I have also learned that the media are co-conspirators in maintaining the system - even those who supposedly stand against the 'mainstream' media's corporate messages.
I have learned that unless you start with loads of money and have loads of free time, you won't be able to run a strong, traditional campaign. It is very frustrating trying to work 40 hours a week and campaign and take care of your personal life and other responsibilities. You have to pay (dearly) to play apparently.
Even the Secretary of State puts up road blocks to third party candidates - as evidenced by the 'sometime in September' decision about which is the legitimate Reform Party in the state. Delaying the decision that long seriously hurts efforts to campaign. We will have just over a month to actually campaign after the decision.
I have learned that there are a lot of political campaign consulting companies fishing for business. They say they will run your campaign, train volunteers and campaign staff, etc. I even had one guy guarantee me to win, that he would move to the state, run the campaign and I could pay him after I was in office. Sorry, but I am not going to owe anyone anything if I win. That is one of the major problems with politics anyway - political favors.