How are you going to show public support for congressional term limits this February 27th? Get some ideas from Phil and Nick in this week’s 20 minute podcast. Also, the latest progress on the term limits amendment bill around the country, and corrupt anti term limits politicians in Michigan LOSE again!
Philip Blumel: Mark your calendar. February 27th is Term Limits Day. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits movement for the week of February 1st, 2021.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: With a renewed push to impose Term Limits on the US Congress, a new national day has emerged from the Term Limits Movement. The idea is simple enough. On February 27th each year, everyone is encouraged to make a show of public support for Term Limits. How are you going to celebrate Term Limits Day this year? Let’s discuss some ideas with Nick Tomboulides, Executive Director of US Term Limits. Hey, Nick.
Philip Blumel: So it’s another Term Limits Day coming up, February 27th. How do you plan on celebrating or showing your support for Term Limits on that day?
Nick Tomboulides: Well for me, every day is Term Limits Day. However, I plan to hold a big sign wave here in my town, in Florida. We’re gonna ask Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians, everybody basically to join in and celebrate Term Limits Day.
Philip Blumel: Oh, fantastic. That’s great.
Nick Tomboulides: How about you?
Philip Blumel: Well, I’m gonna do that also. We’re gonna have a sign wave at a busy intersection down here where I live in West Palm Beach, Florida, and I’m making announcements at political club and other social club meetings around my town to popularize that. And also, for the third year running, I am handing out yard signs for people to put in their front yards on the days leading up to Term Limits Day, February 27th. Over the last two years, I’ve asked people that I’ve given the signs to keep them in the garage so that next year they’d have it available, and I’m finding about half of the people that I give these signs out to are doing that. So it’s making the job a lot easier and each year’s getting bigger. And so I know last year, signs popped up all over Palm Beach County and we’ll have more this year.
Nick Tomboulides: We’ve also got some new swag available for Term Limits Day this year. And as Bernie Sanders would say, “It’s free. It’s all free. We’re just giving it away.”
Philip Blumel: Great.
Nick Tomboulides: We’ve got a nifty little Term Limits Day button. It’s got an all-new design. It’s very School House Rock-esque. It’s got a picture of the US Constitution kicking a politician in the butt. So you do not wanna miss out on that.
Philip Blumel: Yep, it says Happy Term Limits Day, February 27th, right on it. So the idea behind this is that you can wear it around the days prior to Term Limits Day and let people know it’s coming. And also, down here in Florida, where I live, there’s a lot of condos where they don’t allow people to put out yard signs. So for those people that can’t put out yard signs, it’s another way to show your support in public for the idea of Term Limits.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, my homeowners association won’t let me put a sign in my yard, but I’m gonna be getting around that in two ways. Number one, I’m gonna be putting the sign in my window…
Philip Blumel: Okay.
Nick Tomboulides: And number two, I’m gonna be term limiting my homeowner’s association, because that is ridiculous.
Philip Blumel: Right, good. I’m glad to hear it. I know that a lot of towns, particularly places that have homeowners associations, for those people, what I suggest is just put it out on Term Limits Day, on February 27th only, rather than the days leading up to it. You’re not gonna get any trouble for putting out a sign for one day. And I know that in some places where there’s a lot of Term Limit supporters that are activists in a town and that signs pop up one day, they disappear the next day, no harm done. So that’s another thing that I would suggest. And there’s other things you can do. People can send a letter to the editor. Definitely, definitely, definitely on social media, take a picture of your sign or some way that you’re showing support for Term Limits on that day and send it out on Twitter or Facebook or whatever it is you use.
Nick Tomboulides: Make sure to tag your congressmen and if possible, tag your state legislators as well, because they are the people who have the power to propose a congressional Term Limits amendment.
Philip Blumel: That’s a good idea. Now, how do you tag somebody on a social media post?
Nick Tomboulides: So you hit the @ symbol and then you start typing in their name and it should auto-populate for you. But if you’re having any technical difficulties, again, you can email us email@example.com and incidentally, that is the same email you’ll use if you want to request a free Term Limits Day pin. Termlimitsday@termlimits.com.
Philip Blumel: Okay, great. One important thing I wanna say about Term Limits Day is its origins came from the fact that, since we started this organization, Americans have approached us and wanted to do some kind of big rally or something, maybe out on the mall in front of the Capitol or something like that, some big display. That’s fine for some things, but really, truthfully, this is something that all Americans support, and there’s no reason why we can’t just show the support for this in our own communities without doing some kind of astroturf-type event where you’re renting buses and all that stuff and sending people up to the Capitol. Just all of us organically support tournaments on that day, and believe you, the politicians in our midst will see it. The bigger this is holiday grows and the more people do it around the country, the more that it’ll be recognized by the political class that this is important to us.
Philip Blumel: Now, they know from polling, they know from elections that Term Limits are very popular, but that’s not what really what we’re conveying here. What we’re conveying here is that we are engaged in the issue, that we’re watching, that this is a happening thing. The fact that we theoretically support it has no value. Their self-interest is gonna trump that every day. But if we’re showing them that we are engaged and watching them and putting pressure on them, that’s a different matter. They’ve seen the polling and they know this is overwhelming. If they’re being watched, they’re gonna feel pressure into taking some positive action.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, and it coincides perfectly with what we’re trying to accomplish right now, and that is get the Term Limits convention called through the state legislatures. It’s perfect timing to have Term Limits Day just as the National Term Limits Movement is building up a head of steam. We’ve got this convention now, it’s been introduced in seven states, and there’s eight more states on the way. So we’re hitting the ground running this year. Not only are your state legislators going to see these signs or hear from you, but they’re gonna connect that to what they’ve been hearing in their own state capitals. They’re gonna connect that with the legislation that’s being filed to Term Limit Congress, and it’s gonna have a very, very positive impact.
Scott Tillman: Hi, this is Scott Tillman, the national field director with the US Term Limits. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year. Special elections for 25 State legislative seats have already been scheduled in 16 different States, and in this January, we received pledges from 16 candidates in those races. There are also two special elections for Congress, both in Louisiana. This January, we received pledges from four candidates in those races. Candidates are getting great media attention when they sign the Term Limits pledge, if you have access to a candidate, please ask them to sign our pledge. Pledges are available at termlimits.com. Every two years, a new session of Congress starts and new legislation is introduced. This January, we are working again to get co-sponsors onto the Term Limits amendment resolution. At the same point, last cycle, we had 29 co-sponsors. The legislation introduced in the US House this year is HJR 12, and we currently have 48 co-sponsors. We’re making significant progress, search US Term Limits on Facebook, like and follow our national page and like and follow the page for your State. Thank you.
Philip Blumel: So Nick, around the States, and in Washington, what progress are we making on the Term Limits amendment bills?
Nick Tomboulides: A lot of progress, we have now been introduced in seven States, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, Arizona and Iowa, and it is pending in eight more states, which includes some heavy hitters, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. So what’s happening all over the country is State legislators are picking up the slack that Congress has left behind. They are taking action, we have realistic chances of passing this in several of these States, we have to temper expectations a little, of course, there will be challenges along the way. They’re always are in trying to move any legislation, much less Term Limits, but if you think about how far this movement has come just a few short years ago, there was no Term Limits Convention, States weren’t doing anything about this. All of the eggs were in the Congress basket. We were just beggars going to Washington DC and nothing was moving, but now you see tremendous activity and you see progress everywhere, so it is very, very exciting time to be a Term Limits activist.
Philip Blumel: That’s right. So one of the great benefits of what’s going on in the States is to put pressure on Washington to act. Ostensibly, these bills were passing in the state legislatures are calling for an amendment writing Convention under Article 5 of the US Constitution, where the States come get together and propose a Term Limits amendment that the States can thereby ratify and bypass the Congress, but Congress is watching this, and as this movement picks up steam, they’re gonna feel pressure to take action too. So they haven’t done a thing and it is against their self-interest to do a thing. So it’s gonna take a lot of pressure, but the pressure from 34 States just might do it.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, I was listening to the debate in Congress about the election results, and I have no political comment about that whatsoever to offer, however, I did note that in every single floor speech from every single Congressman or congresswoman, it was all about, Oh well, this is what the people want. We would be derelict in our duty if we didn’t listen to the people of this country and give them the president that they voted for, and I’m just here thinking, why don’t you give us the Term Limits that we voted for and that we support, and we tell you in every single poll over and over and over again, this is what we want, and yet you just continue to thumb your noses at us and defy the will of the people. It’s very disappointing, it is very hypocritical, but thankfully, with the Term Limits convention, we’re taking that power out of Congress’s hands, and we’re putting it in the hands of State Legislators who actually have the will and the guts to do something.
Philip Blumel: Excellent. Now, of course, as I mentioned, part of the reason is to put pressure on Congress, now we have the bill introduced for a Congressional Term Limits amendment in both houses now.
Nick Tomboulides: A key part of this strategy is the interplay between the states and the federal government, while you’ve got the Term Limits convention action going on in State legislatures, you’ve also got pressure coming at the federal level from members of Congress who support term limits. The US Term Limits amendment, which calls for three term limit in the house, two-term limit in the Senate has been filed in the US House, it’s got authorship by Congressman Ralph Norman of South Carolina, and the Senate counterpart has now been filed as Senate joint resolution three. It’s got supporters such as Senator Rick Scott, Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio. So we’re seeing action at the federal level as well.
Philip Blumel: Excellent.
Nick Tomboulides: I do have one more remark to offer on this, in the light of Term Limits day, when you go back and you look at how presidential term limits came to be in 1951, it didn’t actually start with Congress, believe it or not, the origin of presidential term limits, the genesis of it was organizing at the State level, before Congress ever proposed the amendment, several States past convention resolution saying, We want a convention to term limit the president. Congress saw the writing on the wall, they looked at that and they thought, You know, this is inevitable, it’s going to happen. We might as well just propose this amendment on our own. So the people who wanted Term Limits on the President and succeeded used the same strategy that we’re using today, and they were successful.
S?: This is a Public Service announcement.
Philip Blumel: On January 25th, the US Term Limits Congressional Amendment was introduced to the US Senate. It’s SJR3, and one of its first co-sponsors is Senator Rick Scott of Florida. In June of last year, Senator Scott made his case for term limits on Fox News as part of their Big Ideas series.
Rick Scott: We have term limits to presidents. Most governors have term limits. I just finished my years as Governor of Florida. We have term limits in our legislature there. We are gonna do the same thing up here. We will bring in new ideas, you will be very focused on getting things done, but I believe in term limits, as an example in the governor’s office because I knew that I had to get everything I wanted to get done in those eight years. Actually, I really figured I had to get it done my first four years. I was hoping I’d get re-elected and I was able to do that but I knew that there’s a limited amount of time, so it forced me to focus and get things done. I think we ought to be doing the exact same things up here. The president doesn’t have 30 years to get things done. The president has either four or eight years, and so I think Congress ought to be in the exact same position.
Rick Scott: You get new ideas. It’s not the same old ideas and the same people running everything. I think there ought to be a transition in leadership and I think there ought to be new ideas all the time. And as we know, whether you’re leading a company like what I used to do, my business life, you bring in new ideas and you know, “Hey, I’ve gotta get these things done as quickly as possible, because I don’t know how long I’ll be in this position.” So, we need new ideas. I mean look at where we are; we’ve got 25 trillion dollars worth of debt, we got Social Security that the trust funds running out, Medicare, the trust funds running out. We’ve gotta fix these things.
Rick Scott: What you know in business is that you have to focus on getting a return on whatever you’re doing. I ran a big public company, and you told the shareholders what you were gonna do, they wanted to know if you did it, and you had to give them information every 90 days. And so I run my life that way. I think, “Okay, I set a goal. How am I gonna get my goal done?” And I think that if you know you have limited amount of time, you’ll get more things done. If you set goals and you tell people what your goals are, there’s a greater chance something’s gonna get done.
Rick Scott: It’s hard to beat incumbents. I was able to do it in 2018, but it’s very difficult to beat an incumbent. So you get a job as a US Senator, you’re set… And by the way, it’s a pretty good deal. You’re guaranteed pay raises. There’s no term limits, you can be up here forever, and if you don’t do your job like you don’t pass a budget, you still get paid. So it’s crazy the way it works up here. It’s dysfunctional. You would never build a business like this, and you would never recreate your federal government like this. And by the way, the way that our government was set up in the beginning, it was supposed to be… It’s representative government and you were not supposed to be up here forever, we’re not supposed to have career politicians. You were gonna bring in people that were doing different things that come and run for office, represent their state or their district, and then go home. And also, you were not up here all year. We’re up here every month doing something.
Rick Scott: The Constitution doesn’t allow you to have term limits right now, so it basically sets the fact that you can continue to run forever if you want to, so we’d have to do an amendment. But we did that in Florida. It took a change in the Constitution in Florida and we were able to do that in Florida, and the public agrees with this. I don’t know people that don’t run. When they’re running for office, they’re all in favor of term limits. It’s just when they get up to DC, they oppose term limits. Ted Cruz, Mike Braun, Mike Lee, people like that, they’re clearly onboard. And if you ask people, most people say they’re for it. Question is will they do anything to move a bill along? It’s one thing to say you’re gonna do something, it’s another to actually go put the effort in, but this has been a big issue for Ted Cruz I think since he got up here.
Philip Blumel: Last year, we did a story on the podcast about a group of former legislators, Democrats and Republicans, more than half of which are working as lobbyists today, who filed suit against the people of Michigan and their term limits law, trying to overturn it using such a broad argument that it was a really outrageous measure. And it got a lot of press in Michigan at the time. Well, it just went through the process, and I know that you’ve seen the result.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, they have been defeated. The lawsuit has failed miserably. You lose, you get nothing. Good day, sir.
Philip Blumel: That’s right. It is true. This Grand Rapids federal district judge rejected the suit in no uncertain terms. In fact, it was dismissed with no merit and there were no oral arguments because the judge said that they were unnecessary. [laughter]
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, it was defeated during the pre-trial period, like during the motions.
Philip Blumel: Yeah, it was really outrageous. First of all, some of the arguments they made were the exact ones that were made back in 1998 the first time that Michigan lobbyists and legislators and anti-term limits folks got together and tried to sue over this. This is the second time it’s gone to federal courts and this is the second time the court said, “No, this is entirely legal,” and it passed. It exists in other states, now it’s been there for 30 years. And as the judge said, Judge Janet Neff, if the people don’t like it they can put a referendum on the ballot and overturn them.
Nick Tomboulides: That’s the thing; they know they can never win on the ballot. If you can’t beat them, cheat them. So they went to court and they decided they were gonna waste thousands of dollars in public funds trying to convince a judge that term limits are unconstitutional. It was embarrassing actually, because you had their lawyers in court and they’re trying to make a policy debate. That’s laughable. The court’s job is to apply the law, not make the law. I would say these guys should be almost disbarred or filing something so frivolous, it’s kind of against the code of ethics for an attorney. It’s a joke.
Philip Blumel: Yeah, it was really a Hail Mary by the lobbyists and political elite in Lancing, it really was. I read over the entire decision, which is not that long, and it’s got some pretty damning stuff in it, for one thing, one of the arguments that was made by the lobbyists and politicians was that this violates the Guarantee clause of the Constitution, and that the distinguishing feature of this is, “The right of the people to choose their own officers for governmental administration and pass their own laws.” Alright, think about that. So the right of the people, the Guarantee clause is to… Ensuring that we have Republican form of government, that people have the right to choose their officers and pass their own laws.
Nick Tomboulides: Can I ask you a question?
Philip Blumel: Yeah. [chuckle]
Nick Tomboulides: Were there any interesting laws passed by the people of Michigan directly in 1992 on the ballot?
Philip Blumel: Yeah, let’s call that the Term Limits Amendment [chuckle]
Nick Tomboulides: Oh my God.
Philip Blumel: And by the way, who since then has passed, some 30 years ago, who has been electing the officers in the State of Michigan since that time? The people?
Nick Tomboulides: The people.
Philip Blumel: Yeah. Okay, so this was a laughable one and judge Neff, just threw it out the window.
Nick Tomboulides: She did, and kudos to the Michigan Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson and the AG, Dana Nessel, two Democrats who were on the right side of history here, they had it right, you do not have a constitutional right to be a politician. Sorry, guys. Time to go home and get a real job.
Philip Blumel: That was one of the arguments. You took away my right to be a politician.
Nick Tomboulides: Here’s the thing with Michigan though, ’cause this just keeps coming up over and over again, sometimes it’s a lawsuit, sometimes it’s murmurs in the capital, sometimes it’s op-eds, fake town halls, and it’s like they have a weird dynamic. There was not a single normal Michigan person supporting this lawsuit, they were all insiders, there were no ordinary people even supporting it publicly. And Michigan has this dynamic where 10 million people live there, and of that 10 million, 9,999,000 love Term Limits, 1000 people in Michigan hate Term Limits, but those 1000 people, they’re the ruling elites, they are the bureaucrats, legislators, the lobbyists, the pundits, the reporters, they’re the people with the biggest megaphones, biggest platforms, and then they go out, they create this illusion in the press that ordinary people have a problem with Term Limits, it could not be further from the truth, and it was glorious to see the court smack them down.
Philip Blumel: Thanks for joining us for another weekly episode of No Uncertain Terms. For this week’s action item, I point you to a great new tool, found at termlimits.com/take action. This site is a progress report of all of our target states for advancing the term limits convention bills in 2021. The site will tell you where the term limits convention bill stands in your state, whether it’s been introduced or even passed one or more committee votes, so you can track its progress. If it’s been introduced in your state, there’s a Take Action button which allows you to quickly and easily send the relevant legislators a message urging them to support the bill. It will take two minutes. You can find this progress report at termlimits.com/take action. Thank you and happy Term Limits Day, February 27th. We’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: The revolution isn’t being televised, fortunately, you have the No Uncertain Terms podcast.