Unrigging the System: One Conversation at a Time

A Recap of the Unrig the System Summit

I had the pleasure of attending the Unrig the System Summit in New Orleans this past weekend. The summit was an eclectic group of political organizations from all over the nation uniting to discuss one similar goal—how do we unrig politics in America?

All Smiles from Us in NOLA!


We heard from a slew of media organizations, including voters’ rights organizations, partisan and non-partisan groups, and a host of many others. For SAM, it was a spectacular opportunity to learn from, and connect with, other organizations who are trying to accomplish the same huge goals that we are.

There were copious amounts of insights and ideas that were discussed throughout day, but through them all, two big things really stood out to me.

1) There is so much to accomplish at the state and local level—it’s almost mind boggling.

I was fascinated by all the groups that had traveled far and wide to advocate for grievances in their own particular neck of the woods. I met a man running for office in Missouri, a group working on redistricting in Michigan, and countless groups advocating for minorities in Louisiana.

Meeting these groups turned out to be a new lens for my understanding of the work we’re doing in Kansas. I was struck by, despite how different each group was at the Summit, how similar their message and passion actually are. Even though the problems in Wichita, Kansas are very different from those in New Orleans, Louisiana, I heard a similar frustration amongst citizens. A frustration that their voices are not being heard and that their politicians are not working for them.

2) Organizations are still struggling with how to communicate with millennials, but we’re making progress.

My second observation came from a particular roundtable discussion at the conference in which members and advocates from various groups were told to get together and brainstorm about how they could motivate millennials politically. Despite the fact that participants were representative of all different ages, races, and genders, almost everyone had a different opinion on millennials, however the conversation emphasized listening over making assumptions or strong conclusions. Towards the end, groups from opposite ends of the political spectrum found themselves agreeing on a great number of strategies. Disagreements were still had, but in a civil way.

The Unrig the System Summit was the pinnacle of civil discourse, and what resulted was a set of new strategies, new ideas, and new solutions for the American people. All in all, I was very happy to be in attendance on behalf of SAM. We hope to foster similar opportunities for discussion in Kansas, Denver, New York, and all over the United States.


Drisana Hughes

This post was written by Drisana Hughes.

Drisana graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016 with departmental honors in Political Science. While at Penn, she was a Research Assistant in the Political Science Department, Statistics tutor, and Tournament Director of the UPenn Mock Trial team. She previously worked for Morgan Stanley as a Strategic Content Analyst in their Institutional Equities Division before joining SAM.

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