The solution must come from the grassroots -- it can't be imposed from above by reform-minded members of Congress.
At a talk at UCLA last month, I said that America's growing anti-corruption movement needs to think big, not puny. That we need a fundamental change in the way America funds its campaigns, and that it will take a cross-partisan grassroots movement of outsiders to get the insiders in D.C. to embrace that change.
To kickstart that grassroots movement, I said, Congress needs a chance to innovate. This should be a time when different ideas are encouraged and tested. Which ideas will spark the energy of citizens across the country? Which can speak to citizens from across the political spectrum?
We've already seen a wide range of important new proposals. The Brennan Center and Democracy 21, led by the dean of campaign finance reform, Fred Wertheimer, has proposed a 5-to-1 match for contributions up to $250, now introduced as a bill by Reps. David Price (D-N.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland). In 2010, the Democratic House came close to passing the Fair Elections Now Act, which was in effect a 9 to 1 match. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Maryland) has proposed a much more ambitious 10-to-1 match for grassroots-funded candidates, plus a tax credit to inspire even more small-dollar contributors. And just last month, Represent.US launched the American Anti-Corruption Act, crafted by Stephen Colbert's super PAC lawyer, Trevor Potter. If passed, the act would be the most ambitious political-reform proposal in a century.