THE BLOG
04/10/2008 12:27 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

An Idea for Obama's Public Financing Quandry


Barack Obama isn't an ordinary candidate running an ordinary campaign. He has made it his mission to upend the status quo in Washington so it is not unfair to demand of him a higher standard of integrity than we ask from the other candidates. The danger of optimistic social movements, of daring the populace to hope, is that you are much more vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy.

As Andrew Romano of Newsweek reported yesterday, last September Obama checked the box on a survey stating that he would "forgo private funding in the general election." Then, he volunteered to add , "I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."

Since Obama can routinely raise upwards of $40 million a month, agreeing to a cap of $84.1 million for the entire general election no longer seemed like such a sweet deal.

His camp is now arguing that his vast network of small donors represents "a parallel public financing system." "Here it's happening naturally," David Axelrod told the New York Times today, "People are sending $5, $10, $25, $100 contributions."

Mr. Axelrod is right and he's not-so-right. How many thousands of wealthy Obama supporters have also given the maximum $2300 or even a grand?

If Obama wants to break his promise of public financing he needs to replace it with something even more inspiring. Bush had his " Pioneers" who bundled $100,000, his "Rangers" who bundled 200,000 and "Super Rangers," 300,000.

Might I humbly suggest:

"The Obama Scout"

At $100 bucks a pop.

If Obama limits himself to not accepting more than $100 from any individual for the general election he could credibly claim a parallel public financing system and just as he did with his brilliant race speech, another bold move would again demonstrate that his campaign is about overturning the politics of cynicism and fear.

Trey Ellis is the author of"Bedtime Stories: Adventures in the Land of Single-Fatherhod."