Tennessean Tim "Izzy" Israel treks across the country for congressional term limits

Congressional term limits advocate Tim “Izzy” Israel (left) clutches his newly-lighted walking stick alongside U.S. Term Limits Deputy Field Director Jeff Tillman (right) in front of Tillman’s}Dodge Roadtrek Popular 190 camper van at the Nashville I-24 Campground in Smyrna. Israel, who has been compared to Forrest Gump on several occasions, was set to walk with a few Tennessee State Representatives for a few miles during his short stay in the Midstate.

Hartsville native Tim “Izzy” Israel stopped in Rutherford County last week on his cross-country walk to raise awareness for congressional term limits.

Israel started his journey at the Southernmost Point Buoy in Key West, Fla. last December after he and his childhood friend David Plummer had discussed different ways they could get the word out about their cause.

Israel had been working in the music industry as a technician until the beginning of the pandemic last year. He said his time away from the music scene sparked the idea to give attention to a cause that’s important in his eyes.

He figured the journey would last nearly 16 months, but now there is no definite time frame for when he’ll reach his final stop in Cape Flattery, Wash., the most northwestern point in the continental U.S.

Israel said Plummer’s bad back prevented him from participating in the long-term walk, so he decided to rough it state-to-state solo.

Many times, Israel has heard the comparison between himself and fictional character Forrest Gump, who sprinted across the United States in the book and movie of the same name.

While he is “not running,” Israel said he understands the connection, but emphasized that what he’s doing is real life, not fantasy.

So far, he’s logged about 1,000 miles across Florida, through the southwest corner of Georgia and across Alabama to the Mississippi state line over the last few months.

Along the southeastern route, Israel was noticed by U.S. Term Limits, a grassroots organization that raises awareness and collects donations for the term limit movement. Jeff Tillman, a deputy field director for USTL from Michigan, stepped in about a month ago to offer support to Israel.

When Israel reached the Mississippi state line, Tillman, who heard about his walk through a Tallahassee news story, shuttled him to Nashville in his wife’s Roadtrek 190 Popular camper van.

Israel expressed his gratitude for the food and sleeping arrangements that have been made available to him.

Tillman, a former trucker familiar with long stints on the road, follows Israel’s walking route from the van to ensure safety as Israel walks near construction sites and the few dangerously narrow areas with little shoulder space. Tillman said Israel is dedicated to his route and getting the steps in.

“I don’t have to wonder where I’m going to sleep every night and navigate that, so it’s been a blessing,” said Israel, who had been camping out in the woods to avoid trespassing. “It’s really nice to have that option to just focus on the walk and getting the message out without, you know, when the sun starts going down, looking at a map topographically and going, ‘Hmm? Can I get in there? You know, how’s that look?’ ”

Tillman and Israel took a four-day break to return to their respective homes in Hartsville and Michigan via plane and car.

The Tennessee route picked up on May 7 after the duo had visited the state capitol and Jackson for a television appearance. Tillman shuttled Israel back down to the Alabama-Tennessee line where he began his walk across the state starting near Fayetteville.

Tillman will drop Israel back off at his previous location near the Mississippi border to continue his original stair-step route across the nation. Tillman plans to continue following along for the duration of the expedition.

Awareness for term limits

Both remain committed to bringing awareness to the term-limit movement.

“This isn’t a red-blue thing. It polls over 80 percent on both sides of the aisle,” said Tillman. “People are fed up with what our federal politicians are doing. They’ve built themselves a kingdom, and it’s laws that they don’t even have to apply to themselves.”

Israel and Tillman both pointed out the Tennessee House of Representatives recent 53-34 vote to pass a bill that would constitute term limits for Congress. The bill has yet to hit the state senate floor.

“If you look at the definition of ‘legislate,’ it means to make or create laws,” said Israel. “That’s about one of the most powerful people that you could be, and if you take that person and allow them to do that for a lifetime, I think the susceptibility of being corrupt or becoming corrupt is way too high for anybody’s character, you know? Just human nature.

“This is the biggest problem in our government and the root of every other problem not getting better or becoming worse as far as I feel. If I can do something to change it in my lifetime it’ll be a good thing for generations to come.”

He encouraged citizens to contact their state senators often to make their desire for congressional term limits known.

To follow Israel’s walking progress, go to whereisizzy.com.

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