Many Americans are disgusted and concerned about the dysfunction and abysmal results from Washington, D.C., and so are we. However, this paper is not about adding to the depressing national dialog about politics, but about how to change the system by taking action that will work.
Too many people—including many pundits, political scientists, and politicians themselves—are laboring under a misimpression that our political problems are inevitable, or the result of a weakening of the parties, or due to the parties’ ideological incoherence, or because of an increasingly polarized American public. Those who focus on these reasons are looking in the wrong places. The result is that despite all the commentary and attention on politics in recent years, there is still no accepted strategy to reform the system and things keep getting worse.
We need a new approach. Our political problems are not due to a single cause, but rather to a failure of the nature of the political competition that has been created. This is a systems problem.
We are not political scientists, political insiders, or political experts. Instead, we bring
analytical lens to understanding the performance of our political system: the lens of industry competition. This type of analysis has been used for decades to understand competition in other industries, and sheds new light on the failure of politics because politics in America has become, over the last several decades, a major industry that works like other industries.
We use this lens to put forth an investment thesis for political reform and innovation. What would be required to actually change the political outcomes we are experiencing? What would it take to better align the political system with the public interest and make progress on the nation’s problems? And, which of the many political reform and innovation ideas that have been proposed would actually alter the trajectory of the system?
Politics in America is not a hopeless problem, though it is easy to feel this way given what we experience and read about every day. There are promising reforms already gaining traction including important elements of the strategy we propose. It is up to us as citizens to recapture our democracy—it will not be self-correcting. We invite you to personally engage by investing both your time and resources—and by mobilizing those around you—in what we believe is the greatest challenge facing America today.