Reader’s Forum — Steve Hough

…no matter how bad things get, we as citizens retain control of our government—if we exercise it.”

Gehl, Katherine M.. The Politics Industry (p. 105). Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle Edition.

As someone who has been involved in the electoral reform movement for a number of years in my home state of Florida, I have often become discouraged as expressed by this image.

Eight years ago, I asked myself how we got to the point where the majority of our fellow citizens continue to support two warring political factions that fail to govern effectively. We have closed primaries in Florida, so opening them to all voters has been a long-term goal. However, it was not until 2017 that Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter opened my eyes fully to the mechanism by which the political duopoly perpetuates their control over our elections and much of the electorate.

Steve Hough

Their report, Why Competition In The Politics Industry Is Failing America, brought into focus some things that I had observed in more general terms. That report connected all the dots and provided a blueprint for building a better mousetrap. I congratulate Katherine and Michael for their efforts in sharing their work over the last three years, and I was excited to learn that they were expanding their work in the form of a new book.

You have a choice to make. You can continue applying your agency elsewhere, indirectly perpetuating the political-industrial complex that undermines the very causes you are prioritizing separately (and nobly, to be sure). Or you can redirect your agency to further catalyze a twenty-first-century wave of political innovation to break partisan gridlock and save our democracy; in which case you’re advancing every cause. Without a sea change, our political system will continue to do more harm to education, the environment, the economy—you name it. A transformation of the politics industry can do more than we can do on our own to help those sacred corners of America.”

Gehl, Katherine M.. The Politics Industry (p. 172). Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle Edition.

I agree that great organizations have long been fighting the good fight when it comes to individual issues, and it will continue being a challenge to create awareness about the potential for lasting change via innovative reform of our elections process. By the same token, there are numerous electoral reform organizations working on various types of initiatives and sometimes appear to be in competition with one another. Competition of ideas is a good thing, and I view the movement for electoral reform an evolutionary process. My hope is that, in the very near future, a natural synergy will develop among a number of organizations and the end result will be reformers of all stripes following the same road map in order to arrive at a mutually desired destination.

Steve Hough is a lifelong independent and became an activist for political reform after retiring as an accountant. He is the director of Florida Fair and Open Primaries.


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Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

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