It's the Small Change We Should Believe In

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2009 2:16 PM CST
Barack Obama at a rally during the campaign.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The 2008 election marked the death knell of post-Watergate public financing, Mark Schmitt writes for the American Prospect, but the raft of small donations that killed the system heralds a hopeful future. The public financing system was designed—and failed—to limit the influence of special interests: “Since the ability to organize was distributed unequally, regulating organizing was essential to equality.” But the emergence of the Internet allowed small donors to organize with a powerful voice.

“Money, positive engagement with politics and government, and participation can, in certain circumstances, form a virtuous circle,” Schmitt writes. The challenge now is to institutionalize that insight “into a real system that works for voters and all candidates.” Encouraging candidates and donors to give through tax breaks and matching funds would “build on healthy trends in our politics rather than continuing the futile quest to build a wall against unhealthy trends.”