Democracy Found was co-founded by Wisconsin business leaders Katherine Gehl and Austin Ramirez in 2018.
The initiative came together based on Gehl’s origination of “Politics Industry Theory”: the use of competition theory to diagnose our political system’s problems and create innovative solutions like Final-Five Voting. This theory and analysis is published in her book, The Politics Industry, and Harvard Business Review article Fixing U.S. Politics (both co-authored with HBS Professor Michael Porter). Gehl’s 17min TED Talk provides a brief overview of the theory and key solution.
Not long after Gehl’s development of Politics Industry Theory, Ramirez was serving a one-year term as a White House Fellow in the National Economic Council of both the Obama and Trump Administrations. There he saw firsthand that policymakers often agree on solutions and yet nothing happens because politics gets in the way. He understood that Gehl’s Final-Five Voting can change that dynamic and teamed-up with Gehl to support it in Wisconsin. Democracy Found’s original supporters form our Advisory Council. This cross-partisan group of leaders hosted an event in May 2018, where Lynde Uihlein and Andy Nunemaker articulated the systemic nature and broad support behind Final-Five Voting. A lifelong Democrat, Uihlein is one of Wisconsin’s most prominent supporters of liberal causes and candidates. A diehard Republican, Nunemaker hosted the only fundraiser for Donald Trump in Wisconsin during the 2016 election. “We have differing opinions on ballots, on policy, on elections,” Uihlein acknowledged that night, “and Andy and I haven’t changed our minds about what is of value to us, and what’s important, and how we’re going to vote.” Nunemaker added, “But we do agree on this: our current system does not do justice to the United States and our great country. It doesn’t deliver long-term solutions to our greatest political challenges, and divides us.” Uihlein and Nunemaker declared to the almost four hundred people in attendance that they were working together to change election rules in Wisconsin. With many others, they’re still at it.
Early and influential support from bipartisan state elected leaders, Sen. Dale Kooyenga and Rep. Daniel Riemer, has been critical to progress on Final-Five Voting in Wisconsin. They recognize, “The dysfunction in our nation’s capital will not miraculously clean itself up. We at the state level share responsibility for cleaning up the mess at the national level, because as elected state leaders, we have the power to do something about it.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 2020)
Congressional leadership has been championed by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) who wrote, “The next generation of elected leaders is not required to carry on the dysfunctional legacy of gridlock and bad blood that has defined our recent politics. We must match our love of country with a system that’s designed to serve the people, not the “political-industrial complex.” We want to look back on our careers in public service and see that we were able to make American lives better, coast to coast.” (The Politics Industry, Foreword by Reps. Mike Gallagher and Chrissy Houlahan)
Please join us and add your story to what is now the powerful, cross-partisan effort to support Final-Five Voting in Wisconsin: Democracy Found.