Republican politicos say that taking unlimited sums of campaign cash from corporations and billionaires is the American way, claiming that money is "free" speech.
Democrats disagree, but say they can't unilaterally disarm, so they join the ever-escalating arms race for fat-cat money. Is politics of, by and for moneyed interests the only way?
Not for a candidate of real substance, offering ideas that actually appeal to workaday people, and even making them excited enough to become involved in the grassroots work of building democracy — including putting in small bits of their own money.
"That's populist poppycock," squawk the political pros, "impossible in the real world."
Well, welcome to Bernie's world. Bernie Sanders, the unabashedly progressive senator from Vermont, is running an all-out people's campaign in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination.
He's proposing a bold agenda for change, calling it a revolution "to rebuild our middle class, reclaim our democracy, and save our planet."
To the shock of the political know-it-alls who'd dismissed him as a non-contender, Sanders is catching on big-time.
With straight talk and rejection of politics as usual, he's drawing huge crowds, generating a groundswell of enthusiasm that other candidates can only dream about, and moving up in the polls as more people learn about him.
Even more shocking to the cognoscenti, Bernie is raising serious money for his campaign — more than $15 million in only three months. More impressive than the amount, Sanders notes that "we did it the right way."
No billionaires, SuperPACs or dark money. Instead, more than 99 percent of his funding is coming from people giving under $250. Indeed, the average donation is just $33.
For more information on this un-corporatized presidential campaign, go to BernieSanders.com.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.