Scandal!

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"Scandal!"

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John McCain on Barack Obama’s fundraising success: “I’m saying that history shows us where unlimited amounts of money are in political campaigns, it leads to scandal.”

I’m a supporter of full public financing of political campaigns. I can only hope that John McCain’s experience of getting pummeled at fundraising will lead him to join that cause. For years, though, McCain’s been opposed to that kind of far-reaching reform, thinking that the only good kind of campaign finance reform is the kind that’s predicted to give the Republican Party an edge.

Meanwhile, I’m a little bit confused about the prospects for corruption here. In September, Barack Obama raised about $150,000,000. His average donor gave him $86 or 0.0000573 percent of the total. The maximum contribution anyone could have given him was $2,300 which comes out to 0.00092 percent of the total September haul. Someone responsible for 0.00092 percent of Obama’s total warchest doesn’t have any meaningful levers of influence over Obama. The nature of a huge haul from a giant pool of donors is that there’s no real prospect for corruption.

I think you could fairly say that issues of corruption aside, the Obama Method is still troubling insofar as it involves a systematic class bias in favor of politicians who appeal to the kind of people likely to make campaign contributions — i.e., relatively prosperous people. Of course this problem also applies to the way McCain is financing his campaign. The only solution would be full public financing of campaigns. Which would be a good idea. But it’s an idea McCain has long opposed.

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