Campaign-Finance Reform Has to Be Cross-Partisan

Democrats love to talk about cutting the influence of money in politics, but are they actually any more eager to fix it than Republicans?


The single central flaw in American democracy today is not the speech within elections—not how much or how nasty or by whom. The single central flaw is the fundraising. America has outsourced the funding of campaigns to the tiniest fraction of the 1 percent. That tiny fraction then leverages its power to enormous effect. It turns otherwise conservative Republicans into “crony capitalists”—the tag David Brat successfully attached to Eric Cantor. It turns otherwise progressive Democrats into the “tools of Wall Street”—think Clinton-led deregulation in the 1990s. Bending goes both ways, pushing the principles on both the right and left off the table. The reality of the need to fundraise is the reality of everything in D.C. And thus it is no surprise that the largest empirical study of policy decisions ever in the history of political science finds a government responsive to the wants of the “economic elite” and “business interests,” but finds “average citizens … have little or no independent influence.”

– Lawrence Lessig


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