It's tough to find someone with more of a Beltway insider's insider pedigree than Reed Hundt. He began building a hugely influential network in mainstream Democratic circles at a young age, as a buddy of Al Gore at Washington's prestigious St. Alban's School for boys and as a Yale Law School friend of Bill Clinton. He advised Gore's career while a partner at Latham & Watkins and was the nation's top telecommunications regulator for four years in the 1990s. But now he runs two nonprofits: Making Every Vote Count, which advocates for presidential elections by national popular vote rather than the Electoral College, and the Coalition for Green Capital, which promotes environmentally friendly lending. His answers have been edited for clarity and length.
What's the tweet-length description of your organization?
Making Every Vote Count is a nonprofit that believes it's not who counts the vote but what votes count that defines democracy. Every vote should count equally no matter what state the voter votes in.
What's democracy's biggest challenge, in 10 words or less?
Presidential candidates ignoring the voters of 40 states, or 80 percent of the population, and conducting their campaigns only in the electoral vote swing states.
Describe your very first civic engagement.
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My wife in 1980. Oh, you didn't mean that sort of engagement? Then it would be the march on the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam war in October 1967, described in Norman Mailer's "Armies of the Night."
What was your biggest professional triumph?
The election of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in November 1992, leading to my appointment as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission for four years ending in 1997.
And your most disappointing setback?
The defeat of Al Gore, the national presidential popular vote winner by 514,000 votes in November 2000.
How does an aspect of your identity influence how you go about your work?
As Tennyson wrote in "Ulysses," to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. I hope.
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
You can't win them all.
Create a new flavor for Ben & Jerry's.
Landslide 2020: pecan, maple, vanilla, chocolate — and pomegranate.
What's your favorite political movie or TV show?
What's the last thing you do on your phone at night?
See if it is firmly plugged in.
What is your deepest, darkest secret?
If I hadn't been FCC chairman I would have become ambassador to Brazil.