Cleaning out my inbox, I’ve just deleted about 40 fundraising emails — roughly 10 from each candidate in the Georgia Senate run-off, and that was just for today. Georgia spoils the hope of a post-election quiet period on ads and claims and pleas.

One factoid caught my eye: $400 million has been spent on this race already, and that may be a low estimate. Political spending right now is out of control.

Maine’s last Senate race cost more than $100 million. The drinking-out-of-a-fire-hose aspect of the spending was such that challenger Sara Gideon still had $14 million on hand when it was all over — a nice problem to have. There are only so many things a campaign can spend money on and once it hits all the saturation points, the excess can seem almost silly.  Unless it comes at a time when people are struggling to survive, in which case it seems obscene.

In both Georgia and Maine, most of the money — on both sides — was from out-of-state. If we’re going to forbid foreigners from contributing to U.S. politicians, how is it better that we allow gobs of money to pour in from California, swamping the marketplace and limiting access to the public square for independent voices?

OK, maybe that’s an extreme analogy, but you get my point. Letting people from away pick leaders doesn’t seem right.

Together with carpet-bagging by Venmo, there’s another problem with money in American politics today: quantity does not always correlate to quality. Hillary Clinton out-spent Trump in 2016 by a near 10:1 ratio. Michael Bloomberg spent $1 billion earlier this year to win only American Samoa in the Democrat primary. After a record-setting $14 billion was spent on campaigns overall this year (twice 2016’s total), the needle didn’t really move all that much.

Capping spending has proven constitutionally problematic. In the landmark 2010 decision in Citizens United v. the FEC, the Supreme Court dismantled the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, which set limits and barred “soft money,” or the bottomless slush funds political parties could draw on to elect their own.

Spending limits challenge the very principle of free, opponents of caps have long claimed. In Citizens United, corporate personhood opened the door to the creation of Super PACs, like the ones that dumped most of the money into our last election.

I remember the 2001 Senate floor debate for McCain-Feingold. In his double-breasted pinstripe suit, Mitch McConnell literally dressed the part as mobster in order to fight the bill tooth and nail. He lost that battle, but won the war.

What majority leader in waiting would ever voluntarily give up future resources? Immediately after the bill was signed into law, McConnell sued the FEC over the soft money restrictions, but narrowly lost. A turtle may be slow, but he can also be determined. Will anyone take up the issue again, as McCain did the year after his first loss of the presidency?

If corporations can be people, politicians can try to be corporations. Like corporations, they are accountable to shareholders. The problem is that the New York hedge fund guy will always outrank you or me in the boardroom.

The reason I’m inundated with all these emails is because, in 2016, I gave small amounts to almost every Republican who looked like they had a chance of beating Trump, and I’ve signed up for Democratic political mail just for competitive intelligence, yet they haven’t been shy about squeezing me either. Despite the uptick in individual voters in recent years, our symbolic efforts give us no voice.

This requires looking even further back than McCain to another great Republican, Theodore Roosevelt. In breaking up the trusts, he scored a victory for America’s free markets.

Today, maybe someone should break up the crooked cabals that offer us lousy choices of candidates and spend both our money and everyone else’s ineffectively. People should be free to waste money hand over fist if they are rich or dumb enough to be able to do so, but when it comes to electoral democracy, their activity shouldn’t crowd everyone else from the table.

Public financing is not the answer, but some regulation on the aperture of the fire hose’s nozzle might be. After this ugly, dispiriting season in politics, there could be no better moment for reform.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.