December 2 was a snowy Sunday and the Minnesota Vikings were playing, but none of that mattered to the hundreds of people who attended FairVote Minnesota’s special program, “Politics is Harming U.S. Competitiveness: Can Electoral Reform Fix It?”
The presenters – business executive and political innovator Katherine M. Gehl and Harvard Business School professor and noted economist and author Michael E. Porter – described their diagnosis of what ails our democracy based on a multi-year research project and their well-reasoned prescription for “reclaiming the great American experiment,” including Ranked Choice Voting.
Porter and Gehl’s primary thesis is that the rules of our current two-party system are causing intractable polarization and gridlock and this dysfunction is threatening our nation’s economic competitiveness. They made clear that we need to change the rules of the game if we want to see different outcomes. Ranked Choice Voting is one of the reforms at the top of the rule-changing reforms they recommended.
“Legislators will see the light when they feel the heat,” Gehl said by way of urging voters to pressure members of the Minnesota Legislature to pass the RCV Local Options bill in the upcoming session. “This is the next step to advancing RCV statewide in Minnesota.”
FairVote Minnesota Executive Director Jeanne Massey described the organization’s ambitious plan for advancing RCV statewide.
Congressman-elect Dean Phillips, who also spoke to the audience, shared his excitement about the conversation that is taking place on the need for political reform.
Today is “the most heartwarming thing I’ve seen since election night,” he said. He also urged everyone to “keep the pressure up” on members of Congress to pass a general reform bill and for new members to resist the corrupting influence of money from big donors.
Former state senator Terri Bonoff, who recently joined the FairVote Minnesota board, ended the formal presentation by inspiring everyone to get involved.
“We have a chance to invest in something that can repair and restore our democracy,” she told the enthusiastic crowd. “Let’s work together to make our democracy work for all Minnesotans.”
On the following Monday, Gehl and Porter repeated their presentation to a packed auditorium of students, faculty and alumni at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management and to a group of business executives with the Minnesota Business Partnership.
The two-day series of presentations “has generated a great deal of new interest and engagement by the business community and concerned citizens,” said event sponsor Peter Hutchinson. “I believe the moment is now to make significant and meaningful reform happen in Minnesota.”
For more information about the event or FairVote Minnesota, or to schedule a presentation to your group, contact communications director Kelly O’Brien.