Philip Blumel: The light bulbs are turning on above their heads.
Philip Blumel: Hello, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits Movement for the week of December 6th, 2021.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: Across the country, state legislators are being educated about Article V of the US Constitution. Just over the last month, legislators attended conferences in Tampa, Florida and San Diego, California, where they participated in discussion and debate about using the state’s constitutional power to propose and ratify amendments to fix a broken Washington DC. And when Article V comes up, term limits, the most popular and important political reform is always part of the discussion. Let’s get some details from Nick Tomboulides, Executive Director of US Term Limits. Hey, Nick.
Nick Tomboulides: Hey, Phil. Happy Hanukkah.
Philip Blumel: Oh, thank you very much, Nick. Merry Christmas to you.
Nick Tomboulides: Thank you.
Philip Blumel: Yeah. Over the last few months…
Philip Blumel: Over the last few months, state legislators have been educated on this issue of the Article V convention method of proposing amendments to the US Constitution, and there’s been a couple of meetings by major legislative organizations across the country in which this came up. The first was the National Conference of State Legislators, they had a national meeting in November and the issue came up there.
Nick Tomboulides: That’s right. And nowadays, if you’re a state legislator, it’s likely that you are learning about term limits, hearing about Term Limits Convention from many different directions. And at the National Conference of State Legislators in Tampa, the featured speaker there was someone we know very well. It’s a former US Term Limits Amendment lead sponsor in Congress, current governor of Florida, possible future presidential candidate, Ron DeSantis.
Philip Blumel: Yeah.
Nick Tomboulides: And he had quite a bit to say about the Term Limits Convention.
Philip Blumel: Why don’t we roll it and then let’s talk about it?
Ron DeSantis: When I went for Congress in 2012, we had 11 trillion in debt. Now, we’re at 30 trillion dollars. That’s more debts, twice as much debt just in the last 10 years than we did over the entire history of our country. You look at what they do, how they legislate, they literally… If you’re a regular member of Congress, you don’t even get to read the legislation until like five hours before. So they’ll put 2000 pages there and you gotta figure it out. It’s all done by an elite cadre of people in the leadership and you see people that have been there forever like Pelosi and all this stuff. And the question is, nothing’s really changing. And even when Republicans took over, we still would do… They criticized Pelosi in 2010 for all her shenanigans and rightfully so, then we get elected, I’m there, they were doing the same stuff as Republicans.
Ron DeSantis: And so I look to say what can states do to give people a voice in this and one of the things that Florida has done is we’ve certified a constitutional amendment for term limits for members of Congress. And I think that that’s something that is very, very important because at the end of the day what we have at the state level, which I supported at the state level too, is we have people come in, you know… Simpson knows he’s gonna have two years, our Speaker of the House has two years and then it rotates in. So all the incentives are to get things done and to leave a legacy, not just to hold power for power’s sake. And so the result is we’re able to get a lot done, I think people are more in touch with their voters as a result. And so in Washington, if you had term limits in Congress well all these people that cause all the problems, they would not even be there anymore. And I can tell you, people will say, “Well, then the lobbyist run the show.” That’s already happening the bureaucracy is already running the show, Congress has not disciplined the bureaucracy or done anything.
Nick Tomboulides: That’s a great clip.
Philip Blumel: Yeah.
Nick Tomboulides: That is what my generation calls a mic drop.
Philip Blumel: [chuckle] You’ll have to explain that.
Nick Tomboulides: Well, look, he wasted no opportunity there, he took Congress to task. Some great stuff. He said, “Republicans in Congress are just as bad as Democrats.” He said, “Nobody is reading the bills.” He said, “Leadership’s controlling everything. Lobbyists run the whole show.” These are things that state legislators need to hear, because he is deflating all of the biggest objections to congressional term limits. Objections, of course, that nobody, no average American believes, but objections that politicians have been trained to believe. And so he resolved those objections very well, and then he took it right back to term limits, he pointed out, Florida was the first state legislature to call for the Term Limits Convention. Since then, three more have done it, all these votes have been bipartisan. I thought it was a great message.
Philip Blumel: Yeah, that is great. It’s easy to rail against Washington DC, everyone does it from every point of view. But he came there to talk to legislators about a solution. And not just a general solution, but a solution that those legislators in the room have the power to implement. Because if we’re gonna get term limits on the US Congress, the most likely route is through the state capitals. And these state legislators, if they haven’t already, are gonna be voting on bills to apply officially for the Term Limits Convention, where a term limits amendment will be proposed. So he’s talked to the right people and he’s the right guy to do it. He is a true term limits hero.
Nick Tomboulides: He really is. And he chose his audience well. This is a guy who gives 5 speeches a day to different groups, and he doesn’t talk about term limits that much, but here, he knew. These are the power brokers, these are the people who can go back to their states and have the ability to pass the Term Limits Convention, to introduce the resolution, co-sponsor it, pass it through committees, bring it to the floor and really make this happen. And so he gave the message he knew that they needed to hear. He did a fantastic job, and he’s got the pedigree to prove that he’s a true bonafide term limit supporter. He was a real champion for us in Congress. He spoke about term limits on the campaign trail while I was running for governor. He’s obviously stood strong by Florida’s term limits throughout his first three years in office. So you just love to see it.
Philip Blumel: Yeah, I do. And this wasn’t the only flare-up of the Term Limits Convention issue among state legislators. Just last week, in San Diego, the American Legislative Exchange Council had their national conference, and they spent an entire day dedicated to discussing and learning about how Article V of the US Constitution works and how it could be applied to help fix Washington.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. This was actually a partnership between David Biddulph of the Let Us Vote for a BBA, Balanced Budget Amendment organization and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. They teamed up to bring a couple hundred legislators together for a special Article V academy, where they are learning a lot more about the Article V process, what the states have to do, what are the safeguards in the process, how exactly it works, and then what are the specific amendments that people are proposing. And just a few weeks after Ron DeSantis got to address these legislators on term limits, our very own Ron Hooper, USTL Regional Director, had the chance to speak to the similar group at the ALEC conference, and I think we have the clip of this as well.
Philip Blumel: Let’s hear it.
Ron Hooper: When you take a look at the popularity of term limits, I’m amazed at the popularity. If it was up to the voters, this would be done by now. Over 80% average overall. Our latest polls, the biggest growth has been with Independents and Democrats. We’ve always been popular among Republicans, but now all of a sudden, we’re starting to see that move forward, and in the business world, this would be called a monopoly. And we worked real hard to get a 35% business model because that was a major market. And here we got in this high 80% level, and we need to really realize how popular this is and how that can really move forward.
Ron Hooper: We’ve been here for a long time. I’ve been here a couple of years, so I’m the newbie in the group. We want to limit both Houses of Congress, just like the 22nd that limits the president. It’s that simple. And we’ll do whatever is necessary to get that done. As you know, we’ve had several sponsors of our bills in Congress. This year, in the 117th Congress, Ted Cruz, along with 10 other sponsors, sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 3, and in the House, Representative Norman, along with about 50 other co-signers, sponsored the House Resolution 12. And so we knew that that’s been going on for years and years and years. It never makes it anywhere because it’s not going to. It’s just not going to change because they’re not going to vote to limit themselves through Congress. We have 40 members of the House that have been there for 40 years. 40 years!
Ron Hooper: Congress is not gonna fix this. It’s not in their best interest to fix it. They really do not have the power to fix it. They just can’t get together enough, nor would they want to, to get this fixed. Congress won’t term limit themselves, that’s just not gonna happen. State legislatures are unique, and it really shows that Congress can’t do this, Supreme Court can’t do this, it takes 38 states. This is the ultimate authority in states. States have got to step up and seize and execute on this authority given to them. It was there for a reason, and it’s to stop exactly what’s going on in Washington DC right now.
Nick Tomboulides: And what’s happening there is just fantastic because term limits are everywhere. We’re generating a buzz, whether it’s Ron Hooper or Ron DeSantis. The movement is growing and that means politicians won’t be able to ignore it.
Philip Blumel: Nope. And these are the guys that need to hear the message the most. Good work, everyone.
Aaron: ILTV+, your news from Israel and more, 24/7. Start your free trial today. Subscribe at iltv.tv and watch from any device.
Aaron: Alright. Now, speaking of adjustments to Knesset bylaws, Israeli cabinet ministers, on Sunday, unanimously approving of a draft bill that would set term limits for the Office of the Prime Minister. The proposal put forth by Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar of the New Hope Party who promised to take on this issue while he was still in the campaign trail. And while the bill will still need to pass through three Knesset votes in order to become a basic law, it is expected to pass. Now, under the terms of the draft, a prime minister would be forced to resign after eight years in office or two full terms in power, and also a premier would need to step down after serving two terms that followed two elections. Now, returning for our discussion, Rabbi Dov Lipman, former Knesset member from the Yesh Atid party. Rabbi, thanks again so much for sticking with us. Now, in your opinion, do we need here in Israel term limits on the Prime Minister’s Office?
Rabbi Dov Lipman: I do believe that we need it. As someone who grew up in the United States and knows the story of how after George Washington’s first two terms, the people begged him to stay on and he said, “This is exactly what we were fighting against when we broke away from the British.” There’s something in what happens to a leader after being in a position for a certain period of time where it doesn’t seem like all the decisions that are being made necessarily made with the same freshness and idealism when they came in. And by the way, the one person who I know who spoke about this in the past was actually former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that anything that you’re gonna accomplish, you should accomplish within your first eight years anyways. So I’m definitely, as someone who grew up in America, supportive of it. I looked back at the last number of years, and I’m not getting into discussion about pro-Netanyahu, anti-Netanyahu, I’m just speaking about this specific issue, it’s strange that children grew up and they only knew of one person as the leader and therefore couldn’t even imagine anyone else leading the country. I don’t think that’s a good thing for democracy. I certainly don’t think it’s a good thing for Israel. So I certainly support the bill, and I certainly hope that it goes through, and that it’s implemented in the future.
Aaron: Is it still a true democracy though, because aren’t elections, in a sense, a form of these term limits?
Rabbi Dov Lipman: On a certain level, that’s true, but again, you can ask that question about other countries from the United States, which is an example of democracy, where you have that rule in place. I think that there are times that you have to say there’s steps that we can take, that are best for the country, even if it goes against what the people might want, and a large reason for that is what we’ve seen over the last number of years where certainly, large numbers of people in Israel, the largest number of people in Israel wanted Netanyahu to continue as a Prime Minister. But given the situation of the number of years that he was in, he was incapable of forming a government, and that caused the stalemate that we were in.
Rabbi Dov Lipman: There are times when, yes, even the Knesset, the elected body can make decisions that does take away the right to vote from the people. By the way, the same thing applies to the possibility of not allowing someone to run if they’re under indictment. People say the same thing. It’s a democracy. If they wanna run, no. There are certain values that we run by, and those values say, hopefully that someone who’s under indictment, cannot run as Prime Minister and that would be the case over here as well, where we say that for the sake of democracy, for protecting democracy. To make sure we have a healthy and vibrant democracy, we’re actually gonna prevent certain people from running after they’ve been in a position for a number of years.
Aaron: Alright. Well, there are other arguments against term limits of course, I’m playing devil’s advocate. They include that they take choices away from voters by actually preventing otherwise qualified candidates from seeking re-election. Another issue is that experience is necessary for compromise and good governance, but with term limits, proper relations don’t have enough time to develop. And of course, likewise, officials under term limits tend to be by default less experienced, at least in politics, meaning that they’ll be more likely to lean on unelected individuals like analysts, policy experts, lobbyists, etcetera, to make their decisions. Do you see an issue with any of these arguments?
Rabbi Dov Lipman: I don’t. Because once a leader knows that he cannot continue in office beyond his two terms, he’ll do the next step, which is to prepare people in their party to take over as leader, which doesn’t happen right now. Right now, because a leader can think, “I can stay in office as long as I want,” not only is there no effort to prepare anyone else to come through the ranks and take over as Prime Minister, there are actually attempts to squelch those who have the potential to become Prime Minister from advancing within the party or within the Knesset. So I think this will build in a wonderful system where a leader will know they need to bring people up within the ranks if they want their party to stay in power with their ideals, and that will enable those people to gain the necessary experience, take over the reigns once that leader has to move aside because of the term limits.
Aaron: Alright. So why not put some sort of term limit on all of the Knesset?
Rabbi Dov Lipman: I could see that. [chuckle] I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think it’s healthy for people to sit in the position of the Knesset for decades, which some people do. I think that when you first come in, you’re filled with, like I mentioned before, you wanna change things, you wanna get things done, and then at a certain point, it does just become a job. So I would certainly support such a measure, by the way, I would say the same thing, I’m not a US citizen and I have no ability to tell anyone what to do. But I don’t think what I read about the founding of the United States, I think the idea of the House of Representatives was that regular people from amidst the population would go every two years and serve there, but not be re-elected over and over again, time after time, and be there for decades. So Aaron, I would certainly support a measure like that, both in Knesset, both in municipal, the leadership as well, I think that’s important in order to have a freshness and a newness, and it also prevents a lot of the corruption, which unfortunately has crept into Israeli politics and politicians.
Aaron: Alright. Rabbi Dov Lipman, thank you so much for joining us.
Philip Blumel: Thanks for joining us for another episode of No Uncertain Terms. The Term Limits Convention bills are moving through the state legislatures. This could be a breakthrough year for the Term Limits Movement. To check on the status of the Term Limits Convention resolution in your state, go to termlimits.com/takeaction. There, you will see if it has been introduced and where it stands in the committee process on its way to the floor vote. If there’s action to take, you’ll see a Take Action button by your state. Click it. This will give you the opportunity to send a message to the most relevant legislators, urging them to support the legislation. They have to know you’re watching. That’s termlimits.com/takeaction. If your state has already passed the Term Limits Convention resolution or the bill has not been introduced in your state, you can still help. Please consider making a contribution to US Term Limits. It is our aim to hit the reset button on the US Congress and you can help. Go to termlimits.com/donate, termlimits.com/donate. Thanks. We’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: Find us on most social media @USTermLimits. Like us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and now TikTok.
Philip Blumel: USTL.