"America's Worst Nightmare Right Now"

By Pam Peak on September 15, 2016

"America's Worst Nightmare Right Now"

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Business guru Michael Porter and his colleagues at Harvard Business School released their latest annual report on the state of the U.S. economy's health and its ability to created shared prosperity for all Americans. A critical finding: the failing U.S. political system is the number one constraint on our economy. It's an astonishing development that America's political system - in particular, the partisanship preventing anything from getting done to address the real issues at the core of our economy - is the top threat to our country's long-term economic success. Porter called this "America's worst nightmare" right now in a recent interview.

Here's why: partisanship has hijacked how government is supposed to function. Leaders are supposed to look at the data and evidence showing the root cause of a problem, and then create solutions to address the cause of our problems. Today, the national rhetoric in our election has nothing to do with real solutions (such as meaningful immigration reform, tax reform, and infrastructure investments). Our system is designed for people to come to the table with different perspectives, respect opposing ideas, and work together and compromise to come up with the best ways to fix the problems. Instead, partisanship has created such a gulf between the two parties, there is no ability to find common ground on anything. The result: nothing gets done, our economic future is at risk, and economic inequality gets worse.

The Centrist Project's goal is to address this downward-spiral by spreading the word: partisanship and gridlock has real costs for real people. The median household income (in real terms) has not gone up in 17 years. Americans need a raise. Washington is broken -- it needs a mediator (a marriage counselor, shall we say) to bring the sides together, free from partisan shackles, and get back to solving problems. That's why we support Independent candidates - those who align with the Centrist Principles representing 70% of our voters in the middle - fiscal responsibility, social tolerance, environmental responsibility, with a commitment to solving problems and restoring a functional government. Without the partisan hi-jinks and point-scoring mentality, they can bring the parties together and forge solutions. Let's get government working. Our nation depends on it. 

The following is an important excerpt from the HBS report on the role our failing political system plays on our nation's economic welfare. The Centrist Project aims to answer the last question: how do we fix the system? Our perspective: join us and help elect candidates with sound principles and the independence from the parties to actually bring people to the table. Spread the word to voters and your networks that there is meaningful action we can take to fix our own system.

Excerpt: A failing political system

• The U.S. political system was once the envy of many nations. Over the last two decades, however, it has become our greatest liability. Americans no longer trust their political leaders, and political polarization has increased dramatically. Americans are increasingly frustrated with the U.S. political system. Independents now account for 42% of Americans, a greater percentage than that of either major party. 
• The political system is no longer delivering good results for the average American. Numerous indicators point to failure to compromise and deliver practical solutions to the nation’s problems. Political polarization has especially made it harder to build consensus on sensible economic policies that address key U.S. weaknesses. It is at the root of our inability to progress on the consensus Eight-Point Plan. 
• A large majority of HBS alumni believe the political system is obstructing U.S. economic growth and competitiveness. Many alumni who self-identified as Democrat or Republican blame the other party, but a sizable proportion also hold their own party responsible. 
• Among the general public, many believe that the political system is obstructing economic progress. However, many Americans are unsure, which we attribute to the divisive and partisan dialog on the economy which has confused the public on many issues. 
• There is strong support for political reform among surveyed alumni. On six common proposals for political system reform, a strong majority of HBS alumni support five of them. The most supported reforms are gerrymandering reform and campaign finance reform. 
• Among the general public, the top two political reforms supported are term limits for the House and Senate and campaign finance reform. However, a large percentage of the general public are unsure about which reforms they favor. 
• Overall, we believe that dysfunction in America’s political system is now the single most important challenge to U.S. economic progress. Many Americans are keenly aware that the system is broken, but are unsure why it is broken or how to fix it. While there is rising frustration with politics, there is, as yet, no framework for understanding the reasons for today’s poor performance and proposing effective solutions. Identifying such a framework, and the set of reforms that can change the trajectory of our political system, has become a crucial priority.

For the full report, visit: http://www.hbs.edu/competitiveness/Documents/problems-unsolved-and-a-nation-divided.pdf

For Michael Porter's explanation, watch: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/us-competitiveness-project-harvard-business-school-hbs-michael-porter-030021739.html