By Alan Murray and David Meyer
September 13, 2018

Good morning.

Members of Fortune’s CEO Initiative had a conference call yesterday with Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter, who you may remember teamed up in Fortune last year to write “Why Politics Is Failing America.” It was an innovative analysis that applied the competitive strategy tools Porter developed for business to U.S. politics, concluding it had all the dysfunctional characteristics of a duopoly. The system works well for the participants—party enthusiasts who can raise lots of money and motivate their core supporters—but fails to serve the interests of the ultimate consumers: U.S. citizens.

In yesterday’s call, Gehl and Porter talked about the research they have been doing since then on political reform. “Washington is working exactly how it is designed to work, and delivering what it is designed to deliver. But it is not designed for us,” Gehl said, noting that some 43% of Americans now identify as independents. “In any other industry this large with this much dissatisfaction, you would see new entrants,” Porter said. But the party duopoly has made that all but impossible.

What’s the solution? The one they emphasized on yesterday’s call was this: Hold open primaries that choose the top four candidates, regardless of party affiliation, followed by rank-choice general elections with “instant run-offs.” That would ensure the candidate with the most support would win the race, regardless of party affiliation.

The two are focusing their efforts on congressional elections, whose rules are set in many cases by state legislators. They called on the CEOs to join their effort to push those legislators for reform. “We in business have been drawn into the partisan dysfunction,” Porter said, making campaign donations to ensure access for business lobbyists. “We need to look at ourselves,” and recognize that the political-industrial complex has “lost the trust of a lot of Americans.”

Amen to that. More news below.

Alan Murray


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