The multi-billion-dollar question on debate night

As we look forward to the third and final debate between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, we at Issue One are asking ourselves: will they finally debate democracy?

“The multi-billion dollar question that remains unasked—and unanswered—is ‘how does the next president plan to address the access-and-influence system that has come to dominate our government?’” said Meredith McGehee, Issue One’s chief of policy, programs and strategy. “The American people have heard the candidates’ positions on the economy, healthcare and foreign policy; tonight we should hear what they will do to clean up Washington.”

Both candidates have staked out positions related to reducing the influence of money in politics, but they have not talked at length in the debates about their plans. In the second debate, Secretary Clinton said she wanted the Supreme Court to “reverse Citizens United and get dark, unaccountable money out of our politics.” On her website, Secretary Clinton focuses her proposals on campaign funding, with a position paper promising Supreme Court appointments that support a reformed jurisprudence; policy proposals that would encourage and amplify contributions by small donors; and plans to bring unaccountable “dark” campaign money out of the shadows and to improve campaign law enforcement.

Mr. Trump in turn expressed pride both in the number of small donations he has received and the millions of dollars of his own money he has spent on his campaign. Recently, Mr. Trump’s campaign released a five-point “ethics reform” plan focused on lobbying rules, and frequently refers to a political system “rigged” to serve the interests of corporations and the wealthy.

These quick references, however, fail to do justice to an issue rated by Americans as one of the top five most important issues influencing their vote this November, according to an Issue One-Ipsos national poll conducted in June of 2016.

The third presidential debate is the perfect place to have a more robust discussion of how the candidates’ policies will change Washington for the better.