Smile Politely

Putting on the Putback Amendment

When you were young did you ever dream about growing up and making the world a better place?

Ugh, idealism. Well, pretend to entertain the notion.

Take a moment, close your eyes, and cast yourself as a world saver. Now, run with it.

Think big. Think bigger. You can abolish corrupt governments, punish evil corporations, provide affordable health care for all, even save Mother Earth. Okay.

Now, open your eyes. How does reality jibe with your vision?

Y’know, a second ago, there you were, lookin’ all bad ass, rising up like a Morlock from the deep, scaring the establishment into submission — those corporatist oligarchical lechers. You were effecting real change.

But, reality. You inhabit arguably the most corrupt state in the union. And so do your friends, neighbors, and family. This corrupt environment begets bad fiduciary practices, which themselves lead to increasing public tension through service cuts and tax increases. Our local economy, somewhat insulated by our state’s flagship university, fares little better than the rest.

“Of course there are furloughs, but at least we still have jobs”, argues our inner monologue. Unless you are unlucky enough to be a public school teacher.

But the fact remains: our state is bleeding from incompetence and corruption at the highest levels.

We citizens feel it acutely.

And no matter whom we elect to represent us, it always calibrates back to business as usual here in Illinois. If change is what we have desired, we’re getting it.

For the worse.

Every now and then all Illinois citizens, be they of progressive or conservative ilk, groan in disbelief at our sad state’s affairs. At the breakneck pace of bleak news, it’s hard not to growl. Moreover, it will get worse before it gets better; Illinois’ demography is set to increase economic pressure as aging populations will need more resources and attention in years to come.

Yep, that’s reality. It’s a Democratic reality, a Republican reality, a Green reality, a Constitutionalist reality, and an Independent reality. Here in Illinois, whatever your stripe, you’re in it up to the neck. Get used to it. It’s the human condition to be (mis)managed.



What if I told you there was a different path? Without all the pleonastic rhetoric, either. And that all you had to do was sign a piece of paper and write your address to manifest it?

Would you believe me?

Would you believe fantasy made real?

If 500,000 signatures are collected by this May 2, a new amendment to the Illinois Constitution will be put to the voting public. It is called the Putback Amendment, and is supported by citizens of every philosophic, ethnic, and economic background here in Illinois. The only prerequisite is that you be a resident of our fair state.

It is called the “Putback” Amendment because it promises to put politicians back into their rightful place: as servants.

It is designed to “withstand legal challenges that are likely to be filed to keep the amendment from ever reaching the voters.”

It has the full attention of the Illinois’ political establishment.


It would:

Enact Term Limits — Legislative terms would be limited to two years per term, and legislators would serve a maximum of four terms (eight years). The eight year maximum could be consecutive or broken up, but eight years would be the limit. It limits legislative leaders (Senate President, minority leader, committee chairs) to a maximum of two terms, or four years.

Translation: No more career politicians in Illinois.

Enact Seven-Day Public Viewing of All Legislation — This would assure lawmakers would actually read what they’re voting on, because the public would have ample opportunity to read the bills as well. It would end the practice of “shell bills” that often contain taxes and spending the public doesn’t know about until it is too late.

Translation: The death of “shell bills”. All bills in Illinois must be pass through both Houses successively. Quite often, after passage in one House they are shelved for months and quietly expanded upon at the 11th hour before being voted on in the 2nd House. Thus, most legislators vote on bills without even having read them. Thus, the pork would flieth under the radar no more.

End Gerrymandering — After the census, all data would be made public to ensure a scoring system based on objective criteria. Incumbency is explicitly disallowed, ensuring that people pick their politicians instead of politicians picking their voters. Anyone can sue based on gerrymandering instead of just the Attorney General.

Translation: Political parties would lose the power to gerrymander. Ergo, the pendulum just might swing somewhere else.

Enable Equal Ballot Access — This would end the discriminatory practice that allows some established political parties an advantage in getting on the ballot. It would remove unfair impediments to Independents and third-parties who want to run for office. Disqualification of signatures could only be based on fraud, deception, or unintelligibility — as opposed to technicalities often used by established parties to get Independent candidates thrown off the ballot.

Translation: Third parties will be serious, viable options for the voting public in the future.

But don’t trust me. Go to the website, take a look for yourself.

Download a petition, pass it around. You’ll make it 70,001 downloaded. Or, simply take a stroll to a local establishment that is collecting signatures. They’ll be available at Merry-Ann’s Diner Downtown every weekend between now and April.

You have the power to change the world for the better. Right here, in your own backyard. Go.

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