Voices & Choices

The Politics Industry: Reformers Highlight RCV in New Book

The Politics Industry: Reformers Highlight RCV in New Book

In our current era of unprecedented hyper-partisanship, there is one fact Americans of all political persuasions can agree on: the American political system is broken.

It’s easy to be a pessimist about this. After all, trust in the system is low, problems with broad bipartisan support are left unsolved, and the two-party duopoly stifles innovative ideas.

Fortunately, Katherine Gehl, founder of the Institute for Political Innovation, and Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor, are optimists: they believe that, with tweaks and imagination, the political system can be made to work for all Americans.

In their new book, The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy, they apply Porter’s famed Five Forces framework to explain the issues at the root of America’s political dysfunction—and then devote the remainder of the book to solving those problems.

Their main solution: a Final-Five primary system featuring ranked choice voting (RCV)—where the top five candidates in any election would advance to a final vote conducted via RCV.

Gehl and Porter, in a recent Salon op-ed, detail the rationale behind this reform.

In almost every other healthy industry, a third, fourth, or fifth choice is not only appreciated by customers, but demanded, and healthy competition almost always makes the industry's products better, or cheaper, or both…

With Final-Five Voting, instead of party primaries, we will have nonpartisan primaries from which up to five candidates can proceed to the general election…Then, instead of the first-past-the-post, winner-take-all plurality system, we'll have a ranked-choice experience, a new process in which voters can rank candidates in order of preference. Ranked-choice voting ensures the winner has majority support and can solve problems, while still creating space for the new ideas and bold candidacies — from the center and the fringes — that deserve a seat at the table, a voice in the political marketplace of ideas.

Final-Five Voting will change the very nature of competition in American politics. It isn't designed to force people to abandon their ideological views, their parties, or to change who wins; it's designed to change what the winners are incentivized to do — and not do — on behalf of the American people.

Gehl and Porter’s incorporation of RCV into their predominant plan underscores a fundamental fact: RCV is nonpartisan, it works, and it’s simple.

We’re at a pivotal juncture in American politics. People are realizing that the government isn’t working for them—and they’re demanding change. Better governance methods—including RCV—can and should be part of that change. We are glad that Gehl and Porter acknowledge the positive power of RCV, and are grateful to work alongside them in the movement for a better country.


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