Utah Sen. Mike Lee takes bold stand against democracy

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The GOP senior senator from Utah spent hours on Twitter sharing his views on the U.S. political system.

On Wednesday night, Utah Sen. Mike Lee tweeted his view of the United States.

"We're not a democracy," said the Republican, currently serving his second term in the U.S. Senate.

"Democracy isn't the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity [sic] are," Lee added several hours later. "We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that." 

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Lee took another bold stand against democracy the same day.

"The word 'democracy' appears nowhere in the Constitution, perhaps because our form of government is not a democracy," he said. "It's a constitutional republic. To me it matters. It should matter to anyone who worries about the excessive accumulation of power in the hands of the few."

Conn Carroll, a spokesperson in Lee's Washington, D.C., office, explained Lee's intentions to the American Independent Foundation.

"At a time when the democratic party is talking about packing the Supreme Court, getting rid of the electoral college, and taking over the Senate and House of Representatives, Sen. Lee wanted to draw attention to the fact that the founders created Republican checks on Democratic passions," Carroll said in an email.

The tone-deaf statements come at a moment when mail-in voting is an urgent issue on both sides of the aisle, with Donald Trump suggesting that absentee balloting will result in massive voter fraud, and Democrats worried that he'll use claims of electoral fraud as a pretext for refusing a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.

Lee has made his feelings about democracy clear. But where does the senator stand on "liberty, peace, and prospefity"?

Liberty

To Lee's credit, he has spearheaded criminal justice reform in the GOP, collaborating with Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker to draft a reform bill focused on reducing harsh mandatory minimum sentences. But his commitment to liberty goes only so far.

Lee is one of a handful of GOP lawmakers who witnessed the detention of immigrants at the border and did nothing substantive to address the issue.

"Forty-four days," shouted men in cages at a detention facility near McAllen, Texas, during a visit by Lee and Vice President Mike Pence in July 2019. That's how long they'd been held without being able to take a shower. Lee released a statement blaming the Obama administration for the conditions.

Peace

Lee has previously advocated for limiting executive power in setting military policy. Nevertheless, according to the website On the Issues, Lee exhibits the standard GOP militarism and support for Israel.

Lee's 2010 campaign website included support for military action against Iran as a possible approach to dealing with the country's nuclear program: "The government currently ruling in Iran presents a threat to the security of both the United States and Israel. I will therefore support efforts to place pressure on the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with an eye toward persuading Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions. Should those efforts prove unsuccessful, military action would be justified."

The website also called for American troops to remain in Afghanistan until all threats to U.S. national security were "neutralized."

Prosperity 

Like many Republicans, Lee has long been on a mission to gut programs that help middle class and poor families stay afloat.

"Three entitlement programs--Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid--are on a course that is as disturbing as it is unsustainable," his campaign website read in 2010. "Through these programs, Congress has promised to provide roughly $50 trillion in 'unfunded' benefits to Americans who are alive today--that is, benefits for which Congress lacks the financial means to pay. This is irresponsible."

In 2017, Lee sponsored S. 1290, the Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act. Among other measures, it would have added onerous work requirements for people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and withdrawn federal funding from states that didn't lower their welfare costs. The bill died at the end of the session.

Lee has also called for defunding and repealing Obamacare. "The Affordable Care Act is a collusive, corrupt, and deeply flawed method of control for the sick and those with preexisring [sic] conditions," he tweeted in between sharing his thoughts on democracy.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, President Barack Obama's signature policy has lowered health care costs by providing 33 million people with health insurance coverage.

Lee announced that he was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Oct. 2, the same day Donald Trump announced his own positive text results. Lee was one of a handful of GOP lawmakers who contracted the virus after failing to follow basic safety protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His outlook appeared rosy, perhaps because as a sitting senator he doesn't have to worry about health care costs due to his government-funded health plan.

Even after his diagnosis, Lee's focus was on other things — namely rushing through confirmation of Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett: "I have spoken with Leader McConnell and Chairman Graham, and assured them I will be back to work in time to join my Judiciary Committee colleagues in advancing the Supreme Court nomination," Lee said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.