly. (Laughter)
Sidi: But you’re growing and you’re vibrant and it’s one of the best cities. We’ve been coming down there now checking it out for a few months. And every time we come we have a great time. So we’re really excited.
Leahy: Have you spent any time in Nashville yourself before deciding to come here in your music career?
Sidi: Many times. Many times. I’ve done the Ryman Theatre a lot. (Laughs) Nashville was not a surprise to me. I’ve been there many many times so I wasn’t surprised. It was an obvious place for us and we’re really excited. What’s really interesting is that we do a pre-sale of tickets and we know that we’re selling tickets in 25 states across the country. So for us, that’s brand new. We’re really excited. We’re bringing people from all over the country to Nashville for this.
Leahy: If people want to buy tickets go to www.politicon.com. How much are tickets?
Sidi: They’re pretty reasonable. I think they’re something like $45.00 dollars for the day.
Leahy: That’s not bad.
Sidi: We also do a special student and military discount. So if you have a student ID or military ID then you’ll get a discount.
Leahy: Nashville is the Athens of the South here. We have Vanderbilt and Lipscomb and Tennessee State University and Trevecca. And then Middle Tennessee State University in nearby Murfreesboro. Austin Peavy up in Clarksville. Lots of college students around here. And I think you’ll get a lot of them interested in this event. I’m looking forward to it.
There are people that I will interview there that would never come on my show. James Comey would be one who’d never. He would run to the hills before coming on our show. (Sidi laughs) I have a number of questions for him. I think I’ll be asking him what size jail cell do you prefer sir. I don’t know if he’ll answer that one. What do you think?
Sidi: I don’t know about that. (Leahy laughs) But you know he knows what Politicon is. He’s keen to come. We get a real mix of people coming. I’ve noticed in the past you look out at the audience and you’ll have two guys wearing a MAGA hat next to two women wearing I’m With Her t-shirts and they’re chatting away and laughing and having fun and talking. I think it’s the only place where you can go where this happens.
Leahy: I think that’s a good point. People are so tired, Simon, of this nastiness between folks on the left and right. They want to have some fun. So far no fights have broken out yet?
Sidi: Oh god no. We never get that. This is a place for political nerds and people love it. A couple of years ago we had Sarah Palin and she came and did a thing with James Carville and afterward she did a signing where you can get a selfie or an autograph. And the line was out the door as you can imagine. But they were all liberals. Everybody. (Leahy laughs)
This is a place where you can see your heroes and your villains. Get a selfie and meet them and talk to them. And listen to them. And listen to them interact. We always put opposites together. We’re able to have Tommy Lauren in debate Anna Kasparian. Charlie Kirk against Carl Kalinsky. Jesse Lee Peterson against David Pakman. These are people that are vehemently opposed to each other.
But they come to Politicon and they sit down with each other and they hash it out. All sides need to understand what’s going on in this country. And we try and do that. But we try and do it in an entertaining way. People need to enjoy themselves. Any tension that is there is soon dissipated.
Leahy: It’s sort of like wrestling smackdowns. A little bit like that. (Sidi chuckles) Kind of fun like that and entertaining.
Sidi: We’re like Comic-con. We treat conservatives like Star Wars fans and liberals like Star Trek fans.
Leahy: That’s actually quite profound. I’ve had a lot of people talk about this. You’ve heard this before right? That Star Trek is sort of a socialist status view of the world and Star Wars is more a free marketplace view. I’ve heard many people say that.
Sidi: That’s right. That’s why we use that analogy. We don’t expect people to sing Kumbayah at the end of the day.
Listen to the full hour:
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