But this is only the first step, and it will fall to the next Congress to pass more meaningful reform. Work has already started on important legislation such as the Fair Elections Now Act. There is a growing movement to amend the Constitution to restore the First Amendment to its original focus on citizens and allow for reasonable restrictions on corporations.
A recent poll commissioned by People for the American Way shows that the vast majority of the electorate — by 3-1 margins, Democrats, Republicans and Independents — would favor such an amendment if necessary.
Looking at the new Congressional class doesn’t exactly make me wildly optimistic, but I’m not without hope. If the tea party stands for anything, it is for the rights of individual citizens over big money and big business. Let’s see if they hold true to their principles.
The Democratic Party has steadily favored campaign finance reform — even when it meant requiring disclosure from pro-Democratic “527” political groups. It wasn’t that long ago that a majority of Republican Members of Congress did, too.
All it will take is a few Republicans to decide to represent the interests of their constituents — and not the interests of these shadowy outside groups — for the 2012 elections to be, if not more frugal, at least more fair.
Donna Brazile, who managed the Gore/Lieberman campaign in 2000, is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and political contributor on CNN and ABC News.