The Measure of the Man

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Republican presidential candidate John McCain is hinting at the possibility of opting in to the presidential public financing program for the primary election, triggering debate over whether opting in (and perhaps standing at a significant financial disadvantage compared to some rivals) proves the continued relevance of the public financing program, or is a signal of a dying campaign.

With 17 candidates currently declared in the presidential race, money is tight across the map. McCain has struggled to bring in big checks -- perhaps not surprising given his reputation as a campaign finance watchdog.

However predictable the narrative that opting in=faltering campaign might be, it's still disheartening. How healthy is our electoral process when we equate the strength of a campaign with the candidate's ability to appeal to big donors? Is it preferable to sequester candidates with a phone and a list of wealthy donors and use their success in this single arena as a barometer of their strength, or should we develop a sustainable public financing program that gets candidates off the phone and into...public?