Philip Blumel: This is the week that was Term Limits Day, 2020.
Philip Blumel: Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits Movement, for the week of March 2, 2020.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: Last Thursday, February 27th, marked the second annual iteration of Term Limits Day. This is a commemoration of February 27th, 1951, the day that the 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, which imposed Presidential term limits. That’s right, it is possible to amend the constitution to include term limits, it’s already been done once.
Philip Blumel: Now, reminding people of this is one reason why Term Limits Day is important, but it’s not the most important thing about it. The fact is, to remind you that we are executing a strategy to add Congressional term limits to the Constitution, and the strategy’s working. We’re asking states to pass resolutions, calling for an Amendment writing convention limited to the subject of Congressional term limits. Under Article Five of the US Constitution, of two-thirds, or 34 of the states makes such a call, a convention must be held.
Philip Blumel: Now, states would send delegates, and hash out the details of the proposal, but of course, the convention has no power to alter or abolish any law by itself to become part of the Constitution. Three-quarters, or 38 of the states would have to ratify the proposal. Well so far, three states have passed Term Limits Convention resolutions, and this success has allowed us to raise money, to push term limit convention resolutions in other states.
Philip Blumel: So, as more and more states pass these term limit convention resolutions, eventually the establishment is going to become alarmed, and resist the people’s advance. Now, we can only win this battle if the public is engaged, we know this. We also know that super majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents support Congressional term limits, they always have. But, when the time comes, we need these people to be engaged, and that can’t happen on a dime.
Philip Blumel: We are bigger than the establishment, and they need an annual reminder. We need to create a culture where every politician in America is aware, not only that we support term limits … I mean, they know that, and they don’t care. But, that we are engaged in the issue, that we are watching them, and expect them to do the right thing. And, that there will be consequences if they don’t.
Philip Blumel: Now, ever since I got involved in US Term Limits, I’ve heard from citizens who want to march on Washington. It sounds exciting, it sounds romantic. It also sounds really expensive, and it sounds like a hassle. It sounds like I’ll have to take off work, and I don’t know, buy airplane tickets, and rent out hotel rooms, et cetera. Why cannot we just show our support in our own communities, where we work and live?
Philip Blumel: Last week, we saw term limits action from coast to coast. So, let’s review some highlights, that came immediately to our attention.
Philip Blumel: In Arizona, term limits activists, led by Jim [inaudible 00:03:04] and Ron Hooper, held Term Limits Day petition tables at six or seven locations around the state, including Scottsdale, Carefree, Prescott. There, volunteers collected signatures on the Congressional term limits petition, and then set up signers to receive our news, and importantly our action items, so they can put their conviction about term limits to use, to practical ends.
Philip Blumel: We also saw some action in Southern California, where there was petitioning going on. Thank you for Rand E. Tanner, for organizing out there.
Philip Blumel: In Michigan, term limits activists held sign wavings at busy intersections, letting their neighbors know that the term limits issue is on the move.
Philip Blumel: In Palm Beach County, Florida, where I live, we distributed and displayed about 400 term limit Congress signs to people’s yards. Special thanks to the team that delivered signs to people’s yards, thank you everyone. Great work. As a final flourish, we planted signs along the route from the Palm Beach International airport, to the famous Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, because we knew that there were dozens of Congress members arriving, on Term Limits Day, on Thursday, to attend a Club For Growth conference.
Philip Blumel: Also in Florida, in New Port Ritchie, which is near St. Pete, Stacey Selleck, and about 20 others, held a phone bank. They called members of the Senate Rules Committee, wishing them a happy Term Limits Day. And, of course to urge them to vote yes on Monday, for the bill to put eight year term limits for school boards on the state ballot in November.
Philip Blumel: In Maryland, Mike O’Dell took a group of citizens to the capital to wish happy Term Limits Day to legislators, and to push for them to support a term limits convention resolution.
Philip Blumel: We got some social air cover for our projects, which is very helpful as it drew attention to, and for some people, I guess, validated what they saw going on, on the ground. Senator Rand Paul, of Kentucky, and former South Carolina Governor Nicky Haley, they both tweeted about Term Limits Day. And, so did Senator Ted Cruz, the sponsor of the Congressional Term Limits Amendment Bill in the US Senate. I mentioned the Club For Growth meeting, at the Breakers in Palm Beach, and we ran into Senator Cruz, and we wished him a happy Term Limits Day. He promised to tweet about it, before the evening was done. And, he did.
Philip Blumel: Other politicians helped spread the word, as well. In West Virginia, Senator Randy Smith took to the Senate floor, to announce Term Limits Day, in the wake of that body passing the Term Limits Convention resolution, a few weeks ago. And Florida representative, Anthony Sabatini, he’s the sponsor of the School Board Term Limits Bill, sent a letter to all of his House colleagues, announcing the Term Limits Day holiday.
Philip Blumel: Term Limits Day news is still trickling in. For more complete reviews, see TermLimits.com. Let’s make next year even bigger. Everyone has heard of Earth Day, soon everyone must know about Term Limits Day, too.
Scott Tillman: Hi, this is Scott Tillman, the National Field Director with US Term Limits. We ask candidates for the State Legislature to sign a pledge to help us get term limits on Congress.
Scott Tillman: The pledge reads, “I pledge that as a member of the State Legislature, I will cosponsor, vote for, and defend the resolution applying for an Article Five Convention for the sole purpose of enacting term limits on Congress.”
Scott Tillman: There are many Legislative elections coming in 2020. Last week, 28 new candidates for State Legislatures signed this pledge. Candidates are getting real traction with the term limits issue. Tuesday is the North Carolina State House primary election. Going into Tuesday’s election, we have 96 candidates who have signed the pledge to term limit Congress. If you have access to a candidate, please ask them to sign our pledge.
Scott Tillman: Pledges are available at TermLimits.com.
Nick Tomboulides: Hi, I’m Nick Tomboulides, Executive Director of US Term Limits. We’re the nation’s oldest and largest pro term limits group, and I am honored to be joined by Gavin Rollins, 2020 candidate for Congress in Florida’s third Congressional district.
Nick Tomboulides: We are in the beautiful city of Gainesville, home of the Gators, home of the swamp. But, we’re here to talk about a different swamp, and that is the one in Washington, DC. The only real way to fix this is with Congressional term limits, the only way to fix it is by sending men and women to Washington, like Gavin Rollins, who are willing to commit to serious term limits, to drain the swamp.
Nick Tomboulides: That’s why we have the US Term Limits pledge here, today, for a Constitutional Amendment that would hold House members to three terms, and Senators to two. That means if you do six years in the House, 12 years in the Senate, then you have to go home. That is a real term limit, that would really help drain the swamp.
Nick Tomboulides: Just to give you a little bit of context, if this term limit had already existed, Nancy Pelosi would have had to leave Congress in 1992, Chuck Schumer would have been gone in 1986. That’s powerful this is.
Gavin Rollins: That’s the year I was born.
Nick Tomboulides: Exactly.
Gavin Rollins: 1986.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. She’s been in office as long as he’s been alive, and longer than I’ve been alive. It’s just incredible. On Congressional terms, we do need limits, we need term limits.
Gavin Rollins: Absolutely.
Nick Tomboulides: Gavin, I’m honored to be here with you, today.
Gavin Rollins: It’s good to be here. I’m honored to be the first, and only at this point, candidate in the Third Congressional district, to sign the Term Limits pledge.
Gavin Rollins: The key to this is, it’s supporting a Constitutional Amendment that would term limit all members of Congress. That’s the Democrats, the career Rhinos, across the board. That’s why I think this is key. Instead of just taking a personal pledge to do a certain number of terms, I’m going to fight to term limit every politician in DC.
Gavin Rollins: I’ve done this, as a County Commissioner. I fought to put, on the ballot, a Constitutional Charter, in this case, Charter Amendment, to term limit politicians in Clay County. I’ll fight in DC, and sign onto a Constitutional Amendment, and that’s what this pledge is. It’s committing me to sing onto a Constitutional Amendment for term limits. I’m excited to do that.
Gavin Rollins: Should I go ahead?
Nick Tomboulides: Sure. Let me just say one last thing, too, about you and your record. I go all over the country, talking about term limits, meeting with different candidates and elected officials, and sometimes it’s just lip service, with term limits. But with you, you have a proven track record, you have fought this fight. As a Clay County Commissioner, you mentioned, you put term limits on the Charter Officers in Clay.
Nick Tomboulides: I live in Florida, I know how difficult that is to do. You need to go against all the political self-interest, all the institutional power. It takes real guts to do that. I have no doubt in my mind that, when you get to Washington, DC, you’ll be a term limits warrior there as well. I totally commend you for signing this pledge.
Gavin Rollins: I appreciate that. You also have a Nancy Pelosi proof version?
Nick Tomboulides: We do have a Nancy Pelosi version of the pledge, which is laminated.
Gavin Rollins: I love it.
Nick Tomboulides: I presented this one to Nancy.
Gavin Rollins: No tearing possible?
Nick Tomboulides: No. It’s a tear-proof term limits pledge. If I run into Nancy, I’ll give her this one. But Gavin, I have all the confidence in you, so go right at it.
Gavin Rollins: Absolutely. I’m going to go ahead and sign this.
Nick Tomboulides: We’ve got 50 cosponsors in the House, and we’re looking followed to adding you as another one.
Gavin Rollins: There it is, signed. He will witness it.
Nick Tomboulides: Absolutely.
Gavin Rollins: It’s in the books.
Margaret Harrington: Welcome viewers, to our ongoing program Focus, coming to you from Channel 17, Center for Media and Democracy, here in Burlington, Vermont. I’m your host, Margaret Harrington, in the Channel 17 newsroom.
Margaret Harrington: My special guest today is Ken Quinn, from US Term Limits. Welcome, Ken.
Ken Quinn: Margaret, thank you so much for having me on today, I appreciate it.
Margaret Harrington: Thank you very much. We have this very important subject, here. The title for our program is Its Time We Term Limit Congress.
Margaret Harrington: Would you start off by telling us about the term limits for Congress legislation, that is being supported by some bipartisan legislators, here in Vermont?
Ken Quinn: Yeah, we have some real exciting news. Just to give folks a little bit of a background as to what this issue is about, we’re trying to get the states to propose a term limit Amendment on Congress.
Ken Quinn: Now, here in Vermont, we have two sponsors. We have a sponsor in the House, the resolution is J.R.H.2, and the sponsor is Bob Helm. Then, we have a sponsor in the Senate, Senator Debbie Ingram, and that’s going to be coming out, probably in about a week or so.
Ken Quinn: What this resolution is, that we need the State Legislature to pass, is what’s called an Article Five Application. It’s applying to Congress to call an Article Five convention, to allow the states to meet, draft the Amendment, vote on it, and then send it out to the states for ratification. So, we need 34 states to call the convention, and then 38 states to ratify the Amendment, so that’s what this resolution’s all about.
Margaret Harrington: Okay, so that’s Article Five of the United States Constitution?
Ken Quinn: Yes. Yes, which is the amending provision in the Constitution.
Margaret Harrington: Okay.
Ken Quinn: I’ll briefly … Basically, what Article Five allows is only two ways to propose Amendments. Either two-thirds of both houses of Congress propose it, and then send it out to the states for ratification, and that’s how we have gotten all of our 27 Amendments, came from Congress. The second option allows the states the exact same ability to propose amendments. So, we need two-thirds of the states to agree on the subject matter, because it’s limited to what they submit in their applications. So, our application is for a single subject, which is for a Congressional term limit Amendment.
Margaret Harrington: Okay. Can you give us some idea of what the language is, in that proposed Amendment to the Vermont Legislature?
Ken Quinn: Yeah. Actually, it’s very … We are not even advocating how long the terms should be, we just want to have the states to have this discussion, on behalf of the American people.
Ken Quinn: Now, we are also trying to advance this through Congress. We actually do have an Amendment in Congress, right now. That Amendment calls for limiting US Senators to two terms. So, their term is six years each, so that would be a total of 12 years. Then, limiting House of Representatives to three terms, for a total of six years. So, one person combined could serve a total of 18 years, in Congress.
Ken Quinn: Now, that’s currently in Congress right now. I don’t have a lot of hope that’s going to get passed by the two-thirds of Congress, so that’s why we’re advancing it through the states. With the state initiative, it’s not advocating those specific terms. We left that open, to let the states have that discussion in the convention.
Margaret Harrington: Okay. How long has this been before Congress? How long has this proposal been there?
Ken Quinn: Well, our Amendment in Congress, we typically have it introduced every session. Actually, this year, we did have a Committee Hearing, on behalf of this Amendment. I think it’s been 20 years since we’ve even been able to get a Committee Hearing. So, obviously our biggest roadblock to getting this done is Congress itself. That’s why we need the states to do this, because without the states pressuring Congress to do something, it’s just probably not going to happen.
Ken Quinn: Now personally, I want to go all the way, to have the states have this meeting to do it. I think the Amendment that they draft and vote on is probably going to have a little more teeth into it, than what Congress would propose.
Margaret Harrington: What is the major resistance to US Congressional term limits?
Ken Quinn: Well, number one would be Congress, they don’t like this idea. The American people, 82% in a recent poll, 82% of the American voters want term limits on Congress. That polls high with Republicans, Democrats, Independents, across the board. It’s really a very popular subject.
Ken Quinn: Now, back in our history, back in the 1990s, 23 states actually passed laws, most of them at the ballot box, by the people, to put term limits on their own members of Congress, in their states. Unfortunately, what happened was, in the case against us, it was US Term Limits versus Tornton, the US Supreme Court ruled against those state laws, overturned all of them. And ruled that the only way this could be accomplished was under Article Five of the US Constitution, either by Congress or the states.
Margaret Harrington: Okay.
Ken Quinn: Yeah, so we’re pushing it both ways. I’m very excited that we have this in the Vermont Legislature, the Senate resolution’s going to be coming out, probably next week. So, if you’re out there listening and watching, we need your help. We want to get this passed, this is a reform that is desperately needed for the American people. Washington, DC, Congress is broken, it’s dysfunctional. We need to send new people, with fresh ideas down to DC, and get things done that need to get done.
Ken Quinn: The incumbents in Washington, who have been there for decades, continue to kick the can down the road on really important issues. And the problem is, they seem to care more about their reelection and maintain power, and this will help break up that backlog that we have.
Margaret Harrington: How did we get to this being acceptable, that politicians have lifetime positions in the US Congress? How did this come about?
Ken Quinn: Yeah, it’s a fascinating history. Part of it has to do with our lifespans, our lifespans have greatly increased over the decades, due to technology. Back in the old days, people didn’t live to 70 and 80, all that often.
Ken Quinn: But, what happened was, our first Constitution had term limits. Back then, they called it rotation of office. So, the Articles of Confederation had rotation of office, and many of the state Constitutions had rotation of office, term limits. The reason for that was the Founders believe that anybody who holds a seat for too long, it gets to their head, and it becomes more about maintaining power and influence, than doing the will of the people. They saw rotation of office, or what we call term limits today, as probably the number one way of protecting our freedom and our liberty, and not letting it turn into an elite aristocracy.
Ken Quinn: Unfortunately, what happened is over time, its human nature. We have just not paid alto of attention. Now, back in the 1990s, the American people were really pushing for term limits, as we saw with the states’ passage of those state laws. Unfortunately, because state legislators have been unaware of their own authority under Article Five, and some of them have been afraid of using this, they have allowed this continue for decades. We need the state legislators to stand up, use their authority under Article Five. They have the same authority to propose Amendments as Congress does.
Ken Quinn: Now, I don’t want to go down too far a rabbit hole here, but Congress has introduced 12,000 Amendments to the US Constitution. 12,000 since 1789. Only 33 of those were proposed by the two-thirds needed, and then 27 of those have been ratified. On the other side, the states have never introduced one under Article Five, so they’ve never even had the opportunity to meet, to discuss an issue. All we’re seeking is to give the states the same opportunity Congress has taken advantage of 12,000 times. That’s all this is.
Margaret Harrington: Ken, could you go into what were the results, when there was rotation of office? What were the results in legislation, at that time?
Ken Quinn: Yeah, if you were to look at our Founders, our framers, many of them were in office for many years, but they didn’t hold the same seat. They moved around, Governor, Congress, Senate. This doesn’t prevent somebody from serving the people, it just prevents them from holding one seat for decades. It keeps the government robust, it keeps the representation closer to the people, the voters. And, it gives more opportunity for regular folks, citizens, to participate in our government.
Ken Quinn: So, it’s critical to maintaining a functioning democracy, so we need to have term limits so that the will of the people, our voice is heard. Right now, they’re not listening to us, they’re listening to the funders. They listen to the packs, the lobbyists, and the special interest groups, that are spending millions of dollars down in Washington. And yet, they leave us behind. Everybody knows that, and this is the only way we can fix it.
Margaret Harrington: Well then, have we reached a tipping point? And, will term limits soon be the law in the United States?
Ken Quinn: Well, we haven’t reached the tipping point yet, but we need to. The only way we’re going to reach that tipping point is by getting the people to rise up, and demand this. We cannot depend on Congress to do it. They’ve been talking about term limits every year.
Ken Quinn: Last year alone, 60 Amendments were introduced by Congress, 60. About 15 of those were for term limits, ours amongst the others. It gets lip service, I believe the sponsors intend, and want it, but we can never get enough of them in Congress to pass it, by the two-thirds. We need the states, and we need the people in the states, to demand from their state legislators, not their Federal legislators, their state legislators, to do this. We need to take action, we can’t allow this to continue much longer, because things are only going to get worse.
Ken Quinn: If you really want to make a difference in the direction of our nation, we need to initiate term limits. It’s not the silver bullet for everything, but what it will do, it will break up the power that the incumbent party has in Washington, DC. This is not a left or a right problem, they’re both guilty. It’s those in power that are controlling everything, and by having term limits established on Congress, it will get infusion of new people, with new ideas, new energy. It will break up this hold that the lobbyists have over these incumbents, that have been there for decades.
Ken Quinn: I’m excited about it. I think it’s going to be a tremendous reform, but it’s going to be a very heavy lift. Once we get close to calling this convention, the amount of money that’s going to be spent to stop us is going to be overwhelming. It’s going to be a tough battle, but we can get it done. We’ve done it once before, with the President, we have term limits on the President. That’s the 22nd Amendment. So, if it’s good enough for the President, which I believe it is, it should be good enough for members of Congress. We’ve got to get it done.
Philip Blumel: Thanks for joining us for another episode of No Uncertain Terms.
Philip Blumel: Today, Monday, March 2nd, we expect a vote in the Florida Senate Rules Committee on school board term limits. This is the last Committee stop, before the Senate floor. If you live in Florida, please go to TermLimits.com/SchoolBoardTermLimits, to quickly and easily send all of the Rules Committee members a message. You can also find this action time, under the Current Action tab at TermLimits.com.
Philip Blumel: Thanks. We’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: The revolution isn’t being televised. Fortunately, you have the No Uncertain Terms podcast.
Philip Blumel: U.S.T.L.
Donald Trump: If I’m elected President, I will push for a Constitutional Amendment to oppose term limits on all members of Congress.