Michael Waldman

Michael Waldman is executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, a nonpartisan law and policy institute that focuses on fundamental issues of democracy and justice. He was White House Director of Speechwriting from 1995 to 1999.

Recent Articles

Minimizing Special-Interest Power by Maximizing Participation

Fighting back against restrictive voting-rights laws and empowering small donors can help reclaim elections.

This is a dark time for those who worry about big money’s outsized role in American politics. Radical Supreme Court rulings, a comatose Federal Elections Commission, and ever more shameless political operatives have obliterated the campaign-law edifice that stood shakily for four decades. The 2012 race will be dominated by secret funds, unlimited special-interest gifts, and massive independent expenditures. Expect corruption not seen since Watergate. Will all this stir a backlash? Perhaps. I am more skeptical than many that the current mood of disquiet will translate into a reform moment. What can we do to tip toward positive change? Yes, we need to organize—lobby better in D.C., rabble rouse better in the countryside. And assuredly we must mount a long-term legal drive to overturn Citizens United. But these things are not enough. Let’s face it: Campaign-finance reformers have not engaged in serious rethinking in decades. We need a revitalization of policy goals as well. A compelling...

Behind the Numbers: Tilt!

In the final weeks of the 1968 election, Hubert H. Humphrey was closing in on Richard Nixon. Supporters of George Wallace's third-party campaign were returning to the Democratic fold, and Humphrey was winning renewed support from liberals after calling for a bombing halt in Vietnam. It seemed Humphrey might have a chance. Except for one problem: Humphrey was broke. Lyndon Johnson controlled hundreds of thousands of dollars in a "President's Fund," but he wouldn't release them for his vice president. Humphrey couldn't even afford to run television commercials until a few weeks before the election. The Nixon campaign, by contrast, was lavishly funded. While many factors hurt the Democrats that awful year—Vietnam, urban riots, the raucous Chicago convention—it is clear that if Humphrey (who ended up losing by just 1 percent of the vote) had even come close to matching Nixon's financial resources, the Democrat could have won the election. Since then, no presidential contest has been...