Oh, We're Dead. You Hadn't Heard?

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I had no more than a passing relationship with science classes in college but I stuck around long enough to absorb the following: "the plural of anecdote is not data." I don't want to come down too hard on Jim Mills at The Hill, but I think he'd do well to refer to this little aphorism before he picks up his hammer again to drive a stake into the heart of campaign finance reform.

In a column entitled "RIP, campaign finance reform" (seriously, if I had a nickel for every time we've been eulogized in print...) Mills writes that Sen. Barack Obama's meteoric rise from Illinois state Senator to presumable Democratic nominee for President -- and the impressive fundraising numbers he's racked up on the way -- somehow rule out the need for any campaign finance reform:


To put it inelegantly, Obama is not a card-carrying member of the LSC (Lucky Sperm Club). He didn’t have his daddy’s old-establishment Rolodex to raise a hundred million here and there to see if running for president might be pretty fun.

Nope. Obama combined old-fashioned smarts, great organizational abilities and a small (then) team of true believers who saw him as the real deal, then embraced the new-fashioned Internet to complete the recipe.

Never again will an outsider be able to whine that his parents didn’t go to Yale or that he or she didn’t have the right connections to go all the way.

Despite the “hypocrisy” of going back on his word, whether Obama goes on to win the election or not, he has solved the campaign finance dilemma.

Oh, really? Wow, that was easy. One man raises a lot of money online in small donations and we never have to worry about the influence of big money in our elections ever again. No candidate will ever have incentive to raise the vast majority of their money from high-dollar donors, because Obama has shown us the way!

Sorry - I'm not buying it. Obama is still raising about 50% of his money from those three and four figure checks and what's more the candidates for Congress and raising most of their money from big donors. We can crow about the small donor revolution until we are blue in the face and we still won't have changed the fundamental facts: for most races, most places, big money rules. Fortunately, there is a fix for this dependence that does not rely on Obama-like lightening striking twice: Clean Elections. Clean Elections public financing programs are, despite efforts by Mr. Mills and others to trumpet their demise, alive and thriving in seven states and two cities.