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“A central question facing the nation today is whether America will live up to its promise of democracy and political equality for all. We urge Lester Holt of NBC News, as the moderator of this year’s first presidential debate, to ensure that the candidates debate first the health of our democracy and what they will do to preserve our common vision of self-government: of, by, and for the people.”
— John Bonifaz, Co-Founder and President of Free Speech For People

In less than two weeks, NBC has a unique opportunity to ask the 2016 presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, to discuss the health of our democracy.  At a time when the gap between those who have and those  who don’t  is greater than ever, we have a responsibility to demand that these presidential hopefuls answer how they will reform and restore democracy for all.  On September 26th, NBC’s Lester Holt has a chance to ask the important questions and hold the candidates accountable to answering them. We hope that Lester Holt will ask Clinton and Trump about their plans to mend our democracy and end the big money influence of our elections.

Free Speech For People has joined more than 30 Democracy Reform Groups to urge debate moderator Lester Holt to ask Clinton and Trump about democracy reform.  Under the banner “First Debate Democracy,” we launched a campaign to put pressure on Lester Holt and NBC to ask the questions that Americans want answers to. We want to know how the candidates plan to make our democracy work for all Americans—not just the wealthy few or special interest groups.

“While there are a number of critical policy differences between the candidates, there is one subject so fundamental to our future — so essential to our national identity — that its inclusion in this debate must be guaranteed.  The candidates must first debate democracy itself,” said Morris Pearl, Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, in an open letter to Lester Holt that kicked off the First Debate Democracy campaign. “Power—more specifically, the distribution of power—in this country affects every aspect of American life from trade deals to criminal justice from water quality to access to medical treatment.”

If you’d like to take action, click here to add your name to our petition.

Groups including money-in-politics and voting reform groups are circulating  petitions that will be delivered directly to Lester Holt urging he ask the candidates about democracy issues such as money in politics, voting rights, and filling the Supreme Court vacancy. These groups include the Agenda Project, American Promise, Alliance for Justice, Brave New Films, Coalition for Open Democracy, Common Cause, Demand Progress, Democracy Matters, Democracy Initiative, Demos, Every Voice, Free Speech For People, Funders Committee on Civic Participation, Issue One, MAYDAY.US,, The New York Urban League, NH Rebellion, he Other 98%, Headcount, the creators of the documentary Pay2Play, Patriotic Millionaires, PEN American Center, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, Represent.US, ReThink Media, Rootstrikers, Scholars StrategyNetwork, Stamp Stampede, Take Back Our Republic, and U.S. PIRG.