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Proposed Amendments

chuck kottke

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Move to Amends Amendment Sketch Points:

1.) Firmly establish that money is not free speech and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

2.) Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.

3.) Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate "preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments.

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2.) Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.


Hence, the right to fair elections.

The times we are living in call for real reform measures, guaranteeing in plain language our right to a fair elections process and equality of candidate dialog with the electorate, as well as fair and open debates between candidates in the public square of the day, uninfluenced by a set of wealthy elites. No more crumbs to the birds while the lords of commerce grow fat off the backs of the workers. What we need is something clear, something unambiguously written, something which cannot be ignored and to which any politician who tries to circumvent this rule immediately becomes the focus of attention and scrutiny by the voting public.

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Tilting at Windmills, occasionally with success.


I have been patient with the Justices, they've had a good week to respond, but since their replies are so slow in coming, I think it's only fitting that I post one such letter, one to Justice Ginsburg here for all to read:


Dear Justice Ginsburg,

I am seeking your opinion concerning writing a draft amendment to the United States Constitution. I believe all citizens have a right to fair elections and to fair campaign processes, and I am deeply concerned that this right is being ignored. In an attempt to assert and restore the right to fair elections for our nation's sake, I am hoping to word this proposed amendment in a manner which is fair, sound, effective, and lasting in its protections of that right. Please offer me your opinion and suggestions regarding this draft amendment defining our right to fair elections. Below are two wordings I have thus far come up with:

Draft Amendment, first wording:

The right of the citizens to fair elections, the right through which all other rights are preserved, shall be protected and enhanced, and equal access to and equal time on the common broadcast mediums of the day guaranteed for all qualifying candidates. Congress shall determine allowable funding levels and limits for political campaigns, and shall have the power to enforce this amendment through appropriate legislation.

Draft Amendment, second wording:

The right to fair elections, the right through which all other rights are protected, shall be guaranteed, including equal access to, equal funding for, and equal time on the broadcast commons for all qualifying candidates running for a particular public office. Congress shall determine campaign funding amounts allowed, and shall have the power to regulate campaigns and enforce this amendment through appropriate legislation.

If you notice any flaws or caveats, or see any omissions, please suggest the improvements you would make to this draft.

With Great Sincerity,

Chuck Kottke

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  • 1 month later...

Occupy Wall Street ties directly into this - it is the buying of elections which allowed Wall Street's worst behaviors to be permitted and sanctioned, and allowed plundering plutocrats to amass greater wealth by breaking the lives of many normal Americans, disrupting the stability of the global economy, disregarding ecological and social concerns cause by policies enacted by the influence peddling and revolving doors between Wall Street, K Street, and the US Government's heads. Our main stream press has become little more than lap dogs to the elites, servants of those whom they should be investigating and exposing for the crimes of the century they have committed - through the corporate complicit behaviors and overlapping ownership issues, because their ownership demands absolute loyalty, wields gargantuan power, and the marketing department has taken over what used to be thriving departments of journalistic research and integrity, which did reporting of truth not spin - digging deep into the matters of concern, and pursuing doggedly those who seek to hide the truth. Orwell saw it coming, now we must follow Winston Smith's undying belief in Human Nature and the Human Spirit, to right the ship and restore fairness to our institutions.

This government is a government of, by, and for We the People, it is time to take back what it rightly ours.

More than two centuries ago, James Madison feared that listing rights in the Bill of Rights would diminish all the other rights retained by the people. Others argued that without listing our basic rights, we would loose them all - so powerful was the demand for the inclusion of a Bill of Rights, that it was an absolute prerequisite to passing the U.S. Constitution. But it didn't go far enough, and throughout time it has become essential that we make clear our natural rights, for what is written clearly is undeniable to we citizens, and provides a light which cannot be dimmed or ignored.

Underpinning it all is the essential right to fair elections, for without fair elections, all rights listed have no protection and the protections for which democratic government is designed to provide cease to exist. If the growth of the middle class is essential for a healthy democracy, how can the middle class grow when a few wealthy elites control the elections and rig the economy? If a free and independent media is essential as the fourth estate, as a protection against tyranny by exposing the truth and offering a diversity of opinions, how can this independent media flourish if the government is in the hands of an ever-consolidating corporate media machine? What is the point of free speech protections, when only the voices of a wealthy few are ever allowed to be heard, save for the lone orator in a cafe or on a street corner or on a social web forum?

Now is the time when real reform is essential, when penning our basic right to honest government through honest and fair elections must become the center hub around which we turn our democracy around.

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Can social media really provide the pathway to better campaigns and an end to the buying of air time with resulting election wins by the candidates with the best social media skills? Jeffrey Sachs thinks so, that the era of campaigns on TV is over, it's a bust. I'm not so sure though - if it didn't work, then why does anyone buy the ad time? Hm, for the average swing voter who decides just before an election, I'm pretty skeptical.. Here's what Sachs had to say: Jeffrey Sachs Sings the Praises of Occupy Wall Street | AlterNet

..it is possible for a candidate to get elected without taking all those corporate bucks, but one or two isn't going to change congress much.

I still think the ease with which TV ads seep into the mind makes them effective and watchers are where most citizens are at, trying to judge candidates by how they feel about them, not based on records and funding sources, or how well they work with others..

I still think we must create the space for all qualifying candidates to have equal access to the most common broadcast mediums of the day - the modern public square, because we see and feel the results of what happens when the money behind the candidates gets its way, and that cash is flowing like water into the media machine right now.

Move to Amend!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Amendments do one thing, even if they are ignored or misinterpreted: they provide a touchstone, that is a standard or criterion by which something is judged or recognized.

If we are brave enough to have created a nation based on the rights of man, then we must be brave enough to stand up for an inclusion of the right to fair elections, for elections are not contests like horse races, they are the means by which we choose representation, the manner through which we govern ourselves.



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Tom Udall introduces an amendment to allow congress and the states to regulate campaign spending: c/o Huffington Post Citizens United Going Down? Democrats Introduce Constitutional Amendment To Overturn Ruling

"The amendment has three main focuses: to authorize Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal political campaign contributions and expenditures (including independent expenditures), to allow states to regulate that raising and spending at their level, and to permit Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that could withstand constitutional challenges. It does not specify what the reforms should be."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here is Russell Simmons Proposed Amendment:

Section 1. All elections for President and members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be publicly financed. No political contributions shall be permitted to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. No political expenditures shall be permitted in support of any federal candidate, or in opposition to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press


Section 2. The Congress shall, by statute, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds and provide criminal penalties for any violation of this Section.


Section 3. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation


Section 4.This article shall be inoperative unless it is ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution.


Please take a look at his site for more on this proposal - it's a bold proposition, but we're in times where we need bold propositions! Russell Simmons – Constitutional Amendment for the Public Financing of Federal Elections Lyrics | Rap Genius

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Here is US Representative Ted Deutch's Proposed Amendment:


Section 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests under the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.


Section 2. Such corporate and other private entities established under law are subject to regulation by the people through the legislative process so long as such regulations are consistent with the powers of Congress and the States and do not limit the freedom of the press.


Section 3. Such corporate and other private entities shall be prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people.


Section 4. Congress and the States shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate's own spending and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures.


DEUTCH_036_xml.pdf (application/pdf Object)


Deutch amendment to overturn Citizens United introduced, Report on grassroots organizing parties for January 21 Day of Action « CitizenVox

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  • 1 month later...

"Congress and the States shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate's own spending and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures."

>>Clearly, this is the core matter, the power to regulate and limit election contributions is the central issue, someone has to reign in the buying of elected officials, and make our vote count!

The right to fair elections, the right by which honest governance and thus protections for all other rights we possess, is safeguarded by fair and regulated candidate financing.

As this next election season heats up, keep you eyes on the prize - our voices will be heard when our candidates work for all of us. Campaign equity is the remedy.

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As Henry David Thoreau wrote, "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." This is where we stand today; the problem is in the essential framework, or lack of it, in our political system.

And an excellent place to start examining the problem as a whole and then dealing with it in a coordinated fashion is through the lens of what Lawrence Lessig has to say about it: Lawrence Lessig on How We Lost Our Democracy | Lawrence Lessig | Rolling Stone


A good quote; let's believe in ourselves, in our ability to make real change happen: "In the end, the people always win" ~ Ralph Nader

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  • 2 weeks later...

Amending the U.S. Constitution: suggested thoughts, proposals, ideas, considerations; to summarize, an outline:


1.) Declare and define our right to fair candidate contests for office and fair elections as essential for honest government, and thus for protections of all rights we hold dear. Before all else, this right takes precedent.

2.) Limit campaign contributions from any individual to no more than a level affordable to the broad majority of citizens. For instance, 1/2 of 1% of the median income level as determined using census or revenue figures. Make it clear that only live human beings can be considered citizens - not corporations, nor groups of any sort.

3.) Put a citizen's panel in charge of the debates. Use a random selection of citizens charged with this duty to oversee the debates, keep open the questions so a broad spectrum of the voting public's concerns are addressed.

4.) Open up the debates to all qualifying candidates garnering a reasonable level of public interest; for example, 1% of a given constituency may be a sufficient level for anyone seeking office to obtain in support, in order for their candidacy to be considered salient and worthy of entering the debates. In other words, a reasonable threshold, but not so stringent as to block entrants the public may desire.

5.) Set reasonable term limits. Enough to permit a representative of the people time to become familiar with office and to do their duties, but not so much that the dangers of them becoming entrenched power-brokers becomes a real possibility.

6.) Open up the airwaves to all qualified candidates on an equal basis, for in selecting representation, all candidates should be heard equally and equally well.

7.) Place a citizens representative between lobbyists and elected officials, to check any potential conflicts of interest, and to protect our rights as citizens to honest government., and to have a full accounting of those exchanges.

8.) State clearly that no outgoing representative of the people be allowed to enter into lobbying or consulting with present representatives; the conflicts of interest seen today, with all their negative impacts on our government, must be addressed, and the need to fix this problem is as urgent as ever.

9.) Create a department of the future, to better understand where we are headed, and to better prepare for that future.

10.) Create a public commission, with members chosen from the general public, to periodically review all corporate charters and determine if they are beneficial to all stakeholders in society, and then make a determination on the question of renewal for each charter.

11.) Place clear ownership limits on industries and companies, so that the amassment of ownership in the hands of a few doesn't again occur, owing to the dangers from abuse of power and corruption that go with such concentrated ownership.


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1.) Our rights will only be protected if those elected are beholden to we, the people. For financially, those representing us will truly only do so when their bases of support are very broad, in essence when the majority of citizens are the foundation upon which their candidacy is based, then they will do the will of we, the people when elected.

2.) Limiting contributions is an effective way of ensuring a more even support base, where all contributors count, and no small group of super-wealthy contributors getting preferential control over what that candidate does when in office.

3.) Placing a citizen's panel in charge of debates ensures no horse-trading away of tough questions, and opens the debates to questions more in tune with what the public's interests are.

4.) Opening up the debates to all qualifying candidates ensures that a wide range of choices and ideas are represented; this opens up new possibilities to voters.

5.) Term limits prevents a monopolization of power in any branch of government.

6.) Equality of airtime for candidate messages is essential, since we are selecting representation, not soap. By honesty, merit, ideas, record, ability to work well with others, and real character shall we determine our representatives, not by dissing opponents, advertised familiarity, emotional appeal, or ability to dominate the airwaves.

>> All candidate messages then must meet the approval of a citizen's panel before airing, to determine their honesty and accuracy.

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  • 10 months later...

Article I. Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States shall include that Congress shall have the power to provide for organizing, staffing, and appropriating money for a department of Peace.

Peace on Earth and Good Will to All Humankind.:santa2::hat:


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Our libel laws need changing, possibly removing completely to prevent us being a laughing stock and the country where the filthy rich come to silence truth and the phoney's make the scientists kneel. And a whole load of laws to provide equal rights to homosexuals and women.

I agree - seems that libel doesn't even exist here, a good point, and one that could change the nature of the election exchanges, so that slanderous and libelous communications are not allowed to pass right by - that would really help! I will compose further then..;) I have a friend who narrowly lost his bid for office because his opponent slandered him - he won the court case ( a settlement actually), but the election results put his opponent into office based on false acusations..:thinking:

Equal rights for all, seems the way we need to go! I often wonder if by making a legal form for marriage we're making a mistake - better to call any beneficial arrangement between people a partnership under the law and leave marriage as a separate arrangement as per one's own religious traditions indicate - a truer separation of church and state.

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  • 2 months later...

Emma, I sense what you sense, gun violence in the US is horrifying, wish we could end the violence. But guns are so much a part of our country's mythology, the best we can hope for is limiting the harm done through other means. How best to do that is the question - more jobs, improvements, and self-esteem for those in rough places, economic justice, healthier families and communities, locked and bolted cases required for guns in homes, consistent help for veterans going through psychological and physical difficulties, education on safety. What do you think would reduce the violence?

I think the 2nd amendment was written in a different state of mind from a different age - it probably means that able-bodied men, who already had access to guns and swords, were expected to participate in State's militias to defend the states against an all-powerful central government (ie - the fear of a king or tyrant taking control again), and to protect the 'frontier settlers' from 'warring tribes', and to defend the contiguous states from foreign invasions in emergencies. So we're saddled with a document written for the 1700's, and it's pretty inflexible in being changed to suit the times; perhaps the answer is to add a path to citizen amendment?

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I started thinking about the 4th branch of government; that would be us!:) The final check and balance resides with we, the people, and I think that's how we can fix our government. After a good deal of thought, here's a bit of composition which came to mind:


Article (ii)

Congress shall be required to create and provide for citizen's panels, comprised of citizens selected randomly from the general citizenry, all willing citizens chosen tasked with investigating and reporting any improprieties to the general body of Congress, the Judiciary, and to the Citizens regarding the specific Constitutionally defined tasks to which they are assigned. All chosen members of citizen's panels shall be required to take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution and to the People, be justly compensated, and be held accountable to their assigned tasks.

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So, in application of citizen's panels, we might want to add amendments to oversee elections, lobbying, trade, and the like.

For example:

Article (iii)

Section 1.

The right to fair elections, the right to fair candidate races for office, a right by which all other rights are protected shall be preserved and enhanced, and campaign processes overseen by citizen's panels, with full funding guaranteed for this measure by act of Congress.

>Since being specific is important lest things are misinterpreted:

Section 2.

Campaign donations to a given candidate made during a given candidate's campaign for office, made in any form, shall not exceed 1/100th of the median individual income level, as determined yearly using individual income figures, and shall be limited to one donation from each individual citizen per candidate per election cycle. Only real live Citizens shall be allowed to donate to candidate campaigns.

> and to corral the problem of end-runs:

Section 3.

Any paid candidate message, either in support of or in opposition to a candidate for office, shall be paid for from the pertinent candidate's campaign funds, with oversight by citizen's panels charged with pre-screening each message regarding accuracy and accountability.


> plus the final touch, to ensure real activation of the amendment:

Section 4.

The Congress shall have the power and duty to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


This presupposes that Congress will follow what is written as intended, but the clearer the amendment, the less wiggle room for our 'wiley' elected officials. The natural progression over time in any nation is to get more specific in the Constitution, I think that's what we must do in our gradual progression..

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have an amendment I'd like to add...


Congress' pay will be directly reflective of their approval rating. So if the country is not going in the right direction or if people are dissatisfied then their pay will decrease. So if the approval rating is 14%, they make 14,000 a year. This way they'll be more than sure to work for the people rather than special interests

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