Friday Spark Stage Highlights

The Spark Stage featured an array of quick speeches from individuals involved in politics. Spark panelists were diverse in age, ethnicity, and political leaning.

Zoe Reiter of Transparency International gave a global perspective on the scale of corruption. She defined corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain,” and clarified that it often goes beyond bribery and kickbacks – items she dubbed “your grandfather’s corruption.”

Next, Shaneice Simmons of Rock the Vote detailed the unique political position of millenials as America’s most diverse generation – and an powerful, emerging electoral block. She implored young people to “vote like their lives depended on it.” As things stand, she said, “we’re inheriting a world that doesn’t represent our values.”

Sarah Bonk of Disrupt DC offered a rare business perspective in the debate about political corruption. Having worked at a large corporation herself, she explained to the audience that business interests often align well with the public interest. It’s important, she said, to understand that corruption is a two-way street often, providing historical examples of bribe-seeking politicians extorting businesses.

Finally, John Pudner of Take Back Our Republic told the audience about the importance of demonstrating victories in this movement. The challenge, he said, is no longer getting people to understand that the system is rigged: “Everyone’s fed up. They just don’t believe there’s a way to win.” The new challenge to confront, he implored the audience, is to convince them the reform movement can win.