Philip Blumel: Another term limits scofflaw bites the dust. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the term limits movement for the week of November 18, 2019.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: Evo Morales, former president of Bolivia, tried to make an end run around the voters and the Bolivian constitution by running for an illegal fourth term. It didn’t work. Will it worked for Mike Shirkey and the lobbyists in Michigan? Let’s ask Nick Tomboulides, Executive Director of USTL. Hey Nick.
Philip Blumel: Well, Nick, the big term limits news this week was from Bolivia, President Evo Morales, he resigned last Sunday in the face to violent protests in the streets after the socialist president tried to run for an illegal fourth term in office, even though the Bolivian constitution includes a two term limit. It started with the ignoring of a referendum from the people in which they affirmed the two year limit and then it went downhill from there. It looked like he was going to lose the election, probably on the basis of that, ignoring the referendum and when the returns started coming in, Morales halted the vote. 24 hours later, they decided that he won.
Nick Tomboulides: Right.
Philip Blumel: And violence started in the streets.
Nick Tomboulides: Well, I only listen to and believe what the mainstream media tell me. So, I think Evo Morales was an indigenous hero and he lifted millions of people out of poverty. The guy was a dictator. He was a nasty, nasty dude. He would detain people without trial. Secret police torturing people, killing political enemies. They’ve got corrupt courts over there. They’ve essentially got mob rule. I’ve got no sympathy for the guy and the media really need to stop glamorizing him. With term limits, he’s like a bad golfer, right? He keeps trying to take mulligans on this. He puts it into the constitution himself, two, five year terms. Then he calls an election in 2009 and says, ah, you guys, that first term didn’t really count, the limits start now, trust me. And so of course the corrupt court agrees with him. He wins in 2009, wins again in 2014. Then he announced he’s going for the fourth term. So he puts this thing on the ballot to abolish his own term limits and the voters shoot it down.
Philip Blumel: Yeah, absolutely. The voters wanted the term limits. They want it the first time. They want the second time. Just because it applies to him didn’t change their minds. So they rejected the attempt to overturn the term limits, so then he couldn’t go in a straight forward fashion. Just like politicians all over the globe, he had to find a work around. And so, he went back to the constitutional court, which is all packed with his loyalists, naturally. And they’re the same ones that allowed him to claim that his first term didn’t count. He went back to them and he claimed, get this, that it was his human right to be president of Bolivia, the human right. And based on that argument, the constitutional court of Bol said, oh, well yeah, his human rights are being violated.
Nick Tomboulides: The irony is, people under Morales in Bolivia have no human rights. They have no right to a fair trial. They have no freedom of speech, they have no food. I mean, people are starving in the streets and the courts are worried about this dictator having the right to run for reelection. It’s absurd. I mean, what happens when you’re a dictator who’s desperate, unpopular and out of options, you rig the election. That’s exactly what he did. There was an outside auditor involved in this. They caught him stuffing the ballot and then his fate was sealed. So he’s now seeking asylum in Mexico and we’re awaiting a new election in Bolivia.
Philip Blumel: You know, as you mentioned, he was seen as sort of a hero, at least on the left, when he was originally elected. And of course he was elected, it’s a quasi-democratic country. But as you spend more time in power, especially with this large state apparatus, which he used against the people, you gain more and more power and of course more and more arrogance and become more and more corrupt, and then you change the rules so that you can stay forever. We saw the same thing happen in Venezuela and other countries in Latin America.
Nick Tomboulides: And our audience can’t see this, but when Phil says Morales was elected, he’s making air quotes when he says elected.
Philip Blumel: Right. Yeah, because there was actually fraud in the election regarding the term limits as well. It just wasn’t sufficient. There was an awful lot of shenanigans going on in that vote, but the people still won it.
Nick Tomboulides: What does it say about the overwhelming popularity and staying power of term limits? That term limits can even win when the subject of those term limits attempts to rig the election. That’s how powerful this thing is. I have an article that I pinned a while ago and what we can put it in the show notes was by a Zachary Kaufman. He’s a fellow at the Kennedy School at Harvard, formerly a Yale fellow. Great article, wrote it a couple of years ago called, Term Limits at Home and Abroad. And what he says is, anytime a foreign president tries to stay in office beyond term limits, the ruling class in DC are the first people to condemn this person as like undemocratic and corrupt, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Uganda, or wherever, wherever. But our politicians, American politicians run in even more lopsided and rigged elections than these dictators. Our Congressman get re-elected 98% of the time and they have no term limits. It’s just hilarious.
Nick Tomboulides: So, I would just note that in Bolivia there’s a broad consensus that term limits are a check on power, it’s essential, it’s a safeguard. You see the backlash against this guy, the reactions across the board to him trying to circumvent term limits. You call it an eroding democracy, but then we tolerate endless tenure for our leaders here who are just as entrenched, whose elections are just as on undemocratic and who have the same proclivity for corruption.
Philip Blumel: That’s right. And many of these politicians claim democracy is on their side when they impose term limits. Oh, but we long to have the people have their vote. What they really want is just to stay in office forever.
Philip Blumel: On the November 12th podcast of Blunt Force Truth with Chuck Woolery, the great game show host and his sidekick Mark Young chatted with our own Scott Tillman about the state of the term limits movement.
Chuck Woolery: So the fundamental changes that need to be made is that there are so many years for you as a Congressman, there is so many years for you as a Senator and then you go home and you live with the rules that you passed. You live with the laws that you passed and like it or not, that’s how you’ll rest of your life is going to be. Now, of course, they don’t live like that because they don’t have to.
Scott Tillman: No. And most of them never go back when they’re done. This is one of the things we talk about. What is the best term limit for people? We support two Senate term and three house term, term limit and that’s because the citizens at large want that. They think that once you’re gone from home more than six years, very unlikely to come back to the profession you did before. If you stepped away from teaching or being a doctor, or your personal business for more than six years, it’s very hard to get back. It’s hard enough to get back after six years
Philip Blumel: To hear the full interview with Scott and others with host, Chuck Woolery and Mark Young, go to bluntforcetruth.com.
Philip Blumel: Now, Michael Bloomberg, of course, is back in the race. He’s running for president of the United States. He made some noise about it before, well now he’s officially back. He’s filed in a couple of states, so he’s in and he’s got a long history with term limits that’s not too much different than Evo Morales.
Nick Tomboulides: Well the differences is, when Bloomberg overturned term limits, our federal government didn’t criticize him, right?
Philip Blumel: Well, that’s right. Right.
Nick Tomboulides: Either start practicing what you preach or cut the hypocrisy, I would say.
Philip Blumel: Yeah. Well, now that he’s running for president again, I think we need to refresh our memories of exactly what Bloomberg did in New York, because it’s really a story of political arrogance, if you ask me. The voters of New York approved eight year term limits in 1993 and they reaffirmed them in 1996. So two votes on the subject, both times voters said term limits, yes. Now, Mayor Bloomberg, decided in 2009 that he wanted to run for a third term. So he did some internal polling to see if the voters might approve a change to go from eight to 12 years to accommodate his ambitions. He didn’t like the result, so he went to the New York City Council and asked them to simply ignore the two previous referendum and weaken the term limits with a simple council vote. And naturally, the sweetener for the council was, well, we’ll weaken your tournaments too. So they went along with that and so did the courts. So he won. Oh, it’s so frustrating.
Philip Blumel: And here’s somebody that actually had called city council members in the past who had tried to weaken the term limits disgraceful. But of course when he’s in office it’s different.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, it’s term limits for thee but not for me. We’ve seen this before. We even actually saw it in New York City. Aftermath of nine 11, there was a lot of speculation that Rudy Giuliani would stay beyond term limits because he was so essential to national security. Just like we’re told now that Bloomberg was so essential to the financial security of this nation, despite the fact that the recession was pretty much over by the time he was seeking that third term. I was actually living in New York City at the time, I remember the resentment towards Bloomberg and I remember the passion people had to restore the term limits. And what’s often lost in the shuffle is, voters will hold it against politicians who undermine term limits. They just did it to Morales, he couldn’t get the majority that needed to cling to power. Bloomberg was no exception. On the surface you see, he got a third term.
Philip Blumel: Barely.
Nick Tomboulides: It looked like he cruise to it, but in reality, yeah, he barely scraped by, he had to spend 100 million bucks to get that third term as mayor. He spent, I think, almost $200 a vote. Outspend his opponent wildly, it was like 12 to one. Nobody even knew his opponents, it was just some random guy. And Bloomberg only got reelected by, I think, fewer than five points. So voters, they held it against him, but it just wasn’t enough to overcome his well oiled political machine. I was living in the city, they had posters with Mr. Burns from the Simpsons, the evil billionaire who owns the nuclear power plant and the posters said, “No third term, vote for Burns.” And believe it or not, in that election, Bloomberg was so unpopular, a lot of people wrote in for Mr. Burns from the Simpsons. He was the leading write-in candidate during that mayoral election.
Philip Blumel: That’s right. You know, the arrogance of this was a mind blowing to me. His reason for needing that third term was because the nation was undergoing a financial convulsion, a recession, he’s a financial guy, so only he, apparently, could handle the situation. But of course, he’s the mayor of the financial capital of the entire earth, pretty much. There are a lot of bright financial guys in New York City and to think that he’s the only person that could handle running municipal government at such a time is insane. But that was his argument. And like you said, the recession was sort of passing by late 2009 when the election was going to be held and this was brought up to him at a press conference in May of that year where his arrogance was on full display. Let’s let’s hear it.
Michael Bloomberg: But the bottom line is that there still is some business going on and in fact, I’m reasonably optimistic that we will turn the corner. It’s not going to be-
Speaker 8: If the economy is turning around, as you said, does that mean that the rationale for extending term limits, which was the fiscal challenge-
Michael Bloomberg I don’t know, I’d like to just get serious questions here on all this.
Speaker 8: But, the question is-
Michael Bloomberg The rational for extending term limits is, the city council voted it and the public’s going to have a chance on November 3rd to say what they want and I don’t think we have to keep coming back to that. When you have a serious question about the economy, I’d be happy to answer it. Anything else? Thank you very much.
Speaker 9: Other topics, anything else?
Michael Bloomberg Nothing else.
Philip Blumel: Isn’t that incredible? But the punchline of this whole Bloomberg story is, that after he got his third term, after he twisted the arms of the council, after he went through the courts to ignore these previous two referendum, a third referendum was held. In 2010 the voters had the choice again, whether or not they wanted two or three term term limits and guess what, they overwhelmingly with 83% of the vote said, we want to go back to two term term limits that we had already approved twice. Incredible.
Philip Blumel: You know, just like Evo Morales in Bolivia, just like Michael Bloomberg in New York City, we see the same arrogance on display again, right now in Michigan. We talked about it in the last two podcasts where we see a situation where the voters spoke very clearly at the ballot box saying they wanted eight year term limits and we have the leaders of both the House and the Senate, the largest lobby in the state coming out trying to go around the voters with some kind of Mickey Mouse ethics package with term limits hidden inside, trying to get around voters so that they can maintain their place in office. It’s the same thing again going on in Michigan. If you live in Michigan and haven’t done so yet, go to termlimits.com under our current actions tab, go to the Michigan action and send a message to your legislators in Michigan telling them to keep their hands off the people’s term limits.
Scott Tillman: Hi, this is Scott Tillman, the National Field Director with US Term Limits. US Term Limits is celebrating a large number of pledgers being elected to the Louisiana state legislature. We ask state legislators and candidates for state legislature to sign a pledge to help us term limit Congress. The pledge reads, “I pledge that as a member of the state legislature, I will co-sponsor vote for and defend the resolution applying for an Article Five Convention for the sole purpose of enacting term limits on Congress.”
Scott Tillman: Most of us vote for our state House and state Senate members in the even year elections, but there are a few States with odd year elections. Louisiana has odd year elections. They voted Saturday, October 12th in a jungle primary. A jungle primary is an election where the candidates all appeared together, irrespective of party. If one candidate gets over 50% of the vote, they win, and if nobody gets over 50% of the vote, then the top two candidates proceed to a runoff election. The runoff election was held Saturday, November 16th. For the first time in Louisiana state legislative elections, US term limits was aggressively telling voters which candidates pledged to support term limits for Congress and which candidates opposed term limits for Congress. It was a big win and we will now have 34 members in Louisiana legislature who will have pledged their support for term limits on Congress, 15% of the Louisiana state Senate and 26% of the Louisiana state house. Tune into our next podcast to hear Phil and Nick discuss the importance of these wins to the turbulence movement.
Scott Tillman: Next year is going to be an even bigger year for state legislative elections. If you have access to a candidate, let them know how well the term limits candidates did in Louisiana and tell them to sign our pledge. Pledges are at termlimits.com.
Philip Blumel: This episode of On the Mark, snuck by us when it ran nine months ago during the last governmental shutdown. Exasperated anchor, Mark Curtis, of KPNX channel 12 in Phoenix let loose on the dysfunctional U S Congress during an episode of his popular commentary segment.
Mark Curtis: Well, on Fridays, my bosses here give me the chance to get something off my chest. 28 days, that’s how long it’s been since the government was open for business. And even then, was it really? I’m not just talking about this petty tug of war between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and our President. I’m referring to the people caught in the middle, almost a million federal workers, the collateral damage in all of this with mortgages and tuition, and just lives to live. And I don’t think that any of these politicians that we’ve sent to Washington give a damn about the people who are hurting because of their childish behavior, which is why more than ever now it is time for term limits. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. That’s from the Declaration of Independence and by the way, that’s us.
Mark Curtis: They lead us because we decided that they were smart enough and good enough to lead us. The problem is, the longer they stay in power, the more they think they’re untouchable, the less they think about the consequences of their actions and instead think about party ideology, writing their legacy and satisfying their egos by making sure that they win and the other side loses. And ask yourself this. When’s the last time that Congress functioned effectively, right? You can’t remember because these dinosaurs who are so addicted to the smell of money from lobbyists and are so set in their ways, the very thought of putting their egos in check to do something good for the country instead of the party is repugnant.
Mark Curtis: A recent poll showed that more than 80% of Americans want term limits. You know who opposes that idea, incumbent politicians and special interest groups. I say, no more making a career out of sitting on your butt and collecting a paycheck and doing nothing. You go there, you serve your time and please do it with integrity and honor because you won’t be there for very long and then get out and get a real job like the rest of us. The simple inability of ending this shutdown screams that now more than ever, it’s time.
Philip Blumel: Thank you for joining us for another episode of No Uncertain Terms. For our action item this week, we need to take some precautionary action against a potential flip flopper in West Virginia. State delegate, Michael Angelucci, of West Virginia signed the US term limits pledge to co-sponsor and vote for the resolution applying for an Article Five Convention for the sole purpose of enacting term limits on Congress. And he did so when HCR 61 passed the West Virginia House in 2019. Unfortunately, the bill did not get a vote in the Senate due to a last minute filibuster by Senator Mike Romano. Well, arms are already being twisted in preparation for a new 2020 vote on the Term Limits Convention Bill. Now, Delegate Angelucci, says that he plans to give in and break his promise. Please go to termlimits.com/flipflop and send a message to Delegate Angelucci if you live in West Virginia. Tell him to stand with the voters and not the lobbyists and career politicians who are pressuring him. You can also find this action item under the current actions tab at termlimits.com. Thank you. We’ll be back next week.
Speaker 12: USTL.
Philip Blumel: This podcast is made possible by the support of you, the American people and your voluntary financial contributions, which can be made through our website at termlimits.com. Thank you.