But I have the solution. It's been obvious since the earliest days of television. In fact, the problem with the electoral system isn't money, it's television.
The overwhelming share of campaign money is spent on TV media time. Therefore, if you eliminate the cost of that media, the problem of disproportionate free speech is solved. . .
It would have been easy enough for Congress or the FCC to have mandated free advertising time for political messages. Every candidate, qualified in some more or less reasonable way, gets an equal amount of media time. Why not? Broadcasters would have lost money for sure, but, media being of intangible value, this giveaway would not have cost them money (what's more, this is, after all, the public's air time, or, in the case of cable, the public's franchise). How could this not have been an obvious and ideal solution for everybody but the television business?
Of course, some richies and their corporate allies might always buy more media on top of their allotted time, as Mayor Bloomberg surely would. But if the basic allotment is large enough, the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Also, everybody gets a fair chance to make their case and to raise more money on the basis of their message-rather than to raise more money on the basis of already having raised money.
Everything changes under this system. Politics now is primarily about raising money (or begging for it), but with media bills covered, financing a campaign becomes an ancillary task. The beleaguered and the cynical and those temperamentally disinclined to beg will be more apt to participate in the system. What's more, with television widely accessible, the quality of the message becomes more significant than the ubiquity.