Philip Blumel: Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has resigned.
Philip Blumel: Hi I’m Philip Blumel, welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits Movement for the week of February 22, 2021.
Speaker 2: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: Last week, Term Limits Convention Bill started getting hearings on the relevant committees and the roughly dozen states where they’ve been introduced for 2021, we saw resolutions be approved in all of their first committee stops, in Arizona, Georgia and North Dakota, which state will be the first to the finish line, we will discuss. Also how speaker Michael Madigan of Illinois served his last day in office on Friday. Let’s get started. Happy Term Limits Day everyone, we have a lot of action in the States, and it turns out as February 27 approaches that it is going to be a Happy Term Limits Day. Unfortunately, US Term Limits Executive Director Nick Tomboulides is not here to share his insights with us, and of course he knows all the details, but the reason he’s not with us today is a good one, he is too busy shepherding these bills through state legislatures across the country, him and the rest of the US Term Limits team. So it’s just me today. I have a few notes to share on the late-breaking news, and hopefully we’ll get some more color on this next week. The first good news came on Tuesday, February 16, when the Arizona Senate Government Committee passed the Term Limits Convention Bill, the first committee victory so far in 2021, the resolution was sponsored by Senator Kelly Townsend, who is a long-time Term Limits hero in Arizona, has been working this issue forever, and she got through this committee. Congratulations Kelly.
Philip Blumel: And she was supported by Senators Borelli, Mesnard, Petersen and Ugenti-Rita, amongst the “No” votes, which gave us a little bit of drama, were Senators Mendez, Quezada and Peshlakai. Well, Senator Jamescita Peshlakai, reneged on her pledge that she had signed prior to the election, when she promised to co-sponsor, vote for and defend the term limits resolution, and then when it came to a vote on Tuesday, she voted no. It was not enough to make it lose but it was enough to make her break her word to her constituents, and there will be repercussions for that, which we’ll report on in future episodes of No Uncertain Terms. It will be interesting to see how voters react when they’ve been informed. Then, the next day, Wednesday, in the Arizona House, the government and Elections Committee passed HCR 2015, house version of the Term Limits Convention Bill. It was a close vote at seven to six, both of these resolutions are expected to be voted on in their respective chambers as early as maybe next week. Congratulations to US Term Limits Arizona State Director, Jim Olivi. You’re doing a good job out there, Jim. Aah, but there’s more. Let’s look at Georgia, where a Senate Committee passed the Term Limits Resolution Bill.
Philip Blumel: This would be the Senate Government Oversight Committee, SR28’s the bill, and it was sponsored by Senator Bill Cowsert and co-sponsored with 16 other lawmakers in the Georgia Senate, the citizens have a great team working for them in Georgia with Senator Bill Cowsert, also the US Term Limits State Chair, Dr. John Cowan and our own Ken Quinn, all three of which gave great testimony in front of this committee and convinced it to pass the resolution, particularly notable I think is Dr. John Cowan, who told the committee, there are four co-equal branches of government, the collective state legislatures have the power to serve as a check and balance on an out-of-control federal government, passing SR28 for Term Limits on Congress puts Georgia at the forefront of exercising its constitutional obligation. Well put. It’s also worth listening to this clip from Senator Bill Cowsert in which he makes the case for the Term Limits Resolution.
Bill Cowsert: So if you look at the first resolution 28, it deals with term limits on the United States Congress. This does not apply to the state of Georgia or your job in any way, it’s the United States Congress, the representatives and senators. And so you can see pretty quickly, it’s unlikely that a sitting US Senator or sitting Congressman is going to ask the people of the United States to limit their length of time they can serve in office, but we’re in a time right now with really… And I think many people would share the view that we have dysfunction going on in DC, such extreme partisan bickering, we have such institutionalized embedded politicians there that sometimes seem to be more worried about themselves and keeping their seats than serving us as people. And that’s not the way Congress started. We had a citizen legislature in the United States Congress, just like we do here in the state of Georgia, when this country was founded. Farmers would leave their fields and they would go serve a two-year term in Congress, it was not a full-time job originally, it was much like us where they would meet only certain months of the year and do the people’s business and then go back to their jobs, well it evolved over time into a full-time job, where they live and breathe the political process 24/7, so to speak, and these guys get dug in, guys and gals, and it is extraordinarily rare to see an incumbent be beaten out.
Bill Cowsert: Part of the reason that is because of the fund-raising disparity, incumbents get the money, that’s the safe bet for somebody wanting to influence legislation is to support the incumbent, because over 90% of the time the incumbent wins. It’s rare to see a loss and that’s largely because of that fundraising leverage or advantage that they have. And what that ends up doing is giving the special interest groups outsized influence in policy passed by the United States government. When they develop these relationships with the sitting senators and congressmen, continuously back them and you end up having a much narrower view of the world being presented. By imposing term limits, you do a couple of things. One is you limit these long-term fixtures in Congress, but they go serve their length of term that the limit might end up being. And by the way, this bill does not specify a certain number of terms to be limited. That should be decided by the convention of states as they are working out and negotiating and debating what limits should be proposed to put on congressmen and senators.
Bill Cowsert: There are a lot of people that say it ought to be six terms of two years, or two senate terms of six years each. So maybe 12 years is enough. I don’t have a personal preference. I just think this subject matter needs to be addressed, so we need to decide do we wanna have permanent Congress-people and senators, or do we want them to go in saying, “I’m gonna go serve my country for no longer than a finite period of time,” that we could amend the constitution to put that limit. There are other people that wanna speak to this resolution here today that have been devoted to this cause for many years, but from my perspective, I would just say that’s the idea here that states ought to be able to meet in a convention and propose an amendment to be ratified by three-fourths of the states that would designate what appropriate limits there should be on service in Congress, service in the United States Senate.
Philip Blumel: Then on Friday, the North Dakota house government and Veterans Affairs Committee also held hearings and approved the measure. Moments later, we got word that the Iowa resolution was referred to its state government committee where it’s expected to be voted on next week. Committees are just steps in the process. It’s the floor votes that count, and we have to get both houses of each of these legislatures, but these are steps along the way, and right now we’re batting 1000. We have a lot to celebrate on this February 27th Term Limits day. So let’s go out and do it.
Scott Tillman: Hello, this is Scott Tillman, the national field director with US Term Limits. We asked candidates for Congress to sign a pledge that will help us get a term limits amendment into the constitution. The pledge reads, “I pledge that as a member of Congress, I will co-sponsor and vote for the US Term Limits amendment of three house terms and two Senate terms and no longer limit.” Every two years when a new session of Congress starts, the term limits amendment is introduced again. The current resolution number is HJR-12 in the US House, and we currently have 57 co-sponsors. At the same point last cycle, we only had 32 co-sponsors. So we are definitely making progress. You can help by contacting your representative and asking them to sign our term limits pledge and to co-sponsor HJR-12. For more ways you can help 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: In other news, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, the longest serving speaker in American history has resigned from the Illinois House. This comes a month after he was deposed by his fellow Democrats as Speaker. Of course, the 78-year-old law-maker, as you know from previous podcasts, is embroiled in a Federal corruption investigation, which is getting hotter and hotter. Basically, he’s blaming everyone else but himself, but it looks like the federal investigators have their fingers pointed at him. So after 50 years, this long-time enemy of term limits is finally leaving office against his will. His power over the state started to slip back in July when the giant utility Commonwealth Edison agreed to pay a $200 million fine after the firm admitted that it had given no-show jobs and high paid internships and other deceptive illegal payments to cronies of speaker Madigan, and now the firm is completely cooperating with federal prosecutors. So far, speaker Madigan himself has not been indicted, but four other of his cronies have been including the CEO of ComEd itself and Madigan’s foremost political confidant, the former lawmaker and lobbyist Michael McClain. Madigan is in line for an annual pension of over $85000 upon retirement, but that’s gonna jump up to $148000 a year starting in July of 2022.
Philip Blumel: Critics of term limits often bemoan the experience lost when a long-term lawmaker like Madigan leaves a legislature. After 50 years, certainly he’s learned an awful lot about politics and has a great amount of experience. But we see also that Illinois is one of the worst performing states in the United States under any economic measure, a fact underscored by the near junk rating of the state’s bonds. Term limits supporters on the other hand say that there’s many kinds of experience. Experience from the real world and working in professions and having a broader understanding of way the world works is as valuable or more valuable than political experience, and that very long political experience has a close correlation with arrogance, hubris, and corruption. Michael Madigan’s career is a case study showing that term limit supporters are right.
Philip Blumel: In honor of Term Limits Day, February 27, let’s consider the 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution, which was ratified on February 27, 1951. In this episode of the YouTube series, the constitution for dummies, Hip Hughes tells the story in the episode titled The 22nd Amendment Explained. Take it away, Hip.
Hip Hughes: The 22nd Amendment, Section one, no person shall be elected to the office of the president more than twice. And no person who has held the office of president or acted as president for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected president shall be elected to the office of the president more than once. Section two, this articles shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission to the states by the Congress.
Hip Hughes: So there you go guys, the 22nd Amendment, better known as the no more than two term amendment, like I said, was ratified in 1951 following the death of FDR, who of course served four terms. We’ll get to that in a second. The easiest way to remember the amendment, if you’re doing the memorization game for school or Jeopardy or something like that, is just keep saying 22 two, 22, two two 22, two two 22, no more than 22, no two terms. Of course, the 22nd Amendment was part of what we call the unwritten constitution previous to its ratification in the early 1950s and unwritten just means that it was kind of traditional, that we kind of follow the lead of the precedents of the previous presidents, this all begins really with George Washington’s farewell address. As he leaves the nation, he eloquently steps down after two terms, referring a little bit to his age, but also kind of to the idea that, “Look, man, nobody should be doing this forever.”
Hip Hughes: So of course, after Washington steps down, we have a one termer in John Adams, but then Thomas Jefferson does basically the same thing in his farewell address when he steps down after two terms, Madison and Monroe, also two terms presidents don’t seek third terms and even the Democrat Andrew Jackson, he steps down after his second term as well. Now that’s not to say that there weren’t some brief episodes where some candidates played with the idea of three terms. I believe Grant tried to run again in 1880, that would have been a third term kind of deal. We also had Grover Cleveland in 1896, who kind of played with the idea and Teddy Roosevelt, of course, the Bull Moose Party in 1912, that would have been his third term as well, it’s just they never got past the primary really, so it wasn’t a serious consideration and of course, it’ll be FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was elected in 1932, kind of to combat the great depression. By 1940, when he’s running for his third term, and the United States is really kind of at the cliff of war with Germany, this is the lend and lease act, the early 1940s, late 1930s, where we’re really starting to get sucked into the European theatre.
Hip Hughes: And FDR kind of played it, like if it was any other time I’d step down, totally true, totally true. But since we’re at war it’s really not a great idea to shift Commander-in-Chiefs, that would be unsafe, so it’s best to stay with me. Just happens to be me. So you know, what are you gonna do? And then of course, he’s re-elected in 1944, and this is really where we first start to hear serious ideas about a constitutional amendment, in 1944 it was Republican governor of New York, Thomas Dewey who’s running against FDR, who brings up the idea that maybe we need to amend the constitution, saying something as 16 years or four terms is kind of like really the biggest threat to democracy and freedom we’ve ever seen. And of course, he loses, and then FDR has a hemorrhage and dies. Unfortunately for FDR, of course. But the idea here now is that we have a chance to write that sucker down, and the amendment procedure kicks off, I believe in March of 1947, and by February 27 of 1951, we have enough states to ratify that baby. So nothing too much else. I don’t know, 12th Amendment, I guess the 12th Amendment, of course, has language in there, that no person who is not constitutionally eligible to be president can be vice president.
Hip Hughes: So if somebody in a party says, for instance, could be… Let’s say, could Bill Clinton come back and be vice president for Hillary Clinton? And the answer would be no, because the 12th Amendment bars that, the language being no person constitutionally not eligible for President, and of course, Bill Clinton wouldn’t be eligible for president because of the 22nd amendment, which would make him, bam, ineligible to be the vice president. One side note is the section two part, that puts that deadline on there, that’s the first amendment to have kind of a deadline, it says seven years. And that was because of a recent Supreme Court ruling, Coleman versus Miller 1939, that ruled for an amendment process to not go on forever, you need an expiration date, otherwise, if you kick it to the States, you could rattle around there for, I don’t know, upwards of hundred and ninety seven years. You should go look at the 27th amendment. There you go, guys.
Philip Blumel: Thank you for joining us for another weekly episode of No Uncertain Terms. Don’t forget, Term Limits Day is February 27th. That’s this Saturday. It’s time to show public support for Term Limits by wearing our Term Limits t-shirts, hats and buttons this week. If you’re storing a Term Limits sign in your garage from last year maybe, now is the time to put it out on your lawn. Let’s remind all the politicians in our midst, that we not only support Term Limits, they know that after all, they’ve seen the polls, but that we are engaged with the issue and that we’re watching them. Be sure to send out a Happy Term Limits Day February 27 post on your social media this week. If you include a pic of you sporting Term Limits swag, that’s even better, maybe a picture of your house with the Term Limits sign out front. Thank you. We’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: The revolution isn’t being televised. Fortunately, you have the No Uncertain Terms podcast.