by Nick Tomboulides
No structure can stand without a foundation, and the term limits movement is no different. From inception, that foundation has never been professional politicians. Nor has it been special interest groups with big money and big influence. The engine that powers term limits activism has been and will always be grassroots citizen action.
Duncan Sheils, of Richmond, VA., wanted to do something for term limits, but he wasn’t sure where to start. A small businessman, he knew he couldn’t depend on the legislators and lobbyists who view term limits as the last stop on their gravy train. So Duncan started talking to his neighbors. He realized that they too were frustrated with Washington dysfunction and hungry for a remedy.
An idea was born. Duncan and the people he knows best resolved to hold a Term Limits Summit in their community. At the time, they didn’t have a venue, speakers or a list of those who might be interested in attending. But that wasn’t a deterrent. The group worked tirelessly, and one by one, the missing pieces began to fall into place.
Their efforts resulted in a very successful Term Limits Summit this past Wednesday in Richmond, at which U.S. Term Limits had a major presence. The keynote speaker was Dr. Dave Brat, the economics professor who became the first House candidate in American history to defeat a sitting Majority Leader for renomination, when he beat Rep. Eric Cantor in June. Brat has pledged to co-sponsor the USTL amendment if elected.
USTL President Phil Blumel also spoke, making the case that term limits aren’t just a necessary reform, but one we can really achieve if citizens continue to pressure their elected officials.
Attendees and speakers couldn’t stop buzzing about the youth movement obvious among the crowd. Students from nearby Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) were the largest group in attendance, and many expressed frustration over a Congress that just doesn’t listen to new voices. They believe the USTL amendment will open up elections and give their generation more influence.
As for Duncan Sheils, he’s ready to do it all again, and this time wants an even bigger venue.
“This was just the start,” he told me. “We’re tired of partisanship and ready to make a huge push for term limits.”
The success of Sheils’ group should inspire confidence in anyone looking to make an impact for term limits, but feeling held back by a lack of size or resources. Any small action that moves the ball forward is a positive one. As term limits supporter Benjamin Franklin put it, “Well done is better than well said.”
Nick Tomboulides is the Executive Director of U.S. Term Limits