WHY COMPETITION IN THE POLITICS INDUSTRY IS FAILING AMERICA
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
This work was funded by Harvard Business School, including the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness
and the Division of Research and Faculty Development. No external funding was received.
Katherine and Michael are both involved in supporting the work they advocate in this report. For purposes
of full disclosure:
Katherine is on the Board of The Centrist Project, and a donor and fundraiser for a variety of political
reform and innovation organizations. She has donated to and raised funds for the Campaign Legal Center
(for its lawsuit against partisan redistricting in Wisconsin). She is also a donor to No Labels; the Fix the
Debt campaign; FairVote’s campaign for ranked choice voting in Maine; and Govern for California (which
supports selected candidates in California). Before shifting focus to non-partisan political innovation,
Katherine was a fundraiser and a member of the National Finance Committee for the 2008 Obama
campaign, and a significant donor in 2012. She donates to political candidates.
Michael is a donor to and hosted a fundraiser for The Centrist Project. He has advised, contributed to
publications, and spoken at No Labels events. He donates to political candidates.
The views expressed in the paper are the sole responsibility of the authors and are not meant to represent
views of Harvard Business School or Harvard University.