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Book Discussion: Innovations to Protect Democracy

Our May book sparked an especially lively discussion. The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy is by Kathryn Gehl and Michael Porter.

Many at the table had brought detailed notes. Our discussion focused on the possible innovations rather than the gridlock. Gehl and Porter compared our current situation to another time of social and economic upheaval—the Gilded Age of the late 1800s, and then they showed how progressive political innovations changed the rules of voting to right the scales at that time. 

Our group exchanged ideas about the book’s two proposed innovations for our current times: a final five primary election to select the top 5 candidates regardless of party affiliation and implementing ranked choice voting for the general election. These changes, if made in more states, would allow us to elect a Congress with members ready to collaborate and resolve problems. The authors argued we also need to push Congress to change its own rules so that they are responsive to public needs.

Those present at the Skylark Cafe meeting thought other innovations in the political process were needed and facilitator Cindy Madigan brought us up to date on work the League is doing at the state and national level to promote election innovations.

Interested in joining with us? Our group meets in alternate months to discuss books about democracy or other issues of concern to the League. Members interested in learning and sharing ideas about current issues are welcome to attend. See the calendar and register here for the July 31 discussion.

Our next book will be One Nation Under Guns: How Gun Culture Distorts our Democracy, by historian Dominic Erdozain. It’s an examination of gun culture in the United States and how the meaning of the Second Amendment has evolved.

New!  Several members have reported that they usually read our selected books, but cannot attend the meetings. If you cannot attend the evening discussions in person, but would like to meet virtually to talk about the book, please contact Joy Monjure at