Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have bemoaned the corrosive power of money in our political system, albeit through varying campaign styles and word choices. But that statement came from someone else. Someone most Americans have never heard of.
I want to find out how other countries are fighting for democracy against its corruption by powerful private interests. My learning began in a conversation with Secretary General Yves Leterme of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), a Stockholm-based organization of 28 member states.
Only three candidates are willing to say that the system is corrupt: Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Lawrence Lessig. But Trump has no solution to the problem, while the other two do.
Donald Trump has received the highest negative ratings from the American people of any presidential candidate running in 2016. This does not exactly make him a credible messenger for advancing the cause of campaign finance reform.
I get the appeal in blaming Republicans. I understand the attraction in good vs. evil stories. I see the strength in the partisan rally. I get it's a great strategy for winning elections. But it is not a strategy for governing. We won't have a functioning government until we create a functioning democracy.
A recent analysis shows that the country's Black population is almost entirely unrepresented within the political donor class. Not a single Black person was listed as one of the top 200 political contributors, and only one was among the top 500 contributors.
Invoking the ghost of Eugene McCarthy, Harvard law professor Larry Lessig has announced that he will run for president as a single-issue candidate. Just as McCarthy, in 1968, "made the Vietnam War an issue," Lessig will campaign on a platform solely dedicated to campaign finance reforms.
Business isn't simple; foreign policy isn't either. If Trump wants to be taken seriously by the general electorate, he should demonstrate the nuanced understanding of foreign policy exemplified by candidates ranging from Jeb Bush to Hillary Clinton.
If Trumps words are "shockingly insightful" it is only because people have not been paying attention. The shocking part is that a majority of Supreme Court justices still seems to be unwilling to acknowledge that our nation's capital is plagued by a systemic corruption that is rooted in money.
While the country is almost evenly split between Republican and Democratic campaign donations, the picture is more lopsided when super PACs are considered.
Even though the Clinton campaign has certainly been aware of the significant and passionate left-wing populism within the Democratic Party, the campaign has merely underestimated and, for far too long, sidelined the substantial and growing support of Bernie Sanders.
If Mr. Trump is to have any chance to build support beyond his xenophobic base, he should embrace his born again moment as a reformed big money donor.
Calls for greater equality are all the rage among many candidates for the highest office in the land. For Lawrence Lessig, a widely admired advocate for campaign finance reform who just threw his hat in the ring, "citizen equality" is what matters.
The Harvard Professor likens his candidacy to that of Eugene McCarthy, who turned the Vietnam War into the central issue of the 1968. Today, 80 percent of Americans say there's too much money in politics but less than 1 percent say that it is the most important issue they consider when voting
We need to be mindful that Donald Trump, in his brash, crass, bloviating style managed to get to the heart of the crisis eating away at American politics. He is no reformer. He is the problem, and not the solution.
Unfortunately, too few of our elected officials and candidates are talking about race, too few are championing an awakening of our humanity, too few are willing to take on the systemic challenges of our country. Presidential candidates aren't going to be able to hide from this issue for long.