On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune ran an article with the subhead, "Blagojevich's arrest may be the final straw that shatters Illinois' political culture of 'pay to play'."
But the solutions listed in the article don't go far enough. While campaign contribution limits might be a start, that doesn't get to the root of the problem. Under our current privately financed system, campaign cash has become the currency of our democracy.
Today, the Fair Elections Now Coalition sent a memo to journalists on the issue. What we saw with Blagojevich was terrible--but it's not much different than what happens every day in the halls of power. Until we get rid of the money, things aren't going to change.
According to the coalition:
Unfortunately, politicians like Blagojevich thrive under our current system where shakedowns for campaign cash result in favorable policies and appointments for those who can afford to give. But it is not just the apple that’s rotten. To paraphrase Blagojevich, it’s the whole [expletive] barrel. The American public has had enough. It’s time to pass and implement Clean Elections programs at both the state and federal level and allow our elected officials to do their jobs free from the corrupting campaign money chase.