The Problem with Politics

February 15, 2024
7:30 p.m.–9:00 p.m. ET

Richard Barton, Katherine M. Gehl, and Kevin Johnson discussed how the existing electoral system contributes to gridlock, the crucial role in holding elected officials accountable, and how proposed solutions differ. This event was organized by the Network for Responsible Public Policy.



RICHARD BARTON is a professor of Public Administration and International Affairs at Syracuse University. His research focuses on election systems, legislative institutions and American political economy. His peer-reviewed publications include “A Primary Threat: How Ideological Primary Challengers Exacerbate Polarization in Bill Sponsorship” and “Upending the New Deal Regulatory Regime: Democratic Party Position Change on Financial Regulation.” He authored the white paper reports “California’s Top-Two Primary: The Effects on Electoral Politics and Governance” and “Louisiana’s Long-Term Election Experiment: How Eliminating Partisan Primaries Improved Governance and Reduced.” His op-eds have been published by over 50 different outlets including the Washington Post and CNN. He is a Democracy Fellow with the Unite America Institute, where he conducts research and thought leadership on the effects of primaries and alternative electoral institutions on governance He earned a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University.

KATHERINE M. GEHL is the founder of The Institute for Political Innovation (IPI), a nonpartisan nonprofit founded in 2020 to catalyze modern political change in America. Katherine is the originator of Politics Industry Theory, and author of “The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy,” which she co-authored with Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter.  Katherine is a veteran of the public and private sectors. She is also the honorary co-chair of the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers, and the co-founder of Democracy Found.


KEVIN JOHNSON is the Executive Director of Election Reformers Network, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to modernizing U.S. democratic institutions threatened by polarization. Kevin leads ERN’s programs in impartial election administration, independent redistricting, and voting rules. Mr. Johnson is also a member of the Carter Center’s Election Expert Study Team, which supports Carter Center programs in the United States. Mr. Johnson’s election reform experience includes seven years overseas with the National Democratic Institute, ten years on the Board of Common Cause Massachusetts, and advisory positions with American Promise, Rank the Vote, and Voter Choice Massachusetts. Mr. Johnson has authored more than two dozen election-related opinion pieces in outlets including The Washington Post, The Hill, Governing, and The Daily Beast, along with longer reports on topics such as partisan election administration and gerrymandering.  Mr. Johnson has an M.B.A. from Wharton and a B.A. from Yale.


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