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People for the American Way

People For the American Way and its affiliate, People For the American Way Foundation, are progressive advocacy organizations founded to fight right-wing extremism and build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity and justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunity.

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Ben Jealous, who spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, is the new president of People for the American Way.

Meet the reformer: Ben Jealous, who's back to lead a second premier voting rights group

Few advocacy leaders can say they have led two of the more storied progressive organizations fighting for civil rights and voting rights. Ben Jealous now counts himself a member of that select cohort. The youngest person named to head the NAACP, in 2008 when he was just 35, he led that organization through the Trayvon Martin case, the fight over New York's stop-and-frisk policies and other civil rights battles. He also formed the Democracy Initiative, a progressive coalition pushing campaign finance and voting rights reform. He left the NAACP in 2013 and was the Democratic nominee for governor of Maryland two years ago, losing to GOP incumbent Larry Hogan by 12 points. In June he was named president of People for the American Way, the progressive group founded by TV visionary Norman Lear. His answers have been edited for clarity and length.

What's democracy's biggest challenge, in 10 words or less?

Money in politics.

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Eighteen democracy reform groups have asked the chairman of the Democratic National Committee to focus at least one presidential debate on democracy reform issues.

Reform groups ask DNC to hold debate on plans to fix the political system

Eighteen groups promoting democracy reform sent a letter Tuesday to Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, asking for a presidential debate focused on the candidates' democracy reform plans.

"Whether it comes to addressing our climate crisis, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, ending gun violence, or any other issue Democratic candidates have been talking about on the campaign trail, the role of a healthy democracy in achieving those ends is undeniable," the letter states.

The groups who signed the letter are: Brennan Center for Justice, The Center for Popular Democracy, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Democracy 21, The Democratic Coalition, End Citizens United, Equal Citizens, Indivisible, New American Leaders, New American Leaders Action Fund, New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, People for the American Way, Progressive Turnout Project, Protect Democracy, Public Citizen, Voices for Progress and Wolf-PAC.

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