06/29/2017 by Lenny Mendonca

Business Interest in the Public Interest: DisruptDC’s Case for Better Government


(Photo Credits: Violeta Vaqueiro (left); US Capitol)

Originally published in Fox & Hounds

Most people — especially those who read this blog — are already aware of the political gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, D.C. Watching Democrats and Republican spend their time arguing with each other and posturing for the camera is frustrating for most of us—-and is no substitute for what most of us want—meaningful progress on the issues that matter to this country.

What is not always so obvious is the negative effect this dysfunction is having on the economy and the business sector. Last year, a Harvard Business School report from Michael Porter concluded that our broken political system is the #1 drag on US economic competitiveness. This paralysis is at the root of countless other issues — and these times require the courage to take meaningful action.

CA Fwd, which I co-chair, has been a key player in helping identify and implement reforms that have transformed California from dysfunctional to a leader in trans-partisan governance reform. From citizens’ redistricting to open primaries, California has transformed the way it’s governed itself in the last decade. (The job is not finished, by the way.) What California and other states are learning and implementing can help reform advocates across the country and help fix the mess in D.C.

That’s why I’m excited to be part of a new organization called DisruptDC, the country’s only business coalition focused exclusively on improving our government and elections.

Right now, our country needs to bridge our political divides and deliver real results no matter who is in charge. DisruptDC stands for upgrading our political system from end to end: more competitive elections, a more results-focused policymaking process, and a more efficient and responsive government to implement our laws. This is not about bigger or smaller government, it’s about government that works for the people it’s designed to serve.

It’s not that we lack for solutions (see this CA Fwd report for example)— it’s that we need the political will. Bringing business to the table as public advocates, not business lobbyists, will help generate the sustained pressure we need to get results across the country. In fact, needed reform won’t occur if the voice of business is not heard.

Fixing American government is not a linear process, but rather a portfolio of priorities that we will advance wherever we find the opportunity. Open primaries, nonpartisan redistricting, better technology, increased transparency, and anti-corruption reform may sound modest individually, but collectively they will be transformative. DisruptDC will push these and other reforms and work to hold our representatives accountable for operating in the public interest, not any narrow interest. This means bringing integrity, accountability, and effectiveness to everything government does.

I’m looking forward to collaborating with the DisruptDC team to attack this issue. The founders are entrepreneurs based in the Bay Area, while their CEO, Charlie Kolb, is located in Washington, D.C. I’ve known him for 20 years when he led the Committee for Economic Development (the group that helped develop and lead the Marshall Plan’s passage after WWII), a business-led think tank, and now part of the Conference Board.

The credentials of this group are unassailable. The need for this group is undeniable.

Washington, D.C. needs the same kind of positive disruption and innovation that is happening across the country including here in California. This is an important new citizen-driven initiative and I’m proud to be part of it. Please join me in helping DisruptDC.

Lenny Mendonca is co-chair of the CA Fwd Leadership Council

Categories: Democracy, Governance Reform

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