A political debate between two of the nation’s strongest-minded women, each with polarizing political views, will unfold at this year’s Politicon, July 29-30 in Pasadena, California. For what reason? Entertainment, of course.
While we wish we could say the debate will be between politicians capable of enacting change in Washington D.C.—say Elizabeth Warren versus Nikki Haley—in a preview of 2020, we can’t. Instead, Chelsea Handler, whose Netflix show Chelsea has transitioned from celebrity snubfest to liberal talkshow post-Trump, will square off against former TheBlaze host and viral phenomenon Tomi Lahren at this year’s political convention. Despite its level of extra, the combustible debate will be a can’t-miss spectacle between two respected, big-time thought leaders on the right and left. The main difference between Handler and Lahren, of course, is that one is a trained comedian while the other is a trained talking head, respectively. Handler might have an edge with her ability to make people laugh via sarcasm, eye rolls and condescending quips, but Lahren lives and breathes politics and policy. If she spits her conservative spin anything like Kellyanne Conway, she could end up talking circles around Handler, who has never managed the same finesse in political arguments as her liberal comrades. Bill Maher, for example, debates right wingers like Lahren and Milo Yiannopoulos almost every week, as have Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart in their careers.
Last year, the stage was reserved for Ann Coulter and CNN’s Van Jones, the breakout star of last year’s election night coverage. The debate became such an unexpected pull that it had to be moved to a bigger room to accommodate the masses. There’s no doubt that Handler will pull big numbers at this year’s event, especially as one the of the defining voices of one of the world’s most influential networks. The pairing couldn’t be more appropriate for must-see viewing; Handler hates Trump as much as Lahren loves him, and neither are afraid to shout their beliefs on camera.
Since Trump took office, Handler has become an ardent opponent. She led the Women’s March at Sundance, simultaneously held with the Women’s March on Washington, to protest Trump’s inauguration. Before that, she posted a video burning Ann Coulter’s “piece of shit” book In Trump We Trust after Coulter cancelled an appearance on Chelsea’s show last-minute. The cancellation was no doubt a knee-jerk reaction to bombing on Comedy Central’s roast of Rob Lowe the evening prior, where Coulter was said to be “the worst Roaster since The Situation.”
After being fired from TheBlaze for suggesting that conservatives who oppose abortion are hypocrites, Lahren gave an exclusive interview to Playboy saying, “We can’t silence, diminish, and shame a strong female voice because she takes an opinion that maybe we don’t like—even if she stands for conservative values in every other way but this one issue.” Her position on abortion might turn out to be a point of agreement between her and Handler, who wrote in a Playboy essay on the necessity of Planned Parenthood, having had two abortions herself. Lahren has since accepted a position to work with Great America Alliance, a pro-Trump advocacy group. The upcoming face-off with Handler will be her biggest media appearance in months. Yesterday, Lahren let her fans know she was ready for the big event on Twitter.
Let’s do this. https://t.co/MYhdRXvaRq— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) July 5, 2017
This much is certain: while much of this debate reeks of showbiz gimmickry, we need to celebrate the fact that two strong, opinionated people from opposing sides are willing to participate in discourse about the state of American politics. Political polarization, echo chambers, social media trolling and turning the other side into a villainous “other” is only driving our country deeper into divisiveness and societal turmoil. If two people as headstrong as Handler and Lahren are willing to engage with each other, it should be a message to all of us that we need to, too.
The political convention will include another panel featuring Handler and CNN’s Jake Tapper, as part of the network’s popular “Politics on Tap” series. While Tapper’s panel will be engrossing, it won’t hold a candle to the Handler vs. Lahren event. Though the announcement was made just yesterday, the debate has already sent Twitter into a tizzy, with excitement and skepticism brewing from both sides.
Imagine being thirsty enough to “debate” a microwave defrosted Lean Cuisine lasagna https://t.co/52C8qRN9ch— Ira Madison III (@ira) July 6, 2017
1792: Hamilton vs. Jefferson— Ian Tuttle (@iptuttle) July 5, 2017
1858: Lincoln vs. Douglas
1960: Nixon vs. Kennedy
Toma Lahren vs. Chelsea Handler.— Jack Kemp (@9thHUDSec) July 5, 2017
The only loser is the audience https://t.co/hXv41AVLbd
This is wonderful. Absolutely fking glorious. I can’t wait. https://t.co/FQOWjqr6sB— Nay7cin (@OhOkayLetsGo) July 6, 2017
And then there are those who completely miss the point, like this guy, who turned a political debate between two smart, savvy women into a beauty contest.