One Change

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If you hadn't heard, this presidential election is going to be about "change." Richard Cohen at the Washington Post says if you want to see real change it's time to fix the way we finance campaigns in our country and move to a full public financing system.

Cohen dispatches with the red herring arguments over lobbyists and heads right for the essential conflict:


The average winner of a congressional race in 2006 spent $1.3 million. The average Senate winner spent $9.6 million. Where do you think much of this money came from? Lobbyists. What do you think members of Congress must start doing the day after their election? Raising money. This is why Congress is often in session only three days a week and why holidays have been stretched into virtual recesses. Fundraising, fundraising, fundraising.

A lobbyist I know tells me that at the height of the fundraising season, he gets invited to 50 or 60 events per week. Sometimes, when he goes up to Capitol Hill, he might look across a room and accidentally make eye contact with a congressman or a senator. Soon an e-mail will arrive: A little money, please. It's worse than a singles bar.

The only way to eliminate the disproportionate influence of lobbyists is to break Congress's nymphomaniacal lust for campaign funds.

Cohen also credits the willingness of candidates on the Democratic side in the presidential race to talk more openly about the campaign finance issue, and endorse public financing.

Fortunately for the masses that are lining up behind a message of change, vehicles exist to make that change possible. The Fair Elections Now Act in the Senate, and its companion legislation in the House can bring public financing to congressional elections and Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) with the support of many other Senators has introduced a bill to update the presidential public financing system.