Utah Sen. Mike Lee on Friday kicked off CPAC — the national Conservative Political Action Conference — by saying that the left hates the Bill of Rights because it limits what they want to use government to force on others.
“That to them is blasphemy. That is the absolute worst because they want to use government,” the Utah Republican said in the opening speech of the annual conference.
He added that government “is the official collective use of force. It is coercive force. So, faith in government means tyranny. You can’t have faith in government without promoting tyranny. And faith in people means freedom.”
Lee argued that the Bill of Rights is under attack.
“Their sole agenda is putting more faith in government. And as a result, they take steps inevitably to make us less free,” he said. “Our fundamental freedoms are coming under attack more and more each and every day.”
He said the right to assemble has especially been weakened by leaders from the left during the pandemic.
“Freedom of religion depends on it [the right to assemble], core political speech is downstream from it, the right to petition government is bound to it, and the freedom of the press presupposes that. We can’t do any of these things without the freedom to assemble,” he said.
“Not coincidentally, it’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 and in our workplaces, in some cases even from gathering in protest while seeking redress of grievances.”
Lee said it could lead to a collapse of other freedoms.
“Those in power have struck at the core piece that has the ability to cause the whole structure to collapse,” he said. “And we’re suffering the consequences.”
He specifically attacked Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom, saying he faces a recall effort because residents “have had enough of these stringent closures,” including being told they could not attend church while Newsom was pictured ignoring COVID-19 restrictions at a fundraiser with supporters at an upscale Napa Valley restaurant.
“Of course, you can enjoy that meal there only if you can afford the $10,000 a plate entry price, but that’s another issue,” Lee griped. Of note, last week Lee himself held a fundraiser that cost $10,600 per couple at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Lee said in promoting greater protection for the freedom to assemble, “The nation and the world have been changed by groups of clear minded, purposefully law-abiding Americans assembling together. That’s how our country was born and it’s how we fought successfully to maintain our liberty thus far. And it’s why we’re here today.”
Lee told conservatives that a key to protecting freedom is for residents to have more skepticism in government and more faith in people.
“Those two things work against each other: skepticism in government and faith in the people,” he said.
Two other Utahns are also scheduled to address CPAC — former Rep. Jason Chaffez on Friday afternoon and Rep. Burgess Owens on Saturday. Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to be the final speaker of the gathering on Saturday. And in contrast, CPAC is openly hostile to Utah’s other senator, Mitt Romney, in large part because of Romney’s criticisms of Trump.