The presidential candidate for change has adopted the twin themes of "hope" and "change" for his political campaign. These themes are the creation of David Axelrod, Barack Obama's senior campaign adviser. It was a stroke of brilliance to tap into the widespread disaffection with Washington D.C. and the growing irritation among normal citizens that they have no say in their federal government. With approval ratings of the U.S Congress being around 9% (in other countries there would be an armed coup by now), the timing was perfect.
However, the same distrust and disgust are just as true with the state government of Illinois. We have a governor under multiple federal investigations, a General Assembly that can never seem to pass a budget, and political patronage happening out in the open with no regard for citizens. The gridlock in Springfield is universally despised and all other attempts to reform Illinois have failed. Change is sorely needed for Illinois.
That is why it is disappointing to see the same firm that crafted the candidate for change was just given a two to three million dollar contract to oppose a constitutional convention. Among the arguments they will make is that convening a constitutional convention will give power to all the special interests, that the constitution will be made worse, and that there is no way to elect good people to a convention. They have already gone so far as to tell seniors that a constitutional convention will take their pensions away even though federal law is clear that it can't. In short, the ads can be reduced to a sound bite: "No… you can't."
In November, voters will be able to vote to convene a constitutional convention to amend the state charter. This would allow for the ending of gerrymandering, the practice of politicians picking their voters and not vice versa (see Illinois Congressional District 4's map for an illustration of how absurd the maps have gotten). An additional change could be adding the ability of citizens to recall elected officials, a right many states currently already enjoy.