Paul Jacob

“Change”: the official buzzword of Campaign 2008. Everyone seems to be for change. Barack Obama and his supporters first shouted it as a slogan, but John McCain and his backers have long since dittoed their fondness for it.

The “why” is obvious: Both camps desire to connect with voters, who have long been denied the political change they so overwhelmingly favor. Yet, while political folks have learned to annunciate the word “change” and to use it correctly in many, many sentences, not quite everyone is really for it.

A question on Connecticut’s ballot next Tuesday makes this painfully obvious.

The question automatically appears, by constitutional mandate, on the Constitution State’s ballot every 20 years. It gives voters the opportunity to call a convention where delegates can propose amendments or revisions to the state constitution.

The question amounts to, in more simple language: Should we select delegates, and have them sit down, talk about and hopefully propose some changes?

I note that proposing actual changes certainly seems to be associated with the whole idea and motto of “change.”

So, yes indeed, Connecticut voters now consider a Yes vote. A convention to debate and write constitutional changes, changes that would then be approved or rejected by the voters, might produce the kind of reform voters desire. In instances where that is not the case, poor ideas can be rejected.

Given the alternative — the special interest-dominated legislature — those who really do want change see a convention as by far their best opportunity.

Top of the reform list for Connecticut voters is a process for direct voter initiative, like neighboring Massachusetts has — as do 23 other states, including California, Florida, Maine and Ohio. That’s smart, because initiative and referendum is the path to all kinds of other reforms like term limits, tax limitation, protections from eminent domain abuse, and much more.

Of course, voter initiative is anathema to politicians and special interests (who don’t fancy giving an inch to the general public interest) and thus it is not likely to fair so well in the state legislature.

This week, a poll conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut showed 50 percent of the state’s voters have voted or plan to vote Yes on calling a constitutional convention. With 39 percent opposed, there remain 11 percent undecided.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.