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Katherine Gehl x Horizon PBS

The Politics Industry Theory equates the current American political system to a bad business model. Theory originator and “The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy” author, Katherine Gehl joins Ted to talk about the current state of the American democracy.

“I can probably speak pretty confidently on behalf of the majority of Americans that we are disappointed at the disfunction in our government,” said Gehl. “We see that in the disapproval rating of Congress, which hovers between 80 and 90 percent, and just the general frustration that we all see expressed in the conversations we’re having every day.”

Gehl says she got inspiration for her theory from running her own business.

“If I were making my customers as unhappy as our political industry – our politicians are making their customers, the voter, there would be some new competition coming in to give me and my competitive a run for our money,” said Gehl.

As Gehl points out, in a traditional business model, customers can choose a different company if things go south. However, this may not be the same in government, which Gehl compares to a private industry dominated by a duopoly.

“We’re stuck with the same old choices – the lesser of two evils elections,” said Gehl. “In our current system, solving problems in a consensus, sustainable way makes it less likely that the politicians who do that will win reelection.”

According to Gehl, the reason this is the case is because most of the U.S. House and Senate are elected during “low turn-out, summer party primaries.”


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