Events to examine the future of political parties and direct democracy

Desmond Meade, executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, and Andrew Yang, former U.S. presidential candidate, will offer their thoughts on the future of American democracy at events hosted by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy. Credit: Photos providedAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As another election cycle draws closer, conversations are emerging around how to make democracy work for everyone — from voting rights to political parties. The McCourtney Institute for Democracy will address these topics head-on at two events taking place in mid-November.

Desmond Meade, executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), will give the 2021 Brown Democracy Medal lecture at 4 p.m. Nov. 11. On Nov. 16, the institute will host a virtual event at 4:30 p.m. about the future of the two-party system with former presidential and New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang and former U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent.

Under Meade’s leadership, the FRRC launched Amendment 4, a ballot initiative that asked Florida residents whether voting rights should automatically be restored for people with prior felony convictions. The measure passed in November 2018 with support from 65% of the state’s voters in a broad, bipartisan coalition.

Earlier this fall, Meade was named a 2021 MacArthur Fellow and recipient of the organization's “genius grant.” He also had his civil rights fully restored, allowing him to take the bar exam and run for political office.

Yang is an entrepreneur, attorney and author. His latest book is “Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy.” Dent is the McCourtney Institute’s fall 2021 visiting fellow. He is executive director and vice president of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program and a CNN political analyst.

Yang and Dent agree that America’s party system is in disarray but have different ideas on how to fix it. They will discuss these ideas in a conversation moderated by McCourtney Institute communications specialist Jenna Spinelle

For more information and to register, visit

Last Updated October 21, 2021