Nick Tomboulides: Check your privilege. Hi, I’m Nick Tomboulides and welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits Movement for the week of December 23rd, 2019.
Speaker 2: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Nick Tomboulides: Merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah from all of us here at US Term Limits. Right now, America is at a bit of a crossroads. The president has been impeached. What impact, if any, does that have on our movement? Also, citizens of a Chicago suburb battle entrenched politicians over their right to enact term limits. And of course, elected officials in Michigan are feeling very privileged these days and still scheming to take advantage of voters. Phil Blumel is off this week. He has flown to Prague, so I am your consolation prize. Let’s get started.
Nick Tomboulides: The big news of course is that Donald Trump, president of the United States, 45th president, has been impeached. I believe this is the government equivalent of your teacher giving you a scolding, but not expelling you from school. He gets to stay in office and it’s likely he will stay because the Senate is controlled by Republicans, who will probably never vote to remove him. There were two charges involved in this. The first one was abuse of power and the second was obstruction of Congress.
Nick Tomboulides: That last one, obstruction of Congress, it sounds like it could be my job description. It almost sounds laudable. If this organization weren’t called US Term Limits, a fine alternative might be Obstruction of Congress. I know personally when I go to the ballot box, I try to vote for candidates who promise to obstruct Congress, so that one is a little strange.
Nick Tomboulides: Anyway, both of these paths with all Republicans opposed and nearly all Democrats in favor, one of the Democrats who opposed it is changing parties, Representative Jeff Van Drew from New Jersey. I’m not going to comment on the charges, but my take on this was, wow, look how divided we are as a country. Republicans and Democrats in Congress are further apart than they have ever been before. They’re living in two different worlds, and we see that on so many big votes. Judicial confirmations, tax bills, healthcare reform, immigration. It just seems like both sides want to demonize each other, score political points, and then dance in the end zone because demonizing brings in the cold hard cash for your reelection. Think about it.
Nick Tomboulides: If you’re a politician and you square with the voters and say, my opponent, he’s a decent guy, but I’m a better guy. Is that going to get anyone fired up? No, you’ll bore them to death. But if you go on Fox or CNN or MSNBC every day and say, this other party is tearing America apart, our country will literally die, we’ll burst into flames if you vote for that other guy, that’ll get people off their asses and ready to fight. So that’s what politics has become because being in Congress is such an addictive thing.
Nick Tomboulides: Once you get a taste of that power, of that luxury, of everyone laughing at your jokes, it’s intoxicating. It’s a dopamine rush for these people. You never ever want to leave, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to protect that little fiefdom, which makes term limits all the more essential. We will keep tracking the impeachment issue as it progresses.
Nick Tomboulides: Next, we move to Elk Grove, Illinois. This is a small village, a suburb of Chicago where you have citizens trying to pass term limits on the mayor and the village trustee. They collected 2600 signatures to hold a vote on this and now the creepy politicians are coming back with a lawsuit. The politicians have filed a 357 page objection to the term limits measure in court. You heard correctly, a 357 page objection to term limits. For context, that objection is longer than the entire New Testament. The story of Jesus was told in many fewer pages than what these craven, cowardly local hacks needed to complain about their political careers getting taken away.
Nick Tomboulides: Secondly, the reasons for this complaint are ridiculous. They are saying people from outside the village might have walked around with some of the clipboards. So what? That’s very constitutional. Courts have been okay with that for years and years and years. If you’re doing a petition drive for term limits in your town, your city, your state, wherever, you are allowed to bring in people who don’t live there to help you. That’s just the way America works. We have freedom. We have the right to petition and the right of assembly. It’s insane.
Nick Tomboulides: Next complaint, people circulated petitions other than Tim Burns, the guy running the pro term limits effort. So they’re saying Tim Burns, the leader of this pro term limits effort, found other citizens who agreed with him on passing term limits and they offered to help him get signatures. Oh my goodness, this Tim Burns sounds like quite the evil fellow. How dare he organize his community like that to get a better government? Oh my goodness, what a monster. We need to lock this guy up and throw away the key, or we can come to our senses and make America sane again.
Nick Tomboulides: Finally, they’re saying the governor of Illinois signed some law making it illegal for citizens to pass term limits. Well, as I said last I checked, the first amendment can’t be repealed by a governor or a state legislature. It gives people the right of assembly to petition their government, so that one seems frivolous as well. In fact, this entire complaint from top to bottom just seems preposterous. It’s just politicians squirming. They don’t like the fact that they have to leave office, and they’re rationalizing and finding all these weird justifications to try to kill it, so we’re going to keep tracking this. We’re totally behind Tim Burns, the leader of the effort.
Nick Tomboulides: My favorite part of the story is the last line. The mayor who is fighting against term limits was not available for comment because he was in The Bahamas attending the ESPN Bahamas College Bowl game. I really hope he was there on his own dime, but it sounds like it’s a pretty sweet gig to be the mayor of Elk Grove, Illinois. It’s no wonder this guy doesn’t want to leave.
Scott Tillman: Hi, this is Scott Tillman, the national field director with US Term Limits. I’m also part of a volunteer group in Michigan that defends our state term limits from overambitious legislators and greedy lobbyists. The Michigan group is called Don’t Touch Our Term Limits. Michigan has the strongest term limits in the nation. Politicians are limited to three house terms and two Senate terms. These are lifetime limits. Michigan’s term limits are under attack from lobbyists and legislators. They want voters to give them more time in Lansing, so we commissioned a poll to see if voters want legislators to have more time in Lansing.
Scott Tillman: We asked, “Currently, Michigan state legislators are term limited to six years in the state house and eight years in the state senate. Michigan legislators are proposing to lengthen term limits, allowing themselves to stay in office longer. Do you favor or oppose a change in Michigan term limits that would let state legislators stay in office longer?” 69% of Michigan voters oppose changing the term limits. This is 10 points higher than in 1992 when term limits first passed. Obviously, voters like term limits and feel that they’re working.
Scott Tillman: Politicians can only succeed in weakening term limits by hiding their efforts or tricking voters. Our Michigan group is taking bold action to shed light on this political scheming. The hogs in Lansing want more time at the trough, so we found a giant hog to tattle on them. We are going town to town with a giant pig on a trailer. Everyone understands that term limits make the lobbyist squeal. People love seeing this giant pig and they understand the message right away. Last week we were in Southwest Michigan, New Buffalo, Niles, Cassopolis, Three Rivers, Coldwater, Sturgis, Marshall, Hastings, Charlotte, Ionia, Sunfield and many other towns.
Scott Tillman: Please go to our Save Michigan Term Limits Facebook page to see the video and share stories about the pig. If you’re in Michigan, please go to termlimits.com/pig and take action. And if you’re interested in joining one of our many volunteer groups to help advocate for term limits, please contact us at termlimits.com
Nick Tomboulides: And now a Christmas tale from US Term limits. The people of Michigan like term limits a lot, but career politician, Lee Chatfield does not. Chatfield hates term limits. More power, he covets while telling 60% of the voters to shove it. It could be perhaps he thinks voters don’t matter, it could be their trust he intended to shatter, but I think the most likely reason to mention is wanting a career in politics: pay, perks and pension. But whatever the reason is contempt or his gimmicks, there stood speaker Chatfield hating term limits.
Nick Tomboulides: “They might forget about me,” he snarled with a sneer. “My six year term limit, it’s practically here. Why? For six years I’ve put up with it now, I must stop term limits from coming, but how? I know just what I’ll do,” he laughed in his throat. “I’ll repeal term limits without a real vote.” And he chuckled and clucked, “What a great trick! I’ll hide term limits with ethics. Isn’t that slick? All I need are some helpers,” the speaker looked around. But since the people loved term limits, there were none to be found. Did that stop the speaker? Ha, the speaker simply said, “If I can’t find a group that hates term limits, I’ll make one instead.”
Nick Tomboulides: So he grabbed some lobbyists and fellow fat cats and they called it grassroots, just like that. They held some forums and phony town halls, played the press like a fiddle and that wasn’t all. He needed a patsy, an outside group to be the promoter. Chatfield had found one. It was called Politicians, Not Voters. He felt bad for a moment about pushing it through. He was doing it for big donors and lobbyists too. There the Senate term limits all hung in a row, these limits he declared are the first things to go. He took away all the term limits with glee. Now grinned the speaker, “It’s more power for me.”
Nick Tomboulides: As the speaker started calculating next year’s pay, he heard the sound of oinking from not far away. He turned around fast and he saw a giant hog emerging from the dense Michigan fog. It was Christmas Eve, all the Michiganians in bed when out came mighty Jeff Tillman with a pig on his sled. Tillman showed the people what the speaker had done. His pig, Wasted Wilbur, ended the politicians fun. “Sorry, voters,” the speaker was humming. They’re finding out now that no term limits are coming. They’re just waking up. I know just what they’ll do. Their mouths will hang open just a moment or two, then those stupid voters will all cry, boo hoo.
Nick Tomboulides: “That annoys,” grinned the speaker that I simply must hear. He paused and the speaker put a hand to his ear, and he did hear a sound rising over the snow. It started in low, then it started to grow. Oink, oink. But this sound wasn’t sad. Why, this sound sounded glad. Every Michiganian in Michigan, the tall and the small were singing like term limits hadn’t been mauled. He hadn’t stopped term limits from coming, it came. Somehow or other, it came just the same. And the speaker with crooked feet on the ground glanced outside and instantly frowned, “How could it be so? I tricked them. If they were purple, blue or red, how could term limits still be ahead?” He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore, then the speaker thought of something he hadn’t before.
Nick Tomboulides: Maybe this election he thought, the people have spoken. Maybe term limits cannot be stolen. And what happened then? Well, in Michigan they say that the speaker’s small heart grew three sizes that day, and the true meaning of term limits came through with house members leaving after three terms, senators after two.
Nick Tomboulides: Finally, we are back in Michigan. I love this story in the Grand Rapids press. It just came out. It’s called Giant Pig touring Michigan to support term limits. And of course, we’re the evil geniuses behind the giant pig and I’m going to just read this story and tell you a little bit about it, by Emily Lawler. “If you happen to spot a giant pig rolling through your town, it’s there to support the term limits put on lawmakers in Lansing. This might be a self-loathing pig because he’s going up against his fellow pigs. ‘A group called Don’t Touch Term Limits, a grassroots coalition of people who supported the effort to put them in place in the 1990s is behind the effort,’ said Scott Tillman. His father, Jeff Tillman, is the one escorting the pig across the state. ‘I’m the hog wrangler,’ he jokes. In Lansing, lawmakers and key groups have been having preliminary discussions about loosening Michigan’s term limits, which some view as too restrictive.”
Nick Tomboulides: Oh, actually only the lawmakers and key groups view them as too restrictive. We know for a fact 69% of Michiganians love those term limits. Michigan state lawmakers are limited to serving two four year terms in the Senate and three two year terms in the house. The limits were set by voters and the statewide ballot initiative passed in 1992. The groups driving the conversation are as diverse as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses in Michigan and Voters, Not Politicians, the grassroots group that changed redistricting in Michigan on the 2018 ballot. It’s a solution in search of a problem. These people know exactly what they want to do. They want to lengthen term limits and they’re going to plug in the reasons for doing that later.
Nick Tomboulides: On to the rest of the article. It says, “Former law makers are also suing challenging Michigan’s term limit law in court. Jeff Tillman was in the upper peninsula with the pig supporting term limits. Before that, he was in Southwest Michigan. The pig has started a lot of conversations, lettering on its side, he urges people to keep term limits and call their legislator to tell them to do the same. He’s still working out his next destination. Scott Tillman said the plan is to keep going until lawmakers commit to leaving term limits alone.” But Scott, how naive you are, that would mean actually listening to the voters, and the voters are not high on the lawmakers list of top priorities.
Nick Tomboulides: “If the pig looks familiar, he previously served as Mr. Perks, a big pig. He previously used to campaign against government pork. This pig has no problem finding employment because politicians are constantly misbehaving.”
Nick Tomboulides: And what I noticed about this article, which is online mlive.com you can see it and we’ll put it in the show notes, is there are 99 comments at the bottom of the article. People are really super fired up about this. There’s one guy who says, “We are one of the only states with a full-time legislature. Now they want full-time lifelong careers too? It’s supposed to be public service, where someone gives themselves to serve others, not to create an elite class of rulers who get lifelong power based on name recognition. Here, here.” Another commenter writes, this is dumb. Being a state rep can easily be made a part-time job, mostly done with a laptop at one’s own kitchen table. Make that change in the term limit issue becomes moot.” Last one, “Politicians are like a herd of bloody swine that refuse to leave the trough. You’ll get no more of this evening, so you better bugger off.”
Nick Tomboulides: So well said and it reminds me of something Jack Abramoff said, which is, “If you want to see pigs screeching at the trough, tell them they can’t stay there forever.”
Stacey Selleck: Hey everyone, Stacey here. Hope you’re enjoying the podcast. I wanted to let you know that there are multiple ways to find us. First, you may visit us at termlimits.com/podcast. You can also click the podcast button at the top of our website at termlimits.com. From there, if you select No Uncertain Terms Podcast library, you can see a listing of every episode. Clicking on the title or read more, brings you to the transcript of each show. So now you can read every podcast as well as listen to it.
Stacey Selleck: You may also Google No Uncertain Terms Podcast to get a great listing of all of our shows. Subscribe to us on Google Play, Apple Podcast, Stitcher, and now on iHeartRadio and Pandora. Thanks for all of your support. Give us a review and five stars whenever you can. Thank you and have a great day.
Nick Tomboulides: Thanks for listening to another episode of No Uncertain Terms. The term limits for all members of Congress is no longer a question because the term limits movement is happening and it always, always wins with the voters. Do you want to be a part of it? Start by spreading the word. Share this podcast with a friend of any political persuasion. Everyone is for term limits. Subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, or simply listen to it on our website at termlimits.com. And while you’re there, sign the petition and check out the current actions tab where you will find direct ways to take action in your state. We’ll be back next week.
Speaker 5: USTL.