[M]any people I met asked, “What does it mean for Democrats to take the issue [of political corruption]‘seriously’?” The answer is simple: They must attack not only the headline-grabbing excesses of gifts, trips and meals, but also, more significantly, go after the core of the problem, which is the nexus of money and politics. Specifically, they must push to publicly finance all congressional elections.
I know, I know—I and other groups like Public Campaign have probably sounded like a broken record on this issue for a long time now. But that's only because the campaign financing system really is at the root of corruption. We have a system that is legalized bribery—legal campaign contributions go in, and legal legislative favors go out. But just because it is legal, doesn't mean it isn't unethical and isn't one of the major reasons why our government can no longer solve problems. It is. A government cannot solve problems if members of Congress making decisions are forced by virtue of their campaign finances to appease the Big Money interests that are often at the root of those problems. [...]
Because public financing so fundamentally threatens how business is done in Washington, it will only become reality if progressives hit the trifecta of massive grassroots/netroots pressure, support from the batch of new lawmakers who ran on an anti-corruption platform, and an infusion of star power from someone like Obama. And make no mistake about it: the latter two wild cards have no chance of happening without the grassroots component—a narrowly focused, carrot-and-stick campaign to embarrass, cajole and pressure Congress to act.
Sirota's piece is worth a full read--although local readers might want to take a deep, cleansing breath before they get to the part where he seems to have a little trouble distinguishing Portland City Councilman Eric Sten from Mayor Tom Potter.