Hillary Clinton's decision to pass on public financing in her presidential bid sparked many a declaration that the system was dead, and it's true that the efficacy of the reform intended to reduce corruption has faded over time: all the more reason to look at ways to update it for the future, before we find ourselves staring down the barrel of $1 billion dollar campaigns.
The Philadelphia Inquirer believes as we do that "[i]f presidential elections are to remain open contests of ideas and personalities, and less vulnerable to the priorities of raising boatloads of cash, the system of public financing needs to be updated."
We couldn't agree more - as Public Campaign President and CEO Nick Nyhart writes in his letter to The New York Times today (see third down): "The best hope for the public campaign financing is that leading presidential candidates pledge to upgrade the antiquated system if elected and then walk away, fast, from the current model" by implementing a new full public financing system for the presidential race on the model of the Clean Elections systems already working in states like Maine and Arizona.
In the thirty years since the post-Watergate presidential public financing system was put in place campaign spending has grown exponentially, and with it the need to fundraise far and above what the public financing system currently provides. An update is needed, one that will counter current corruption as powerfully as the original system did at its outset.