As a result of recent US Supreme Court rulings, rich people now have vastly greater freedom to contribute money to political campaigns and to candidates. It has now become possible for a single wealthy individual to bankroll a candidate for president and there are people like Sheldon Adelson who have made no secret of their intention to buy a candidate in this way. Maybe we will soon have a system in which wealthy people buy and sell and trade political parties and candidates the way they do now with professional sports teams and players. The candidates could wear clothing displaying the logos of their funders, like in NASCAR.
Most campaign reform advocates seek to try and curb the amount of money in elections but Lawrence Lessig thinks that the way to counter a few people who have lots of money is to create a system that enables many people to each contribute a little money so as to fight the wallets of the rich to at least a draw.
And if we accepted the responsibility of funding our elections through systems supporting small dollar donations — if all of us were relevant participants in the process — that would radically change the way in which policy in Washington is made. And that change is completely constitutional, even with this Supreme Court. There’s nothing the Supreme Court has said that would invalidate, for example, a voluntary voucher system where everybody had a $50 or $100 dollar voucher, which they could give to candidates who voluntarily opted into a system of small dollar contributions. This Court has again and again indicated that kind of reform is perfectly constitutional.
About 100 million people vote in elections in presidential years. If each had $100 to contribute, that would be $10 billion, enough to enable candidates to focus on a message that appeals to most voters rather that having to craft one that appeals to just rich people.