GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah delivered a powerful speech Friday in defense of the Bill of Rights, arguing the reason leftists hate these constitutional amendments is because they restrict what government can do.
Lee was among the first speakers to address the annual Conservative Political Action Conference — this year taking place in Orlando, Florida, rather than its normal venue just outside Washington, D.C., at Maryland’s National Harbor.
“The left, of course, does hate the Bill of Rights. Why?” Lee asked. “Because the Bill of Rights talks about things that the government can’t do, and that to them is like blasphemy. That’s the absolute worst because they want to use government.”
According to Lee, Democrats want to use government to build a “leftist utopia” — and the Bill of Rights gets in their way.
The senator focused his comments on the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
“I believe that there is one freedom in the First Amendment that’s central to all the others and is particularly worth highlighting today,” Lee said at the conference.
“Perhaps the one that’s least known, least appreciated, the least celebrated, but from which all others draw their strength and ultimately depend in one way or another, is our right to assemble, to do what we’re doing right here today,” he observed, to the cheers of the CPAC crowd of perhaps a thousand or more on-hand.
Lee argued that the right to assemble is intertwined with other rights found in the First Amendment of speech, religion, press and to petition one’s government.
“We can’t do any of these things without the freedom to assemble,” he said. “And it’s one of the main freedoms, not coincidentally, that’s been severely restricted with the growth of government that’s occurred during this global pandemic.”
“We’ve been prevented from gathering in our churches, in our schools, in our workplaces, in some cases even from gathering in protest while seeking redress of our grievances.”
The lawmaker further contended that the left puts too much faith in government and not enough in the people.
“We’re here today not because we have faith in government; we’re here because we have faith in the American people,” Lee said. “Those two work in opposite directions. It’s only when we’ve got faith in the American people that things work.”
“Our founders understood that at the end of the day some of the most dangerous threats come from government itself, because government is force and in that respect, it’s the opposite of freedom,” the conservative added.
Lee concluded with an echo of former President Ronald Reagan’s line from his first inaugural address: “We are a nation that has a government — not the other way around.”
“We’re here because we, as a group, choose liberty. We’re here because we believe, we understand that government works for us and not the other way around,” Lee said.
“We’re here because we trust the people and are skeptical of government.”