Transcripts – A Founding Omission

(Transcript from theTommyCshow, recorded on March 9, 2021).

It is Tuesday, March 9 2021, and you’re tuning in to the Tommy C show, the podcast that’s become a popular resource for patriotic truth and action. The podcast that starts every day in the mindset of an 18th-century founding father. I wake up with history on the mind.

It’s true, it’s pretty dorky, isn’t it? But, you know, as we live and breathe all of the events around us, it just becomes natural, I think. I’ve said this before, but I think all of the turbulence, the political turbulence in the last few years, if it’s done nothing else it’s given Americans an opportunity to get re-engaged in civics, not just the process, but the history and what it all means and where it comes from, our constitution and all the founding documents, it’s fascinating. For a history, dork like me, I live and breathe it. I can relate to it. I live in it. And as things happen daily in our news cycles, and I, you know, evaluate them, I evaluate them through this lens of one of the founding fathers. Sometimes it gives me a reason to pause and reflect. Other times, it gives me great frustration. And sometimes it gives me hope, because I realize the strength in the government that they put together; the vision that they put together, and the tools and the remedies available to us.

Good evening, I hope your week is going well. It’s Tuesday, of course. So we’re, well, three more work days until Friday, if you’re a Monday to Friday kind of work week person as In everyday life I am. But of course with the show, it’s around the clock. Every day of the week really doing something and I’m happy to do that. I really have a passion for this, I love it. In addition to my job and the show, and the things I do here, you know, I stay engaged with local politics and movements. I’m very engaged with the local political action committee that’s working to take back our schools right now. And I’m really excited about where that’s going; and where it ultimately could lead to. I think we’re going to have great success in in taking three seats, all three seats that are up, putting new people in them. Certainly at least, you know, two of the three, if not all three, but we’re gonna we’re going to make some ground there. So I’m pretty stoked to be involved with that.

So, there’s lot of talk recently about the convention of the states, which is great. I’ve talked about it, and recently, there was a really substantial article put together by the Washington Pundit. I encourage you to check that out. I think there’s a lot of depth in there. I’m really honored and flattered to be mentioned in that article, to have some audio clips of an earlier podcast of mine in there, where I talked about term limits and the convention of the states. It doesn’t just touch on the idea of convention, the article talks about the things that can be done with that. And, you know, there, term limits being one, our federal budget being one, protecting the number of supreme court justices and things like this.

There are some who are still very critical of this, and I get it, everything has a risk. But to the naysayers out there, what are your ideas? You know, I see so many people that are very critical of anything that’s brought up, but they lack any ideas of their own. And hey, those of us that want change, who truly want change and want to do something about it and want to make that change happen, are out here trying so hard to fight for that and to be involved in change, and to bring all of you information on change and ways we can do it. We’re open to suggestions, we’re open ideas, but if all you’re going to do is sit around and criticize ideas and not have anything that you know, that you can bring to the table, it’s empty. I almost don’t want to hear you complain anymore.

It’s so encouraging to hear so many people out there finally talking about this, that didn’t maybe have a fuller knowledge or fuller understanding of it before. But there are some that say you can’t do it, it’s too risky. And yeah, of course, it’s risky. But what are the risks of not doing something? What else do we do? Because honestly, we are running out of constitutional remedies. This convention of the states is kind of, not just the failsafe, it’s it’s the Hail Mary. It’s the life jacket. It’s everything all in one. This is our attempt to save ourselves from a government going rogue, which it has, and there aren’t many other options out there. So it’s something we need to be taking very serious. I’m open to all kinds of ideas, if people have alternative things they think will work with our current government in place the way it is.

The idea of a convention of the states is not to dissolve our government and build a new one. You don’t want to eliminate the Constitution. Now, you know, granted, a convention of the states can pretty much rewrite the entire constitution, if they were to get an actual convention, the state’s going and had enough support for it. And that’s not the goal. Nobody wants that. Our Constitution is a great document, we want that document to be respected and revered and held to. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been, mostly by a dysfunctional legislative branch of our government that’s abused it. So most of the reforms that we want to see our states put amendments towards are term limits to limit the ability of damage being done by our representatives in Congress, and certainly to protect the sanctity of the Supreme Court and not allow that court to be expanded or damaged just for political purposes.

There are other things that the legislative branch has pushed off and otherwise forced the other branches of the government to act on, because they’re too lazy or too ignorant to act on them themselves. The idea is to bring amendments to the Constitution to correct and put accountability on the legislative branch, not to rewrite the entire document. Hell, no, I would never support that. We have a perfect document. It’s just missing one part. And honestly, what it’s missing is the argument for term limits; that’s the big one for me. The other things are very important as well, but the term limits idea is the biggest one for me. And this isn’t new, even our founding fathers had this idea. I don’t think many people understand that, but they tossed the idea of term limits around. I often talk about the Constitutional Convention, and the arguments between the Federalists and the anti Federalists, and that’s how our amendments, our bill of rights came to be.

One of the other big arguments in there was term limits, and that was one that never came to fruition. So, what did our founders think of that? Well, the idea of term limits, it was connected to the notion of rotation in office, they called it back then, which was popular during the early days of the American Republic. They called it rotation at office. Founding-era citizens viewed term limits as a means to prevent corruption and distant entrenched interests staying permanently in power, meaning that these, you know, these national representatives, these federal representatives of the states would be off in the Capitol somewhere far away from their districts. They would be too entrenched in interests and powers nationally and not truly be representing their people. That was something they recognized way back then. They worried that a lack of change in higher office could be destructive to a republican government. And under the Articles of Confederation, our first real attempt at government, term limits kept representatives to three terms in any six year period.

However, after considerable debate, the idea was abandoned during the construction of the Constitution, because many founders were skeptical of the usefulness of force rotations. Though there were certainly strong, I guess, strong arguments in its favor in the debates in the Constitutional Convention, and one of those was Melancton Smith, who spoke to the New York ratifying convention in June of 1788. Smith was a staunch anti federalist. He wrote some of the most substantial essays included the anti Federalist Papers, and he suggested that while limiting terms of local elections was probably unnecessary, limits would provide a useful check on power of federal legislators who are elected for long periods and far more removed from the observation of the people who elected them.

Nothing’s different, 240 years later, you know, they worried about the same things. They worried that without a mechanism to push national legislators out of office from time to time, lawmakers would become you inattentive to the public good and callous and selfish, in the form of corruption. Boy is that true or what? Smith stated that even good men in office over time would perceptively lose sight of the people and gradually fall into measures that are prejudicial to them.

I’m going to read something from Smith’s speech to the New York ratifying convention on June 21, 1788. I’m not going to read it all, it’s pretty lengthy, but I’ll read a few parts of it, and wow, all this stuff is pretty surreal. Now, he says the influence of of the great will generally enable them to succeed in elections. The great easily form associations. The great he’s talking about are the elites, the higher class of society. He says the great easily form associations, the poor and middle class form them with difficulty. If the elections be by plurality, as probably will be the case, it is almost certain non but the great will be chosen. It will be easy to unite their interests, but the common people will divide and their divisions will be promoted by others, there will be scarcely a chance of their uniting in any situation but by some popular demagogue who will probably be the devoid of principle. Think about that last statement right there, the only chance of people uniting might only be under some great man that was a popular demagogue, who was probably devoid of principle. Think about Trump. I mean, the foresight back then, they understood that if people got entrenched in politics, and you had these career politicians, that they would lose sight of the people generally.

This is profoundly surreal to to read this paper from 1788, and realize how it’s come to life, and we’re living it. Smith continues with his remarks, that the government will fall into the hands of the few and the great, and this will be the government of oppression. The great consider themselves above the common people, entitled to more respect, do not associate with them, they fancy themselves to have a right of preeminence and everything. In short, they possess the same feelings that are under the same influence of the same motives as a hereditary nobility. Very true, profoundly true. This is precisely how these career politicians act. This letter goes on to say one more thing here that I want to read. In every human society, there is an essay or an effort as he referred to it, continually tending to confer on one part of the height of power and happiness, and to reduce the other to the extreme of weakness and misery. He said the intent of good laws is to oppose this effort, and to diffuse their influence universally. Smith continued, equally, we ought to guard against the government being placed in the hands of this class. They cannot have that sympathy with their constituents, which is necessary to connect them closely to their interests, being in the habit of profuse living, they will be profuse in the public expenses. They find no difficulty in paying their taxes and therefore do not feel public burdens. Besides, if they govern, they will enjoy the emoluments of the government.

This entire essay is about four pages. It’s just eerie to read. And this was the anti Federalists. Smith wasn’t the only one. Thomas Jefferson wrote about it, he was very weary of abandoning rotation in office. He wrote to Edward Rutledge in 1788, in one of his journals in a letter, he says, I apprehend that the total abandonment of the principle of rotation of offices of President and Senator will end in abuse. He was talking about the executive branch and the legislative branch here. But my confidence is that there will be for all be for a long time be virtue and good sense and often our countrymen to correct abuses.

That was at a time when our society was had more respect for laws and more respect for the idea of what the government was trying to do when we were new. It was a freedom, you know, but some of the Constitution’s strongest advocates unfortunately rejected the notion that sweeping out legislators by law would reduce corruption. James Madison wrote that term limits might actually lead to government dysfunction. He wrote that frequent elections were a better check on power than by forcing legislators out of office by law. And those who stood against term limits mostly all argued that regular elections by the people could be a better check on corruption than constitutional limits. That such restrictions, the constitutional limits could create their own problems.

Listen, it’s a reasonable argument, when you consider  the time period. Madison wrote in federalist 53 that the higher proportion of new representatives that would be swept into office due to term limits, could lead to poor decisions and corruption from away of inexperienced legislators. And he wasn’t wrong, considering looking at this through the lens of 1790. Madison surmised that the greater the numbers, the the less the information or the bulk of the members, the more apt they would be to fall under the snares that traps that might be laid for them. So ultimately, the forces against term limits won out and the Constitution was ratified without term limits being added.

But it was, it was a heavy argument at the time, it was something that was heavily debated. And again, the same forces that argued for the people’s rights of free speech and the right to bear arms, and your right to due process was the same side, the anti Federalists argued for term limits. But this was one of the things in gaining some of those other items, like freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, that they had a give on the term limits piece. When you think about it, at the time, it made sense, you had a much smaller country, you have fewer federal legislators, you had more threats around you. The country was younger, so it made sense back in that time.

If the founders could have envisioned that the United States would be as large as it is today in area and population, and the government as large as it is, you can be damn sure that term limits would have been put into the document. From the perspective that they had and what they knew at the time, what they reasoned with, it didn’t make sense to them. And their argument is valid, it makes sense. It’s reasonable. But it’s also pretty profound that there was a counter argument for term limits at the time that had foresight beyond that, I think.

Another thing to consider is that, you know, back at that point time, there were also practical limits on time on Office, like shorter lifespans, people didn’t live as long. They didn’t serve as long as government. It’s much different, things have changed now. There were things they couldn’t have really foreseen. Another piece of that, about term limits at the time, was that much of their argument was that there was so much time needed to travel for federal representatives to go back and forth from their home districts to the Capitol. It took so much time to do that, that forcing them out of office every couple of years, there would be almost nothing that would be gained in there. It’s true. It’s very true. The dynamics at the time that made it appropriate.

I thought that was something interesting, I think, to share with you all tonight. As the discussion about term limits and a convention of the states picks up steam, it’s important to know that throughout our history, even at the time of our founding, the argument for term limits was very much a part of it. It is something that was always seen as problematic. Now it’s time that we address it based upon our current circumstances.

I want to say something about that, too. Because, you know, some on the left will take what I just said and say, well, at the time, the right to bear arms, there weren’t all of these police forces and everything else to protect people. But it’s different. You’re talking about comparing apples to rectums. And that, that argument comparing representatives in government, who were few to, you know, people having a right to defend themselves from a government, it’s not relative. The Second Amendment is not relative to time, it’s relative to an idea that people should not be run over by tyranny. The representatives of the people who create that tyranny, on the other hand, should be controlled. So, they’re not relative arguments before anybody on the left decides the argument of time applies to everything. Think about the First Amendment and freedom of the press. We’re not asking them to put things down on quill and ink and on parchment paper and deliver it by carrier pigeon, either.

But hey, the last thing I want to touch on real quick, I launched my website for the Truth Verified merchandise last week. It’s been really cool to see some of the merchandise come in and people send pictures of it. I am excited to see that. I’m stoked. I’m really grateful to those of you that have purchased stuff out there and are showing it off. Again, it’s the idea behind it. It’s the principle behind it. It’s the pride in being somebody who likes to share good, verified information.

To that point, I mentioned this week on Parler that I’d like to have a little fun with this. This month, towards the end of the month, I will record my 100th podcast already, and I am really excited for that. This one is actually number 91. In the spirit of that, what I’d like to do is be a little interactive, so I have a contest of sorts. What I’d like you to do, for those that are interested, is to mail to Tom at the real Tommy c.com. Tom at the real Tommy c.com. A short essay. It has to be between 100 and 125 words. No less, no more. Who you think, in your eyes, who you feel is one of the most influential figures in American history. I ask that you not to use Trump, we know that Trump’s been very influential recently. Think historical, get creative. I’d like to read those essays. And I will read, you know, five of them on my 100th episode, and if I pick yours to read, I’ll ship you a really cool truth verified stainless travel mug. They’re ordered, I should have them in a week or so. So I’ll be able to show them off on a show next week, but I’ve shared a picture on my parlor page, you can check that out. Again, send me a short essay to Tom at the real Tommy C.com if you’re interested in that contest. A historical figure, American figure, you feel was influential to our country, between 100 and 125 words. If I read yours on the air, then we’ll reward you with one of those cool travel mugs. I’m really super excited to see all that stuff.

That’s all I have for today. If you enjoy the show, be very grateful if you take a minute to share it with your friends and family. Hit that rumble button if you’re watching me there or hit like and subscribe on YouTube, if you’re watching on that medium. If you’re listening to the podcast on Apple and you can leave a review, I would really, really appreciate that as well. Feel free to follow and engage with me on Parler, my handle is at the Tommy C show. Or check out my website, the real Tommy c.com for other ways to contact me; to view my original articles, or to contribute to the show through PayPal Venmo or cash app if you appreciate the commentary. If you find these historical perspectives helpful. If you feel that they give you more knowledge as you get out there and share information with others and try to get people switched over to the right side. That would be great. There are so many resources on my website again, the real Tommy C.com. Friends, it’s time for all of us to passionately take action and we the people have a proud history of doing just that.

(Transcripts from theTommyCshow are produced by a third-party vendor and may be edited by theTommyCshow to correct spelling or grammar. All podcast content is intellectual property of theTommyCshow).

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