Philip Blumel: One law for them and another one for us. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official Podcast of the Term Limits movement for the week of September 7, 2020.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: Politicians like to be seen standing up for public health, but are they willing to abide by their own rules? US Term Limits Executive Director, Nick Tomboulides has the story of Nancy Pelosi’s hair salon caper. Also in this episode, the 2020 edition of Ballotpedia’s state legislative competitive index is out. How did the tournament states fair? Stay tuned. We’ll start off with an announcement from the President’s Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Kayleigh McEnany: Good afternoon, everyone. Two briefings ago, I asked, “Where is Nancy Pelosi?” Today, I can announce we have found Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi was not in the halls of Congress when I asked where she was, she was not working in good faith to make a deal for the American people. Nope. Nancy Pelosi was found in San Francisco at a hair salon where she was indoors, even though salons in California are only opened for outdoor service, apparently, the rules do not apply to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She wants small businesses to stay shut down, but only reopen for her convenience. “Do as I say, not as I do.” Says Nancy Pelosi.
Philip Blumel: I love the story. I love the story of Nancy Pelosi getting caught in the hair salon in San Francisco, in the middle of lockdown when nobody is supposed to be at a hair salon, but when you’re Nancy Pelosi, you’re apparently above the law in many ways, and it doesn’t surprise me. It’s sad that this is the reality, but it doesn’t surprise me. Most politicians though they usually try to hide it. Nancy Pelosi is kind of different because most politicians try to conceal the fact that they are part of a wealthy elite, that they are different from the general public, they will say, “Well, I’m a man of the people.” Or “I’m a woman of the people.” And they will pretend to be an average Joe or an average Jane.
Philip Blumel: They will not so transparently flaunt their wealth because they know it will raise eyebrows and people will wonder, ” Well, gee. You’ve been in politics, selected office for so many years, it’s not a very high paying job, how did you get so rich? How did you get so privileged?” But Nancy Pelosi just doesn’t care, she never even tries to hide it. I remember she made that video at the height of the pandemic showing off her $13 ice cream bar, and now she’s been caught red-handed at a salon in the middle of lockdown. I was thinking about why Nancy Pelosi doesn’t feel like she has to hide it. And the reason why I think is that there’s nothing that we can take away from her. Kim Jong-un doesn’t get as a high a percentage of the vote as Nancy Pelosi. Okay, maybe he does, but it’s probably closer than you think. She is unbeatable because she has been in office so long… 33 years longer than I’ve been alive. Imagine if you had a football coach who lost more games than he won, could that guy keep his job for 33 years? When you think about it in every profession known to God and man, you have to do something, you have to show some results, some performance, some positivity in order to keep your job for even a week, much less 33 years. Except for politics, elected office, politics, government, Congress is the only job that consistently rewards failure.
Philip Blumel: It rewards incumbency, and Nancy Pelosi is the epitome of failure and incumbency. She can act so arrogantly because of her power, she knows she’ll never lose her seat, so she can say these things because she knows there will be no consequences. If you live in San Francisco right now, all the indoor dining is closed, the hotels are closed, the salons are closed, and yet here’s speaker Nancy Pelosi wearing a fancy velvet robe and she’s parading herself around like a princess. Business people are being suffocated right now and many of them say they’ll never be able to reopen. When restaurants and hotels and salons are closed, your congressman still gets paid, your governor still gets paid, your mayor still gets paid, direct deposit. All the people doing the lockdowns are not making a personal sacrifice at all. They’ve waged a war on COVID, and that’s good. We all hate COVID. We hate when people are sick and we love when people are healthy, but the politicians are sending other people to fight their war on COVID. They’re sending you and me, they’re sending the gym owner down the street, the tavern owner down the street, the working class is taking the big hit and the smirking class is doing just fine.
Philip Blumel: Politicians, many of whom have only one job skill, convincing people to vote for them are doing just fine, but this isn’t about the pandemic, this is about stopping hypocrisy, this is about asking politicians simply to live by the very same rules they impose on the rest of us or to not impose those rules at all. I wish it were just Nancy Pelosi, but it’s not, this is happening everywhere. The Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney won’t let people eat at restaurants, but then they caught him sneaking over the border into Maryland to eat in a restaurant.
Philip Blumel: Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of New York City, who’ll soon be gone due to term limits, he blocks his citizens from going to the gym, but then he went to the gym during the pandemic. The Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, she closed all the jewelry stores, closed all the so-called non-essential businesses, and then they caught her buying jewelry for herself during the pandemic, that’s like Monarch behavior. And these are just the ones we caught, imagine how many we didn’t catch. I almost want to establish a Term Limits tipline where if you see a holier than thou politician who thinks they’re above the law, call us right away, and we’ll talk about it on this podcast. We will also pass term limits on that politician.
Ken Quinn: Hi, this is Ken Quinn, Regional Director with US Term Limits. Did James Madison really tremble at the thought of an Article Five convention being called? Well, if you were to listen to the fear mongers out there, that is what they would have you believe. The quote, which I will share in a moment comes from a letter Madison wrote to George Turberville dated November 2nd, 1788. Madison was responding to a question he asked him, “You wish to know my sentiments on the project of another general convention as suggested by New York.” First, let me provide a little historical background, the Constitution had been in place for only four months, and it would be another four months before the new government would begin, none of the states had even elected their senators or representatives for Congress at this point. The battle for ratification between the Federalists and the Anti-federals was intense in several of the states, and there was still strong anti-federal sentiment in New York. The delegates to the New York Convention submitted 33 amendments along with their ratification that would have changed most of the constitutions articles. The governor of New York sent a circular letter to all the other governors asking them to support the calling of another convention to completely revise the Constitution.
Ken Quinn: This is what Madison is addressing in his letter, Madison expressed that he wished that the Constitution was amended before it was even adopted in the Philadelphia Convention, but at this point in time, he believed that the government should first become operational in order to have the light of experiments before introducing any amendments. He believed that even good amendments would not be proposed simply because not enough states would agree to holding a convention, and that the most efficient way to propose amendments would be in Congress. What is most interesting in the letters that he describes the two types of conventions, a convention to adopt a new constitution, and an article five convention, to propose amendments, “A convention cannot be called without the unanimous consent of the parties who are to be bound by it. If first principles are to be recurred to or without the previous application of two-thirds of the state legislatures if the forms of the Constitution are to be pursued.” Since a new constitution would be a new compact addressing first principles, which is what New York was seeking, it would require unanimous consent to call.
Ken Quinn: Whereas if two-thirds of the states concurred in amendments an article five convention could be called, Madison knew that neither of these were attainable at that time. He further stated that if a convention to adopt another constitution was called, it would claim to have more power than the Congress creating confusion, and that is why he said, “Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first convention, which assembled under every propitious circumstance, meaning favorable, I should tremble for the result of a second meeting in the present temper of America and under all the disadvantages I have mentioned.” Obviously, to any honest reader, Madison opposed a convention to adopt another constitution because of the many problems it would create.
Ken Quinn: He also knew that the simplest and quickest way to propose amendments at that time, was through Congress and not trying to get two-thirds of the states to apply for an article five convention. Madison proved this point by introducing amendments in that very first Congress, which became part of the constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. Madison was a strong proponent for the Article Five convention process, advocating for it in the federals papers and throughout the rest of his life.
Philip Blumel: Are you a career politician sitting at home watching your hair grow uncontrollably? Don’t keep looking like a member of the Green Party. Come on down to Nancy Antoinette’s hair salon. Nancy Antoinette’s is located in the heart of old San Francisco, and whether you’re a governor, senator, congress woman or just plain old Mayor, our professional team of stylists is ready to pamper you today. While your constituents get jailed, let’s do your nails, while business owners to spare, let’s do your hair. Don’t worry about wearing a pesky mask, those are just for the little people. So stop by and see us like an incumbent, our prices can’t be beat. And look is this technically illegal? Yeah, and would a normal person be arrested even for trying it? You bet, but you are a powerful politician, and because you have no term limits, you can get away with anything.
Philip Blumel: The preceeding advertisement was intended only for professional politicians like Nancy Pelosi. Any civilians caught violating the lockdown will immediately be apprehended and fed to a shark.
Philip Blumel: In other news this week, Ballotpedia has released its tenth annual state legislative competitiveness report for 2020. This report analyzes all 5875 state legislative elections that will take place this November. We’ll get into some of the details, but the big takeaway is pandemics are a boon for incumbents. Ballotpedia uses three factors to analyze the competitiveness of elections, they look at how many incumbents filed for re-election, how many incumbents have contested primaries, and how many seats are contested in the general election. The bottom line is that in 2020, 85% of incumbents are seeking re-election, the highest number in a decade, 80% of those did not face any primary challenge, and in the general election, 35% will not face any major party competition either. This should not be a surprise. During an economic lockdown, it is particularly hard for challengers to meet and persuade voters. In a years like this one, term limits are more important than ever. So how do term limits affect competitiveness? Clearly, state legislative races would be far less competitive, if 15 states didn’t have term limits. Think about it, term limits create open seat elections in every district, every six or eight years, depending on the length of the term limit. No other election reform generates more candidates and more meaningful races.
Philip Blumel: It shouldn’t be too surprising that five out of the top five states with the most open seat elections are term limit states, and 12 out of the top 15. Wow, the effect of term limits doesn’t get much clear than that. So as you’d expect, the term limit states ranked near the top of this competitiveness survey. In fact, the state with the most competitive elections is the state with the toughest term limits, Michigan. In fact, combining all the Ballotpedia metrics, three of the top five and six of the top 10 of the most competitive states are all term limit states. Re-election should not be automatic, scaring away all the realistic challengers. Elections are supposed to be the opportunity for voters to be heard, not just a rubber stamp the current occupant of an office until he or she decides to retire or dies or sent to prison. For the voters to be heard, there has to be meaningful candidates and competitive elections, term limits provide them. Thank you to Ballotpedia for keeping score.
Philip Blumel: Thanks for tuning in to another episode of No Uncertain Terms. President Trump included past congressional term limits as one of his core priorities for a second term, let’s let him know that we support this idea and urge him to secure a vote on the US term limits amendment that is waiting for a hearing right now in the US Senate. Go to termslimits.com/trump and ask the president to break the log jam and get a vote on SJR-1. It’ll take you two minutes. Even if you’re skeptical about his commitment to this issue, let him know that. Dare him, to prove you wrong by having a vote. That termslimits.com/trump. Thanks, we’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: If you like what you’re hearing, please subscribe and leave a review. The No Uncertain Terms podcast can be found on iTunes, Stitcher or YouTube, and now Google Play.