To our surprise and delight we had a greater than expected attendance at our December 13 luncheon. Our speaker was Philip Kotler, PhD, who Board Member Robert Gary introduced as the Father of Modern Marketing. Dr. Kotler is the Professor Emeritus of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is the author of over 150 published articles and 60 books, including Democracy in Decline: Rebuilding its Future. Dr. Kotler shared his views on several problems facing our nation including the questions of whether capitalism in our democracy is working. He also shared his insights about the value proposition that the Democratic Party should adopt going into the 2020 elections.
The title of Dr. Kotler’s presentation was Great Inequality of Income is a Threat to Democracy. The main shortcomings of American capitalism, he says, are growing income and wealth inequality, low wages and high consumer debt, huge educational debt for graduates of colleges and professional schools, together with high executive pay, uncurbed growth of monopoly, oligopoly and financial capitalism. American Democracy is plagued by voter suppression, low voter literacy, and gerrymandering. Our two political parties are polarized and gridlocked. He pointed out that U. S. voter turnout is disappointingly low (55% in 2012) compared to other free countries and our voters and our voters are mostly uninformed.
Capitalism is corrupting our Democracy, he said. A U.S. politician seeking election must start with $1 million and attract many wealthy donors if he/she is to continue running. Kotler advocates shorter election campaigns financed by the government.
Rather than focusing on criticizing the current administration, Dr. Kotler made a strong argument that the Democratic Party should stay proactive, positive and work hard to improve our Democracy and our capitalism. The Common Good should be our value proposition going forward. The Common Good insists on excellent basic education and health coverage in our society, and expects businesses to have a societal purpose. The Common Good should be served by an active government and an active nonprofit sector.
The theme of The Common Good should drive the selection of the next Democratic candidate for President. Some of our major political stands going forward should be reducing the growing income and wealth gap, transitioning our health system to Medicare for All, allocating money to fix deteriorating infrastructure, revising gerrymandered districts, reducing education debt, improving gun control policy and reducing poverty and hunger.
Our Democracy can also be improved by fixing our government. We should have term limits, perhaps 24 years, for the House of Representatives, the Senate and The Supreme Court.
In short, Dr. Kotler says “Let’s Save Democracy and Make it Work for More People”.
Dr. Kotler’s presentation was followed by a lively question and answer period where we, among other things, explored the qualities for some of the potential 2020 candidates. The presentation was very well received and the discussion that followed was lively.