In this week’s 20 min podcast, Phil and Nick discuss the quick filings for term limits in two key states, plus the fallout from chaos at the nation’s capital
Philip Blumel: What a way to start the session. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits Movement, for the week of January 11th, 2021.
Speaker 2: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: At the state level, the Term Limits convention bills are being introduced with two more states boasting filings this last week. We are out of the gate. At the US Capitol, whoever, chaos reigns, and our team is doing their best to navigate it. Let’s take a closer look with US Term Limits Executive Director Nick Tomboulides. Hey, Nick.
Nick Tomboulides: Hello.
Philip Blumel: In the last podcast, I started off, lead story, with the fact that there’s a new session of Congress just starting, and that we had our US Term Limits Congressional Term Limits amendment resolution introduced in both houses. But that didn’t happen, did it?
Nick Tomboulides: No, it didn’t. You were half right. It was introduced in the US House as HJR12 by Ralph Norman, but the Senate bill number, resolution number is postponed until January 21st.
Philip Blumel: Now, is this because of all the chaos last week in Washington DC?
Nick Tomboulides: I think that’s playing a part of it. If not the chaos, then at least the election-related uncertainty that caused the chaos. There’s just not a lot of bandwidth right now for members of the Senate to consider things other than election stuff. So they’re putting all resolutions on the back burner until January 21st, at which time we will have the resolution number.
Philip Blumel: Okay. There’s no concern about this though? This is gonna happen?
Nick Tomboulides: No, it is definitely happening. We’re 100% certain it’s gonna happen, it’s just gotten delayed by a few weeks.
Philip Blumel: Alright, fair enough. I know that the trouble in the Capitol has caused us other difficulties though. A couple of people from our team, I know you know Shanna and Les Chamblee, they’ve been in the Capitol, they’ve been setting up appointments with new Congressmen who have signed the pledge, and they had 28 appointments set up, and they’re looking forward to it, [chuckle] but then the day that they’re supposed to show up and start having these meetings, all hell breaks loose. [chuckle]
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. And this has been, like you said, in the planning stages for a very long time. We’ve got the 73 House members on the pledge, we’ve got 17 senators. And you didn’t think about it, watching what we saw on TV, it was tragic, but it did have a very sad and direct effect on Term Limits. We had sent this delegation, the Les, Shanna delegation to DC, not to have any involvement whatsoever with any presidential stuff, but to meet with the pledge signer Congress members from both sides of the aisle who have committed to co-sponsor the US Term Limits amendment, because if we don’t get to ’em, the swamp might get to ’em first. We need to act quickly every two years when Congress reconvenes. But as a result of what happened, our team was unable to accomplish its goals. Their meetings were cancelled, Congress members had to either barricade themselves in the building or be sent home. And so it’s senseless, destructive behavior, helps nobody, actually has hindered the work that many good groups are doing, including ours, to make the country a better place. Hopefully, Shanna and Les will be successful in re-scheduling the meetings they missed out on, getting everything back on track. I know they have done a good job meeting up with the small number of Congressmen who are still there and available.
Philip Blumel: Right. I talked to Shanna today about this, and you’re right, they are re-scheduling most of these, but right now, they can’t even go into the Office buildings. There’s three House Office buildings, and they’re all shut down, no visitors, but they’ve been calling up the Offices and asking them if the Congress member would come down to the street and have the meeting on the street in front of the House Office buildings.
Nick Tomboulides: And in front of all the chaos that’s going on outside the Capitol. [chuckle]
Philip Blumel: Oh yeah. Hecklers, people shouting profanities. Most of ’em are afraid to do it.
Nick Tomboulides: And they’re constructing new barriers around Congress now every day that make it even harder for people to get in touch with them.
Philip Blumel: They have their hands full. But I will tell you, three Congressmen so far have come out of the building, come down to the street, chatted with our folks, took care of business, and these folks are Representative Barry Moore in Alabama, Representative Don Bacon, from Nebraska, and Representative Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina.
Nick Tomboulides: Definite tip of the cap to those three. Madison Cawthorn, I have spoken with him and his team, and they are very passionate about Term Limits. He’s one of the youngest members of Congress. He might be the youngest member of Congress right now. He’s only 25-years-old. He won an upset race in a Republican primary in North Carolina. He beat the establishment. And he’s saying, “We need youth, we need fresh ideas, we need new perspectives in Washington, DC” And he’s adamant that he represents all of that, and we’re grateful that he came down and made the time to meet with us.
Philip Blumel: Yeah. It’s notable too that he’s confined to a wheelchair, so for him to come down to the street required that he come out of special entrance of the House Office building, come up or down a hill, I forgot what you said. And it took some effort for him to get there and to do this. And then, he even agreed to make a short video for us there on the street, in front of the House Office building. In fact, let’s roll that.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn: Alright. Hello, everybody. Madison Cawthorn here. I was wanting to reach out to you just to make a personal appeal that you need to support Term Limits. I can tell you, career politicians is what has created the division that we have in our country. They’re not here looking out for normal Americans. They’re here looking out for their own special interest. So please join me in supporting Term Limits. Thanks.
Philip Blumel: So we appreciate that. Thank you very much, Representative Cawthorn.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, and if you’re listening now and you wanna help us spread the word and get that video out there and around, go on our Facebook page, US Term Limits on Facebook, just click the like button, click the share button, help us spread the message.
Scott Tillman: Hello, this is Scott Tillman, the national field director with US Term Limits. We need a constitutional amendment for Term Limits. Amendments to the Constitution are proposed in a couple of ways: First by states calling for a convention, second by Congress proposing an amendment. Amendments in Congress require two-thirds majority of both the House and the Senate before they are sent to the states for ratification. We now have legislation introduced in the US House, HJR12. HJR stands for House Joint Resolution. Amendments are proposed by resolution. Joint resolutions are resolutions that will also need to pass in the other body, in this case, the Senate. The Senate version of the Term Limits amendment has not yet been introduced. We expect it on January 21st. Already, we have 27 members sponsoring this legislation. Every cycle, we present pledge signers with the plaque to recognize them for pledging to support Term Limits in Congress. This plaque also helps as an opportunity for us to remind them to co-sponsor the resolution. This year, we have over 90 members who’ll be receiving plaques.
Scott Tillman: Shanna and Les Chamblee and their children had scheduled appointments with 27 members to deliver plaques during the first two weeks of session. Unfortunately, because of the events of the Capitol on January 6th, only three of those plaques were delivered before the other 24 appointments were cancelled. We need your help delivering plaques to members in their districts. If you’re willing to help, please contact us and we’ll help you to coordinate an appointment with a pledge signer in your area. Email us at email@example.com. That’s P-L-E-D-G-E-S @termlimits.com. Amending the constitution is rightfully difficult, and we need your help to get Term Limits for Congress. We ask candidates for Congress and candidates for state legislature to sign a pledge to help us pass the Term Limits amendment. It’s easiest to get these candidates to sign before they become legislators, and we have many special elections that are already scheduled for 2021. Already, we have three pledges from candidates in special elections. If you’re able to help contact candidates and ask them to sign the US Term Limits pledge, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Philip Blumel: You know, somebody else who came down and also did a video was representative Don Bacon, of Nebraska, and what was notable about that is that he took the opportunity to endorse the Article Five state approach to limiting terms of the US Congress, which I thought was pretty special, particularly coming from a federal Congress member. Let’s do that one too.
Rep. Don Bacon: Hi, I’m Don Bacon, out of Omaha, Nebraska, and I support the Term Limits efforts. We need politicians who are not politicians, but are military generals, farmers, teachers, doctors, and I think Term Limits gets us to where we have the people’s House filled with real people, it’s not career politicians. So I support the efforts for a single topic amendment convention that helps to lower that, and so I really appreciate the time, and I appreciate the Term Limits team for working so hard on this. Thank you.
Philip Blumel: Thank you, Don. [chuckle]
Nick Tomboulides: This is great because Congress members have no obligation to weigh in on whether state legislature should be mobilizing past Term Limits convention resolutions, but when they do, it has a huge impact. Every member of Congress is an influencer within their state, within the political class of their state, and Nebraska, I think having this endorsement will help us on the margins, it will make it more likely that the Term Limits convention goes through their unicameral legislature. So that’s awesome to hear.
Philip Blumel: You can be sure that our folks will be showing this video right here to members of the legislature there in Nebraska, so… Yeah, it’s super. We have good news this week too, the Capitol is a mess, but in the state capitals, things are looking up for us, right?
Nick Tomboulides: State capitals are looking good, we’re getting filed as fast as we can in as many states as we can this week, Aaron Dukette, superhero of Term Limits, came through once again with two new filings, we’ve been pre-filed in the State of Kentucky by Representative Matt Lockett, and we’ve been filed in Tennessee by Representative Chris Todd, so we’re seeing action in both of those states right now, and both of those states have some history with Term Limits and some notable personalities, and each one of those who support it.
Philip Blumel: So this is our third state where it’s been introduced so far in 2021?
Nick Tomboulides: That’s correct.
Philip Blumel: Well, that’s great. Now, we don’t have a lot of experience with Kentucky on this issue, do we? This is new territory, and then in Tennessee, we have laid quite a bit of ground work, so let’s talk about both those. Let’s start with the Kentucky. This is our first foray into that capital, isn’t it?
Nick Tomboulides: It is, and there has not been a lot of progress for other article five convention resolutions out in Kentucky, there’s a strong contingent of these radical people who try to get up there and spread misinformation every session to try to knock those bills down, but we are making progress in that war. Getting filed this early by a great sponsor is the first step toward being successful. It’s something that we haven’t done before in Kentucky. And like we said, Term Limits, even though it doesn’t have quite the history in Kentucky, it’s still been on everyone’s mind, because you’ve got Mitch McConnell, the career politicians, former Senate Majority Leader, Kentucky. He’s the 800-pound elephant in the room. There are other senators, Rand Paul, who’s been as outspoken as anyone about the need for Congressional Term Limits, he had this really weird situation where one senator loves Term Limits and the other one hates it.
Philip Blumel: And both vocal about it.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, and then you’ve got a new Democratic Governor in Kentucky who has supported Term Limits in the past. So it’s a very interesting dynamic. I think the tide is starting to turn there, obviously the poll numbers as they are everywhere are astronomical in Kentucky, and that always gives us a good shot. We don’t need to create new Term Limits supporters, we just need to leverage the support that’s already there.
Philip Blumel: Right, so what about Tennessee? We’ve been there before.
Nick Tomboulides: We have. I’ve been there many times, barnstorming. Tennessee, quite a history. It goes back to the ’90s, Fred Thompson was the senator from there, and he was like a Term Limit’s pioneer during his time in the Senate, he might have been the most outspoken senator on the issue during the 1990s, and around that time, you had the three biggest counties in the state enacted, eight is enough, for the local officials. You had Nashville, Shelby County, which is Memphis, and then Knox County, the three biggest cities, three biggest counties in the state enacted Term Limits, and since that time, the Nashville counsel, which is consolidated government city in the county are the same thing, they have tried seven times to repeal Term Limits, and the voters have shot them down every single time at the ballot box. Most recently in 2018, so the people of Tennessee are on fire for this issue, we’ve got that fresh poll that showed 78% of the state favors Term Limits for Congress. We’ve got two-thirds of people who live in Tennessee say they will be more likely to support their state legislator if he votes for the Term Limits Convention, it means there’s a natural opening for us for Congressional Term Limits to enter the fray. Three years ago, the state legislature made an effort at passing it, passing the TLC, that went all the way to the floor of the State Senate, but it fell short. This year, we intend to pick up where we left off and finish the job.
Philip Blumel: Great. Alright. Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky.
Nick Tomboulides: And there’s more to come.
Philip Blumel: Kristina King is a student at Winnetonka High School in the Kansas City, Missouri, where she had been active in the Debate Club. For whatever projects, she played the role of a US Congress member and made the case for “A bill establishing Congressional Term Limits.” The video was posted last November and can be found on YouTube. Way to go, Kristina.
Kristina King: Hello, my name is Kristina King, I go to Winnetonka High School, and I’m in Congress. The bill that I will be talking about today is a bill to establish Congressional Term Limits. Poll showed the majority of men, women, blacks, whites, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents all favor Term Limits, typically by 60% or better. So the real question is, why don’t we have any? Ever since the 1951 Constitution amendment to limit how long a president could be, well, a president, there have been many times where Congress Term Limits were brought up and well, why not? Having Term Limits would harm absolutely nobody. Well, besides people trying to stay in Congress for half a century. But no one would do that, right? Actually, Robin Beard was in the Senate for 51 years, five months and 26 days, and that amount of time, think about how many people could have been in and out of Congress, bringing new ideas, new thoughts and new perspectives to the table. America is called The Melting Pot of Cultures, our Congress should represent that. Congress Term Limits can do that and much, much more.
Philip Blumel: We’re looking at a dozen or more states this year where we’re actively pushing the bill.
Nick Tomboulides: And we’re organized in most of these states, and this isn’t like the Ron Popeil oven that you see advertised on late night infomercials at 2:00 AM where you set it and forget it. We are actually working these resolutions in every single one of these states, we’re working with sponsors, we’re working with the volunteers, this is gonna be a very dynamic year for our movement.
Philip Blumel: You mentioned Aaron Dukette earlier, he’s doing something special for Term Limits Day, which by the way is February 27th. This year for Term Limits Day, he’s launching the first annual essay contest, which is reaching out to primarily high school students and asking them to write an essay on the issue of Presidential Term Limits. A very interesting program. I know you’ve talked to him about it, Nick, and you probably have more detail on it than me, but I was impressed by looking over his notes here and what he’s sending out.
Nick Tomboulides: You know, first of all, just the title, there’s so much in a title, it’s The Earl E. Michener Term Limits Essay Contest. Now, what’s the significance of that? Earl Michener was the congressman who originally introduced the constitutional amendment, which would go on to become Presidential Term Limits. He is the guy who lit the spark in the 1940s to get that amendment passed with two-thirds vote in Congress, and then eventually it was ratified by three-quarters of the states. Most people don’t probably know that, I’ve never heard that before, but it’s incredible to study the history of how Term Limits began, how the modern Term Limits Movement began in America, and what this essay contest will be is a chance for youth to participate in Term Limits. In my experience, you usually find more knowledge of Term Limits in the Constitution in any middle school civics class than in the entire United States Capitol. [chuckle]
Nick Tomboulides: We get letters and emails all the time from students, they wanna learn more about Term Limits, or they’re doing a class project on it, they wanna interview you or me, so this is something being done for them, and it will start January 25th and 26th. Aaron has a teaching background, a history teacher, and he’s gonna be doing a 30-minute Zoom meeting on the history of Term Limits. It’s gonna be open to middle and high school students, teachers and their classes, and then after that, they’ll be invited to write an essay, answering a specific question about Term Limits.
Philip Blumel: I see that. What are the main causes which compelled Congress to propose in the states to ratify the 22nd Amendment establishing Term Limits on the presidency? Oh, I see. So it’s really not write to say editorial on Term Limits, they’re really asking for them to dig into history and understand why it was passed and the arguments made at that time. It’s an interesting approach.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, and the topic of Presidential Term Limits, it’s so illuminating because most of the problems that catalyzed Presidential Term Limits, they are problems we still have today with Congress, so it will be educational, it will be non-partisan, and if your essay happens to win the contest, you win a prize.
Philip Blumel: All the participants are going to receive something from US Term Limits, at least a hat, or a T-shirt or something like that. That’s exciting, of course, we’ll read the winning essay on this podcast for sure, and probably also post it on YouTube for everyone as well.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. We don’t believe in participation trophies here, but we do have participation shirts. [chuckle]
Philip Blumel: That’s right.
Nick Tomboulides: So you’ll get something for participating, but really you’re just getting an education on a terrific issue.
Philip Blumel: Well, I think we might be educated too by some of these because they’re digging into some history that we sort of take for granted, we use it as our starting mark for this movement, but I didn’t… First of all, I’d never heard the name Earl C. Michener mission prior to reading the name of this essay contest to my recollection at least, so I think those of us at US Term Limits are gonna learn a lot about this history as well.
Nick Tomboulides: Absolutely, and if people wanna get involved, they can go to… Again, termlimits.com/essaycontest.
Philip Blumel: Thanks for joining us for another weekly episode of No Uncertain Terms. After an election year, which saw voters send more Term Limits pledge signers to Congress and the state legislatures than ever before, US Term Limits is gearing up for the 2021 legislative sessions. As a No Uncertain Terms, listener, you are a member of the inner circle of the Term Limits Movement. What can you do to help in 2021? Let us know at termlimits.com/volunteer21. Sign up as a volunteer and answer some simple questions about what kind of work you’d feel comfortable doing to help advance the Congressional Term Limits amendment. That’s termlimits.com/volunteer21. Hey, and don’t forget to mark your calendars for Term Limits Day, February 27th. Thank you. We’ll be back next week.
Speaker 2: The revolution isn’t being televised. Fortunately, you have No Uncertain Terms podcast.
Speaker 8: USTL.