Trump’s truth-telling aside (if that’s what it is), this premise is much shakier and polarizing than political rhetoric often makes it seem. Can money be separated from politics?
The answer to that is almost certainly no. At their core, democratic elections are a battle of personalities and ideas, and the only way to inform voters about their choices in an election is make sure that the messages of candidates reach them. And just about any way you cut it, that’s going to cost money—whether it’s to pay for advertising, to set up and run a website, to hire people as staffers, or to hold rallies or events that the media will cover. Campaigns for local office can often be run on the cheap. Candidates rely on volunteers to run their campaigns and on social media, rather than paid advertising, to spread their message. But they're never totally free.
The Holy Grail for many campaign-finance reformers is publicly-funded elections, but even in cities and states that have them currently, most are based on matching funds, which requires candidates to raise a minimum amount of money to demonstrate viability. And proposals for public funding of elections in Congress don’t totally eliminate private donations, either.
So that leads us to a second question: If we could separate money from politics, should we? This is really the fundamental divide over campaign financing in the United States. The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was based on the principle—long shared by conservatives—that campaign contributions are a form of political speech protected by the First Amendment. And to the dismay of most Democrats, the Citizens United ruling extended those protections not just to individuals but to corporations (and labor unions), leading critics to charge that the Supreme Court had decreed that corporations were effectively the same as people.
Whatever the interpretation, the ruling inarguably allowed wealthy individuals, businesses, and other groups to use money to influence elections with more freedom than they had before.
If Citizens United was so pivotal in aggravating the problem, the Supreme Court should overturn it. The ruling misinterpreted the First Amendment as a protection of money in politics, and it conflated corporations with individuals in a way that opened the floodgates for companies to spend millions—or even billions—to influence elections.
What precedent is there for the Court to reverse itself so quickly and dramatically?
Right now there's a vacancy on the Supreme Court, and whoever replaces the late Justice Antonin Scalia could determine the fate of Citizens United. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have pledged to appoint someone who would overturn the 2010 ruling, and while that’s a litmus test that President Obama hasn’t explicitly endorsed, it’s unlikely that anyone he nominates will win confirmation by the Republican-led Senate. The GOP presidential candidates, by contrast, are pledging to appoint a justice in the mold of Scalia, who voted in support of Citizens United. Still, even if a Democratic president decides Scalia’s replacement, the decision is now a precedent of the high court, and there’s no guarantee the justices will revisit the case—or a similar challenge—in the immediate future.