Small Checks, Big Changes

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E.J. Dionne heralds the rise of the small donor in today's Washington Post, pointing to the Supreme Court drubbing of campaign finance regulation and Barack Obama's successful online small-donor fundraising efforts as evidence that new methods must be explored to adjust the balance of campaign contribution power.

Big money's influence is so pervasive in politics, however, that it's not just a question of one presidential candidate amassing a large number of small dollar donors. Dionne mentions Senator Durbin's introduction of the Fair Elections Now Act to level the playing field even further and get around the logjams created by the financial influence of the student loan industry and other wealthy special interests looking to influence Congress' priorities. His closing paragraph calls for both a stimulus for small donor participation and a strong full public financing system (and actually the Fair Elections Now Act accomplishes both):


Offering candidates realistic options to support their campaigns with public funds -- Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced an important bill to this effect earlier this year -- combined with a strong stimulus for small giving could be the most effective way to confront what Souter called the "unprecedented enormity" of the "concentrations of money in politics."