Government & Policy

Repairing American politics: A candid talk with Katherine Gehl

January 25, 2023

Repairing American politics:  A candid talk with Katherine Gehl

Katherine Gehl

Business Leader, Author, and Co-Founder of the Campaign for Final Five Voting

Katherine Gehl, business leader, activist, and co-author of The Politics Industry, joined Willy to discuss the broken political system.

In a recent edition of the Walker Webcast, I had the opportunity to sit down with Katherine Gehl for a chat. Katherine is the founder of the Institute for Political Innovation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization designed to catalyze modern political change in the US. She founded the institute in 2020 after co-writing The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy.

Here are some of the key takeaways from my conversation with her.

What is the Hastert Rule?

Over the course of recent US history, there has been a major shift in political power to the majority party within the House of Representatives. The Hastert Rule, also known as the “majority of the majority” rule, is typically followed by the Speaker of the House. According to the Hastert Rule, the Speaker should not allow the House to vote on a bill unless a majority of the Speaker’s party supports the bill.  

How has the Hastert Rule changed American politics?

The Hastert Rule has given incredible power to the House majority, as many bills never receive  support from the House majority. This means that most proposed bills never even come to a vote. While the role of Congress is to represent the country as a whole, this unofficial rule gives the House majority tremendous power.  

Gehl contends that the Hastert rule can be used to effectively hold bills hostage. For instance, in 2013, Congress needed to raise the debt ceiling to keep government offices open.  A bill to do so was proposed; however, it was not put to a vote because less than half of the majority party  supported it.  

After 16 days of gridlock and a lengthy government shutdown, the Speaker of the House at the time, John Boehner, decided to break the rule and allow the house to vote on the bill.  This particular gridlock and associated government shutdown cost US taxpayers roughly $24 billion.

Gehl assured that the Hastert Rule is just one example of a flawed political system — a system  designed to protect the jobs of politicians rather than to represent the true will of the American public.

Why Final Five Voting is a better way

Final Five voting is an innovative system to elect our political leaders. As of today, in most cases, only one Democrat and one Republican are able to advance past the primaries into the general election.  

With Final Five Voting, the five most popular candidates advance into the general election (regardless of political party affiliation), allowing for a broader pool of candidates for a given office. This keeps voters from dealing with the “lesser of two evils” predicament in which they often find themselves. Instead of having just one candidate from each party, voters are able to choose from a range of candidates from different parties with a final five voting approach.

Final Five Voting also puts pressure on politicians to produce results in line with voter sentiment rather than simply maintaining the political status quo. Gehl makes the point that introducing real competition into the political process would produce better results overall, much like introducing competition in business, which leads to more innovation and better products.

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