Philip Blumel: Here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the term limits movement for the week of January 31st, 2022.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: US Rep. Ralph Norman represents the fifth district in South Carolina in the US Congress. He also represents nearly 90% of the American people as the lead sponsor of the congressional term limits amendment resolution. We spoke with Representative Norman last week.
Philip Blumel: Hello, Representative Norman, welcome to the show.
Rep. Ralph Norman: Glad to be here, Philip. Thank you so much for having me.
Philip Blumel: Let’s start out with a little bit about yourself before we get into the subject here. I know you represent the fifth district in South Carolina, you were elected to the US Congress in 2017. What did you do in private life before US Congress?
Rep. Ralph Norman: Well, I’m a real estate developer by trade. We developed… Initially started housing, single-family housing development, then went into the commercial development of shopping centers and hotels, which is primarily like what we’re doing now. I came in to the state legislature in 2005, the same year Nikki Haley, ran for the state office and was elected as a house member. So served about four terms there, and then when Mick Mulvaney went to OMB, decided to run for the seat.
Philip Blumel: Okay. Nikki Haley is a big supporter of term limits as well. [chuckle]
Rep. Ralph Norman: Oh yeah, Nikki has been right on, not only with the way she governs the state, she’s been right on when she was with the United Nations, she’s been right on just about every topic that’s ever thrown her way.
Philip Blumel: Good deal. Well, I was excited to speak with you today. I’m informed by the US Term Limits team that you are one of, if not the most committed sponsor, that the congressional term limits amendment resolution has ever had in the house, and we’ve had some stars. Ron DeSantis, now governor of Florida, when he was in the house, was the sponsor of this bill. Where did your fire on this issue come from?
Rep. Ralph Norman: Well, a couple of things. One, when I was in the state legislature, you had people who had been in… Holding office for 20, 30, some even 40 years. And the same that I’m seeing now in Congress, you have people serving as in Joe Biden, for half a century, and now, so many members who have served for 25, 30 years. And everything has a time limit on it. If you’re a commercial pilot, when you turn 65, you have to give it up. And to go to… Whether it’s a state legislature or to Washington and live off the tax payers dime is unconscionable to me. And that’s not how the Constitution was set up. If you look at the favorable rating with residents… I mean, with voters, it’s 90-something percent.
Philip Blumel: Now the 78 co-sponsors on the bill, that’s HJR 12, and I might know that there’s 18 senators who have signed on to the Senate version as well. This is the most co-sponsors the resolution has had at one time. So we’re getting a little bit of mechanics here, how do you and your team solicit support for the bill? Are you knocking on doors in the capital or are Congress members coming to you? How does that work?
Rep. Ralph Norman: Both ways. Typically, I will see a member that somebody else has talked to or that I know has supported it in the past, and signed the term limits pledge when he ran for office.
Philip Blumel: Oh, right.
Rep. Ralph Norman: And when you mention that, not only did they sign the bill, sign the term limits pledge, but there’s a 95% approval rating of voters. What’s wrong with signing on to it, particularly with… We’ve got a lot of young members coming on, which is a good thing, and so when we hear names, I’ll reach out to ’em, I call ’em. We will hopefully add another 10 to 20 over the next 60 to 90 days based on conversations I’ve had.
Philip Blumel: Yeah. Well, based on standards of the US Congress, you are a young member by the way.
Rep. Ralph Norman: Well, Congress will age you, I will tell you that.
Philip Blumel: I believe it, I believe it. Is it ever uncomfortable talking about this issue with fellow Congress members? Yeah, it sounds great when they’re saying it to the voters. I know that’s an [0:04:37.7] ____ implaused line and it has that polling as you mentioned, but it also would directly affect the fellow member you’re talking to. Is that ever an issue with talking to fellow members?
Rep. Ralph Norman: No, because I think deep down, Philip, people know it’s right. When you see members in the hallways, who can barely move around because of their age. And it’s just… Everything has a time limit on it. And the framers of the constitution, I think were people that went to work, made a living, and then politics was something… Is a service to ’em, but when they finished their day, they came home. We’ve expanded government so much it’s got to be a career. And the only way to do it is to mandate it like this and the only way to do it.
Rep. Ralph Norman: And we answer all the time, the critics who say, “Well, every two years we have term limits ’cause the voters can put us out of office.” My argument would be, “Look at the amount of money that goes into campaigns.” It’s tough to go to run for office and then it’s tough to beat an incumbent because of the money that they get, a lot of times from voting a certain way. But you need to have to go home and work under some of these laws that you’ve passed and you get out of touch with the American people if you don’t.
Philip Blumel: You make a good point about the money. Statistically in the House, where you are, the candidate that raises the most money wins the seat over 90% the time. And interesting also, there’s ’cause another 90 number, is the fact that an incumbent running for their own seat wins over 90% of the time, and of course, these numbers are practically the same because there’s so much overlap.
Rep. Ralph Norman: It is. And I’ve seen in Congress, you can get buried where people can’t really follow your votes if you’re not really paying attention. The American people wanna send us up to Congress to particularly now, provide limited government, return freedom to the people, and to come home. Unless you have something mandated, it’s just not gonna happen. I tried to get a… And I think it was in 2019, it put on the ballot. Just simply ask a question on the ballots that went out, “Would you like to have term limits?” And I couldn’t get that passed. But I think now, it’s a new day, I think now with what’s happening with Joe Biden, and his cognitive decline, based on his age, people are having an open ear to it. And I think we’ll eventually get there.
Philip Blumel: I think you’re right. Now polls show that a supermajority of Democrats as well as Republicans support congressional term limits. That 90% number you threw out there, that’s includes everybody. But now, most of the co-sponsors of your resolution are Republicans. Why is that? Why do you think that is?
Rep. Ralph Norman: Well, I think most people, most conservatives that identify with the Republican Party know it’s right. I think you’ve got a lot of Democrats who are typically big government, particularly now, that the one serving now, they’re radical big government people, they were put up by groups that basically do the bidding for them. And they put a lot of money into campaigns, and they pretty much control the candidates. We need people who are not controlled by anybody. But I think the Democrats, if they really believe in the fact that they’re for the people, they wanna help the masses, then put yourself out there, Sir, for a fixed period of time. And as our bill… The bill I have, and the one that Senator Cruz has… Six years in the house, two terms of Senate, 12 years.
Rep. Ralph Norman: Once we get enough signatures, we can debate, should it be what particular number is magical? Should it be 10 years? Should it be 12 years in the House? Should it be three terms in the Senate? We can have that debate, as well as when it takes effect. And, from what I’m hearing, people will really buy into it if it takes effect after their… It’s tacked on to the current term. So, let’s just say we pay a six, three-term for the house. Somebody has been in there 10 years, they effectively can serve 16 years. Which I find… I just want a number that goes into the Constitution as mandated. And we’ll send the right signal to this country that you can’t go to Washington, DC and live off the government forever.
Philip Blumel: Right. Well, we definitely agree with you on that. And the fact that the past years don’t count is fine, the date of the term limit, it will come. And plus it probably takes some preparation, too, for all the turnover and seats. So, I think you’re definitely right about that. So, you’re seeing a disconnect between the Democratic politicians in office and the Democrats on the street? Because the ones in office are not joining your bill, and the ones in the street are highly supportive. I want to throw out a little positive note, though, because even though there’s one Democrat, as you know, on the bill right now, there’s a couple more coming down the pike. We’ve got Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick from South Florida, who won a special election this year to replace Alcee Hastings. She’s signed the US Term Limits pledge to support your bill. And so did representative Jared Golden of Maine, another Democrat who was elected in 2019… Hasn’t gotten on the bill yet, but presumably will shortly. How helpful is the pledge that we’re handing around in getting convincing Congress members to sign on as a co-sponsor to your bill?
Rep. Ralph Norman: It’s very helpful. You can’t have enough of them that are spread around. And now, part of the reasons, the ones… There’s a disconnect with the Democrat on the street and the Democrat that’s serving, is so polarized right now. If you look at the last 12 months, I mean, look at what’s happened to this country, and it’s hard to imagine the Democrats that are voting for this socialist legislation, and it’s pretty polarized. Now, the Democrat on the street, you don’t see it up close and personal like I see it. It’s hard to have a conversation when you talk to a Democrat who votes for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act which takes away photo voter ID, and support same-day voter registration, or pick any of the boondoggles that this administration has had, the invasion at the border, the withdrawal of Afghanistan… The list goes on and on. So it’s polarized, but what, the literature you’re given out, helps build momentum with the elected officeholders, who are Democrats will have to listen too, and I will say this, too. If you sign a term pledge and then don’t sign on to my bill, there’s consequences, because they ought to be advertised as why did you sign a term limits pledge and then you’re reneging on it? How’s that gonna work on your reelection? That’s very…
Philip Blumel: Well, we definitely try to keep… Hold their feet to the fire when they pull that ’cause they get the benefit. As they know, they know full well what the polls say about term limits and people’s support for it, and they get the benefit from that while they’re running, and then if they get in, they don’t sign your bill, it really says something negative about them. And you make a good point, too, about the polarization. I think maybe that’s another reason why it’s so difficult to get Democrats on the bill, simply it’s because it’s… You’re a Republican. And the conversation is unhealthy right now with people in their camps.
Rep. Ralph Norman: No. So many conservatives feel the fabric of our nation is being torn apart by the Biden administration, and it is. And so, when you combine that, the Democrats… And there’s a lot of dissension in the party, they just… With Nancy Pelosi, they’re not gonna buck her. And they’re scared to death of what she may do to them. So, you’ve got that lever that she has and her mantra is, “Don’t do anything Republicans want at any level.” But we’re gonna keep doing it, and we’re not gonna quit, we will keep trying.
Philip Blumel: So, where do we go from here? Now, you’ve introduced the bill, you’re working to add co-sponsors. What kind of threshold would you have to reach, do you think, to get a hearing on this resolution? What would it take to get your first hearing on this term limits resolution?
Rep. Ralph Norman: Well, I just need to get the signatures. We need to get the two-thirds in the house which are 290 and to get to 67 in the Senate, and then we move it on. I mean, Ted Cruz is doing a good job. It’s all about getting signatures now, for me. And that’s what… ’cause we’re attempting to change the constitution, and that’s our goal, and I think by the end of this year, I should have another 20 to 30, which means it’s gonna be a… It was gonna be able…
Philip Blumel: Wow, that’s great.
Rep. Ralph Norman: And with the upcoming elections. With the mid-terms, we should see a big swing on signing on to the bill.
Philip Blumel: Well naturally, everyone listening to this podcast, No Uncertain Terms, [chuckle] wants to see your resolution succeed. What can people outside of Washington do to help you? I mean, does a letter to the Congress member really matter? I mean, is a group of citizens coming to the… Coming to Congressional office next years have any effect, or the sign waving, the district get attention, what could people do out here that will back you up in what you’re trying to do up there?
Rep. Ralph Norman: Great question. What your listeners need to do is to call their particular Congressman that they get to cast a vote for, especially the ones that sign the term limit pledge. Those that have not signed the term limit pledge, try to get them and the constituents to sign on. It does no good for… Like I’m from South Carolina. It does no good for any of the voters in this state to write Nancy Pelosi a letter. We can’t hold her accountable ’cause we can’t vote for her. So you’ve gotta make it… Localize it, where each state and each Congressional district, the… That we, the people take charge and contact their congressman, particularly now, with the mid-terms coming up. Every… Whether you’re Democrat or Republican, you’re looking at the election. You need support, particularly Democrats, because the tide is against them.
Philip Blumel: Right.
Rep. Ralph Norman: And people have suggested it’s gonna be a 23 to 40 seat changeover, why not get the Democrats who are running now to sign on? ‘Cause a lot of incumbents are gonna get beat. You got 28 that are retiring on their own.
Philip Blumel: Yeah.
Rep. Ralph Norman: So it’s a wonderful opportunity.
Philip Blumel: Yeah. Well, It is. No offence, but we really hope [chuckle] that Democrats take up this issue. They need one that resonates with people. The ones that they’re getting from Washington right now is not resonating with people, so I think that would be very effective for them, and I’d like to see more of them pick up the flag.
Rep. Ralph Norman: My message to them is, why is this not a positive for you? With this kind of approval rating among the voters, how does this hurt you? And if they can… If they take the Republican banner off of it as being a win for Republicans, and think it’s just what’s good for the country, then we win and we’ll get our constitutional amendment.
Philip Blumel: If it was a bipartisan bill, it’d be a win for everybody. Yeah.
Rep. Ralph Norman: Exactly right. That’s how it’s meant to be.
Philip Blumel: Yep. Well, thank you very much, Representative Dorman. We really appreciate your efforts on behalf of the voters, Democrats [chuckle] and Republicans, who wanna fix the Congress. So thank you for your work, and thank you for your time today.
Rep. Ralph Norman: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
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: Contact your state lawmakers before they vote on term limits for Congress, go to termlimits.com/takeaction.
Philip Blumel: USTL.