We talk a lot about the influence of money in politics. It's the defining issue of this era.
But in case you need one more reason to loathe the flood of money in politics, let me offer a different perspective. That of the politician.
It may be easy to assume that politicians love being showered in money. But here's a secret: the truth is, most of us hate it. Hate it.
Candidates almost always enter politics with high-minded notions of changing the world. But, whether their race is local, statewide or national, they have to spend hours upon hours every single day raising the money to run. You may not think that's a big deal. I'm telling you -- it's all-consuming.
Even the most jaded among you would be shocked to know how much time it takes to raise the money necessary to win an election. It's worse than you think.
On Tuesday, President Obama spent his entire day raising money at five, yes five, fundraisers. And he's the incumbent! That's a whole day that could have been spent on more important priorities, like ... well, just about anything.
But he's about to be outspent 10-to-1, so if he doesn't compete financially, he's not going to have the chance to act on those important priorities in a second term. It's tough enough for politicians to do essentially two jobs -- campaign and govern -- but in this age of billion dollar campaigns, a third job -- fundraiser -- has become completely dominant. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the candidate with the most money wins 9 out of 10 congressional races and 8 of 10 in the Senate.
It's just as bad for other candidates. I've run for office -- and won -- three times, twice as governor. But I spent hours and hours every single day and night raising the money to do it.
In my re-election, I ran against a billionaire who could vastly outspend me on his own, so I had to compete. I didn't have money. I had to fundraise. And it made me sick.
I hated every minute of fundraising. I would sit in a cheap, temporary office for hours with stacks of call sheets, dialing and begging people to donate. Friends avoided my calls. If I didn't reach my daily goal, I pulled overtime -- at a tiny desk with one of those thermometer charts tracking my progress. And as a sitting governor, like all governors, believe me - -I really did have better things to do.
That's what killed me. I so wanted to do my job as governor. That's what people elected me to do. But as my fundraising people reminded me, over and over again: you won't be able to do that job unless you raise the money.
And believe me: I am certainly not alone in this story.
My experiences all took place before Citizens United. I can't even imagine how much worse the pressures are now. That case has corrupted our political system, so our politics is no longer about doing the will of the people, it's about raising the money from some of the people.
There just isn't time to do anything else. You can see why so many good men and women are no longer willing to serve in elected office.
This isn't a partisan issue -- this is a national crisis. And the fix to get money out of politics is clear: we need to amend our constitution to save our democracy.