In this week’s 20-min podcast:
– Sen. Chuck Grassley turns 90 yrs old, becoming the longest serving Republican in Senate history, as concerns regarding elderly leadership grows
– A special election in Rhode Island guarantees another US Term Limits pledge-signer
– Special interest groups abolish presidential term limits in Central Africa
– Bill O’Reilly pleads for elderly congressional members to “retire with dignity”
– The U.S. Term Limits staff meets in Las Vegas and comes back energized
– Holly Robichaud speaks with “Retire Congress North Dakota” founder Jared Hendrix about barring octogenarians from running for Congress in his state
Philip Blumel: Happy Birthday, Chuck Grassley.
Philip Blumel: Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the term limits movement. This is episode number 221, posted on September 11th, 2023.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: Chuck Grassley, the senior senator representing Iowa, turns 90 years old on Sunday this week, that is September 17th. Happy Birthday. He was born in 1933 and is the longest-serving Republican in US Senate history. He won his first election to the Senate in 1980, and has served in that body for almost 43 years. But his political career did not start there, not hardly. Senator Grassley first ran for office in 1959 and was elected to the Iowa State House, and served there until 1975. He served in the US House representing Iowa from 1975 to 1980, and that’s when he ran for the US senate. My calculator informs me that that is 64 years in politics. He has never done anything else. Periodically, Chuck has expressed support for the idea of term limits, God bless him. But his biggest contribution to the cause has been as a poster child for why term limits are so necessary. Given the power of incumbency, it’s not surprising that Chuck has continued to re-win his seat well into his 80s.
Philip Blumel: Remember that in 2022, every single US senator running for their own seat won. That’s a 100% victory for incumbents. And yes, Chuck was one of those winners at age 89. He’ll be 95 at the end of his term. And by the way, I heard today that Nancy Pelosi has just announced that she’s going to run for re-election for her US house seat next year at age 83. Now, is this happening because voters want to be represented by a 90-year-old, or because there is no one else in the whole state of Iowa, which is the home of about 3.2 million people, that they see is capable of doing this job? Well, you know it isn’t. The power of incumbency is such that it scares away serious challengers. When an incumbent like this announces their re-election campaign, money flows in before they send out their first solicitation. Their coffers fill with cash. 90% of all PAC money, over 90% of all PAC money goes to incumbents, and all kinds of special interests are investing in them and indebted to them. Looking at the statistical likelihood of being an incumbent, serious goal oriented people generally don’t try.
Philip Blumel: Besides, even if they won, look how long a newcomer would have to wait to get on, say, the Senate Finance Committee or the Senate Judiciary Committee. It’s a seniority system. It’s the seniors that have the power. So who has a life to throw away, waiting to get into a position to get something done? Only someone who doesn’t mind being a professional politician. Or who wants to be. Or whose goal in life is to be a professional politician. Someone like Senator Charles Grassley. Next, last Tuesday in Rhode Island, congressional district number one, a special election was held to fill the seat of representative David Cicilline, who resigned from Congress at the end of May. So with no incumbent in the race, nearly a dozen Democrats and two Republicans jumped in. Let’s let Holly Robichaud tell the story from her YouTube show, Breaking News on Term Limits.
Holly Robichaud: Hi, it’s Holly Robichaud with Breaking News on Term Limits. Wow, what an exciting night last night in the Rhode Island special election, we didn’t have one winner, we had two winners, that’s right. Both the winners of the Democratic and Republican primaries are US term limits pledge signers. So that means we’re gonna have no matter what another pledge signer in Congress. We’re so excited. I wanna say congratulations to Gabe Amo and Gerry Leonard for winning their primaries.
Philip Blumel: If the new Rhode Island Congress member was sworn in today, that would be pledge signer number 113 in the house. Next, I reported a few episodes back about a referendum in the Central African Republic to abolish presidential term limits. The referendum was pushed by the current President, Faustin-Archange Touadéra and his ruling party, the United Hearts. Oh, and also the Russian mercenary Wagner Group, who had troops on the ground in the Central African Republic to “provide security”. I’m not kidding. Not surprisingly, the referendum to abolish term limits, passed with 95% of the vote. Turnout was about 10%. Critics are calling the election a power grab and a farce. Now these are words that can be used to describe politicians attempts to roll back term limits in the US as well. Well, you might think that I’m going too far in suggesting this equivalence, but seriously, literally, there can be no doubt that the goal of all anti-term limits politicians is always in everywhere the same, to hold on to power. Take it away, Joe.
S?: This is a public service announcement.
Philip Blumel: Television and radio host, Bill O’Reilly spoke for America this week from his YouTube channel, News Nation, when he pleaded with this country’s aging political careerists to retire with dignity. Although, for many of them, it’s hard and too late to do that.
Bill O’Reilly: McConnell should resign tomorrow and his wife should make that happen. McConnell is not healthy enough to be the Senate minority leader. Dianne Feinstein should quit tomorrow as a senator from California because she is not healthy enough. And Joe Biden should resign, not tomorrow, but somewhere down the line after the Democrats set up someone who can actually compete for the office because Biden cannot. All right. And we should have term limits in this country. Absolutely should have them. This is ridiculous, that people sitting there like Ms. Feinstein, who literally doesn’t even know where she is. Literally doesn’t know where she is. And McConnell, I feel sorry for him. It looks like he’s gonna have a stroke. I mean, come on, let’s get these people the help they need and get other people in who can run the country. Is that illogical?
Speaker 4: It’s not illogical.
Philip Blumel: Let’s not stop there. We have another excellent public service announcement this week. On his nationally syndicated radio show, The Breakfast Club, DJ Charlamagne tha God and his crew, applauded Nikki Haley’s latest call for term limits.
DJ Charlamagne Tha God: Let’s talk about these older politicians.
Speaker 6: Yeah. Sunday, a Republican presidential candidate, Nikki Haley, advocated for term limits, which I think we all agree on that, and mental test of politicians over the age of 75. She says they need to let a younger generation take over. Let’s take a listen.
Nikki Haley: It’s sad. No one should feel good about saying that, any more than we should feel good about saying Dianne Feinstein, anymore than we should feel good about a lot of what’s happening. Or seeing Joe Biden’s decline. What I will say is right now, the Senate is the most privileged nursing home in the country. Mitch McConnell has done some great things, and he deserves credit. But you have to know when to leave. That is why I’m strongly in support of term limits in this country. I think that we do need mental competency tests for anyone over the age of 75. I wouldn’t care if they did them over the age of 50. But these are people making decisions on our national security. They’re making decisions on our economy, on the border. We need to know they’re at the top of their game. You can’t say that right now looking at Congress.
DJ Charlamagne Tha God: Nikki is absolutely right. She didn’t say one damn thing wrong.
Speaker 8: I’ve been saying this for the longest.
DJ Charlamagne Tha God: I’ll stop him when she stops telling the truth. We need term limits, and you all understand, you definitely need mental competency tests over the age of… Whatever.
Philip Blumel: Next, a personal experience. Last week, I attended two days of meetings in Las Vegas with the US term limits team. And this included pretty much the entire staff and a couple of board members and a couple of contract folks, there was about 25 of us there in total. And you’ve met some of these folks on the podcast. We’ve had Ken Quinn, Holly Robichaud, Nick Tomboulides, Scott Tillman, Stacey Selleck, and others. And some I never actually met in person because we do a lot of our work remotely. And… Oh, Paul Jacob was there, and also our chairman, Howard Rich. Anyway, I have to tell you, I came back energized. This was an impressive group. It’s also the largest staff USTL has had since the heydays of the ’90s, when the initiative and referendum strategy was at it’s height. Now why is that? Because like then we found a strategy that is working. And I recall that back in the 1990s, 23 states term limited their congressional delegations. Yes, their congressional delegations at the ballot box.
Philip Blumel: In 1992, 14 states voted for term limits on the same day. We’ve never seen anything like that in history before or since. Now, with 23 states with term limit delegations, we were on our way to changing the incentives of the Congress on this issue. Generally, of course, Congress members have an incentive to vote against term limits. But what if half the Congress was term limited and half was not? You could see that all of a sudden, half of Congress would be at a big disadvantage and would have a very powerful incentive to term limit the other half. That was the lever that we were trying to create in order to push a constitutional amendment at that time. And that strategy was clearly working until the Supreme Court in US Term Limits versus Thornton in 1995, in a 5:4 split decision that we can term limit congressional delegations by a constitutional limit only and not by initiative for referenda. Well, so we’re back to the problem of the Congress would never pass term limits on themselves. Well, today, we’re trying to switch their incentives again, and this time by getting the states to call for an amendment proposing convention limited to the subject of congressional term limits.
Philip Blumel: Now, at this time, we know we’re on solid constitutional ground as Article 5 is clear as day on the subject. Read it. So if two-thirds of the states apply for an amendment proposing convention on the same subject, it shall be called. And that body has the right to propose amendments and then send them to the states for ratification. Now, we’re six states in, and it’s clear that it can be done. State legislatures will pass these resolutions. So we have a good strategy and to implement it requires a good team, and we have that too. So what we need to do now is scale up this operation. Regular listeners know that I don’t harangue you on this podcast with request for money. I don’t know that I’ve ever done it, except in a perfunctory way at the end of each podcast. But after last week, I am inspired to do so. I know we can do this. We have shown it in half a dozen states. The team I saw this week is the team that can get this job done. But none of this is free, so please consider sending us a financial contribution at termlimits.com/donate. And let’s get this done.
Philip Blumel: With the recent cringe-worthy senior moments from Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Mitch McConnell, plus the upcoming 90th birthday of Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the nation’s attention is on the issue of term limits and also of age limits. You’ve heard us talk about Jared Hendrix, who led the successful initiative effort to term limit the North Dakota Legislature and Governor in 2022. Well, he’s at it again. With his group, Retire Congress North Dakota, Hendrix is pushing a new initiative to bar octogenarians from running for Congress from that state. Holly Robichaud spoke to him last week.
Holly Robichaud: Hey, today we’ve got joining us, Jared Hendrix, who is our North Dakota hero. Passed term limits last year, and now he’s taking on a new initiative of putting age limits on members of Congress. Jared, welcome to the show.
Jared Hendrix: Hey, Holly, thanks for having me on.
Holly Robichaud: Tell us about this new ballot initiative.
Jared Hendrix: Yeah, so it’s pretty simple. It’s saying that anyone who is elected in the state of North Dakota to one of our three Congress positions, ’cause we only have one member of Congress, and of course, two US Senators cannot attain the age of 80 during their time in office. So it’s age limits, congressional age limit only applies to our members of Congress, and Congress hasn’t acted on this, they haven’t acted on term limits. And if you look at what’s happening in the news in the last few weeks with Mitch McConnell’s episode with some of the situations with Senator Feinstein out of California, we don’t want those problems in North Dakota, so that’s why we’re doing it.
Holly Robichaud: All right. So why do you think that this will go over well right now in North Dakota?
Jared Hendrix: Well, I think it’s kind of one of the topics of the day. People are watching, even our president, President Biden, which obviously our measure doesn’t affect that, and people are still watching that. And there’s a lot of legitimate questions about age of people in office in general right now. And plus, it’s just common sense. And it’s actually not without precedent in North Dakota, you actually can’t be a state judge with your full retirement benefits if you don’t retire by 73. That’s already in our law. And there’s 31 other states that have certain restrictions on judges, mandatory retirements or they lose retirement benefits, and some of those limits are age 65 or 70. So we think it’s very reasonable to say at age 80, we think the support will be widespread. There’s actually some people that think it should be 65, so we think we’re being pretty pragmatic. And I think it’s gonna have wide support.
Holly Robichaud: All right. How many signatures do you need and how are the signatures going?
Jared Hendrix: It’s going good. It always starts a little slow when you’re trying to build a team, but it’s going good. And in North Dakota, we have this thing called the winter that we have to avoid if possible, so we’re scrambling. I think… I don’t know the exact number, I think maybe we have 6000 or 7000 at this point. We have to get 31, some thousand signatures, 31,000 and some change, which is a good number. And of course, you always wanna get more because inevitably there will be some errors. But we think we’ll get to it and we should be able to get on the ballot by next June, we’re hoping.
Holly Robichaud: Well, you’ve had some great success out in North Dakota previously, and I bet you’re gonna do it again this time. Where do people go to join your team?
Jared Hendrix: Yeah, so they can go check out our website, retirecongressnorthdakota.com, and there’s a lot of information on there with… There’s an FAQ, frequently asked questions, they can sign up on our mailing list. They can obviously share our content, which is good no matter where they live, we want people to share and them to see what we’re doing, ’cause this is kind of a national story, even though it only affects North Dakota. And ultimately, we want other states to emulate what we’re doing. Retirecongressnorthdakota.com.
Holly Robichaud: All right. Well, Jared, you’ve been our hero out there in North Dakota with everything you’ve done with passing term limits, and now this initiative. We wish you all the best of luck, and thank you for joining us today.
Philip Blumel: And we’ll give the last word in this episode to a lifetime opponent of term limits, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Speaker 10: Good afternoon. Welcome back. Respectfully, can you tell us what is afflicting you and describe, characterize what is the level of transparency that the people of Kentucky deserve to hear about your condition?
Mitch McConnell: Well, I think Dr. Monahan covered…
Speaker 10: We’d like to hear from you.
Mitch McConnell: I know. You are hearing from me. I think Dr. Monahan covered the subject fully. You’ve had a chance to read it. I don’t have anything to add to it. And I think it should answer any reasonable question.
Speaker 10: He ruled things out. He didn’t tell us what it might have been. Do you know what it is?
Speaker 12: You’ve had all these evaluations. What a doctor said is the precise medical reason for those two, three subs?
Mitch McConnell: What Dr. Monahan’s report addressed was concerns people might have if some things that happened to me, did happen… But they didn’t. And really, I have nothing to add to that. I think he pretty well covered the subject.
Speaker 13: What do you say to those who are calling on you to step down? Do you have any plans to retire any time soon?
Mitch McConnell: I have no announcements to make on that subject.
Speaker 13: But what do you say to those who…
Mitch McConnell: I’m gonna finish my term as a leader and I’m gonna finish my Senate term. Thank you.
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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 break through 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 about 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 are 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.
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