Welcome to Unrig Summit 2019, the premier conference to solve America’s political crisis with nationwide policy experts and hands-on training.
Choose a tab to explore highlights from the incredible Unrig Summit 2019.
Kicking Things Off on the Right Foot
Unrig Summit started with an incredibly inspiring opening plenary. Nashville’s Mayor David Briley and longtime Nashville public official Howard Gentry welcomed us all to Music City to kick off Unrig Summit 2019 in style.
We heard from Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution, Zoe Reiter of Transparency International, and Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI)—with a special live music performance of Jason Eskridge that blew us all away.
Afternoon Workshops and Panels
“The Polarization of our country is a national security concern. Ranked choice voting can counter that.” — Evan McMullin
“If you want to talk about power analysis, talk with poor people and people of color.” — Charly Cartera
CivicMaker’s Judi Brown energizing the room with Design Thinking for the Republic. VNP’s Katie Fahey agreed wholeheartedly with CivicMaker’s Judi Brown on the merits of Participatory Budgeting—those who have a stake in the budget need to be involved in the process of making it.
During the “Tipping Point for Voting Rights” session, Speaker Desmond Meade talks about cracking codes and creating a language that resonated with not just progressives to restore voting rights to over 1.4 million Floridians with felony convictions. Marcia Johnson-Blanco drew cheers from the crowd when she urges everyone to stop organizing solely around elections.
In one of the final panels of the day, “What’s Next For the Mueller Report?,” Caroline Fredrickson, President of the American Constitution Society and John Pudner, Executive Director of Take Back Our Republic, discussed the implications of the Mueller report. Moderated by Meredith McGehee, Executive Director, Issue One, she encouraged the panelists to share their insights about the report. John Pudner says he would “call this a vindication but not an exoneration,” to which Caroline respectfully disagreed about the nature of attorney-client privilege.
Dark Money Screening
Who just bought your Democracy? On Friday night, Unrig attendees attended a movie screening of the Dark Money Documentary.
Dark Money, a political thriller, examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials.
Following the screening, Director of the documentary Kimberly Reed was joined by Federal Election Commission Chair, Ellen Weintraub, and Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD) for a conversation about the legal corruption that plagues American elections.
If @_kimreed's incredible documentary, @DarkMoneyFilm, doesn't make you want to do what you can to help #UnrigTheSystem, we don't know what will. The screening was the perfect end to Day 1 of the #UnrigSummit. We're proud to be in this fight. pic.twitter.com/QzVu8KOjQW— Downticket (@downticketus) March 30, 2019
Day 2 of Unrig Summit in Nashville was packed. In the words of these attendees, it is like Democracy Camp with friends.
Celebrating A Record-Breaking Year of Grassroots Victories
Regie Gibson kicked off the morning with an incredible spoken word performance, followed by local and national leaders – worth watching!
Jennifer Lawrence surprised the Unrig team in the middle of a group selfie, before moderating “How They Won: Strategies from the 2018 Frontlines” with the leaders from winning 2018 campaigns. From restoring voting rights in Florida to passing an anti-corruption law in North Dakota, they shared stories from the campaigns that made 2018 a record-breaking year for the anti-corruption movement.
Skill Building to Win
In 2018 this movement passed more measures to unrig the system than ever before, breaking records and making history. Now, attendees are learning how to lead their own winning campaigns, from start to finish.
And yes, sometimes that means learning from the Badass Grandmas among us.
Over 100 people attended the “Ranked Choice Voting Masterclass”.
“The Future is On the Lines – Fighting Gerrymandering in the Lead-Up to 2021” covered the growing the effort to end gerrymandering, from a Facebook post that started a movement to two blockbuster Supreme Court cases, and how people can get involved in the solution.
“Forget the Supreme Court: How Leaders Like You Can Break Money’s Grip on Power” shined a light on how we can–and are–taking action right now to fix the system, even under the current Supreme Court.
.@FEC Chair @EllenLWeintraub reminds us: despite some damaging money-in-politics decisions, the Supreme Court has been overwhelmingly positive on the subject of disclosure and voters’ right to know who is trying to influence us #UnrigSummit pic.twitter.com/aN5sR7nKWI— Issue One (@IssueOneReform) March 30, 2019
In “Women Leading: Breaking Barriers to Equal Representation”, we learned how to overcome the obstacles women face when they go up against power, money, and a political structure that works against them.
Solutions Beyond Partisan Divides
Today we got to see what the media and mainstream politics completely ignores: the right and the left working together to fix the biggest problems facing this country. From criminal justice to climate change, we saw diverse panels exploring concrete solutions.
D.C. seems completely gridlocked on this issue, but in “Save Democracy, Save the Planet” we saw leaders on the left and right working to protect our planet from the outsized influence of the fossil fuel industry, and heard from Tea Party Movement Co-Founder Debbie Dooley.
“Bipartisan Solutions for Ending the Prison-Industrial Complex Once and For All” spoke of the exciting new bipartisan coalitions pushing back against the corruption and exploitation in the criminal justice system. Two particular reforms – overhauling our lobbying laws and changing how we choose state court judges – have major potential to unrig the criminal justice system.
Meanwhile, in “Overpriced and Overprescribed: Healthcare Costs in the Age of Big Money” we took a hard look at the way our corrupt political system has rigged our healthcare, with devastating results, and solutions that could bring down prices and save lives.
There were tons of other incredible sessions, and more to come tomorrow. Tonight, we’re excited for Unrigged Live!
Unrigged Live! was an inspiring night of live music, comedy, and exciting speeches.
Speakers like RepresentUs Director Josh Silver, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore, Activist Emma González, and voting rights leader Desmond Meade were punctuated with comedy by Sasheer Zamata and live music from some of Nashville’s great local bands.
2018 was an incredible year for grassroots victories, so this year’s Courage Awards went to representatives of the campaigns and organizations that made a big difference. Odessa Kelly, Katie Fahey, Dina Bitcher and Ellen Chaffee, and Desmond Meade accepted the Courage Awards for leading the charge and fighting for democracy.
The combination of live music, laughter, and passionate, aspirational speeches was electric. What a night!
The Final Session
The last and final day of Unrig Summit was a culmination of all the things that make this event so special: grassroots power, opportunities to learn and strengthen the movement, incredible speakers and some vibrant debates.
The last session kicked off with Howard Schultz, followed by Deray Mckesson, Kerry Healey, Mark McKinnon, and Renaldo Pearson. Watch the full video below!
The Unconference – Where You Decide
The Unconference is a pop-up summit where attendees decide what is on the agenda. This year’s topics reflect the diversity of this movement and the full spectrum of ideologies present at this summit. Topics ranged from “Will Your Vote Be Rigged?” to “Care for the Caravan” and “So You Want More Conservatives in Your Organization.”
In 2018 the anti-corruption movement celebrated more victories than ever before. As the summit comes to a close it’s time to look ahead. In “Unrigging Our Future: Millennial and Gen Z Activism” activists who are inheriting a broken system talked about how to clean up this mess, with some of the brightest young minds in the anti-corruption movement.
That session, along with another morning of skill building and networking, laid the groundwork for what comes next. The attendees from this summit are leaving today fully empowered to take on 2019 and 2020, and win another wave of grassroots victories to unrig the system.