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.
Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who is now a Fox News contributor, also talked to CPAC on Friday, and also said that liberals “want more control, more power, more money — and the solution to everything is the government.”
Chaffetz condemned what he calls “disaster liberalism,” or an attempt by the left to take advantage of disasters such as COVID-19 to push government intervention and actions they otherwise could not achieve.
“They’ve figured out that with a disaster, they get unlimited powers,” he said. “COVID was their opportunity to take advantage of a crisis and start doing things they would never, ever be allowed to do otherwise.”
Chaffetz charged that the left and the mainstream media “create facades, and they do it in unison” about former President Donald Trump and conservatives that are not true. “They paint these pictures, and it gets frustrating and hard and difficult sometimes because you feel like you’re up against the three branches of government: the executive branch, the New York Times and MSNBC.”
Chaffetz added, “We’re like minds here. We believe that Donald Trump was one of the best presidents ever serve to our nation.”
Chaffetz actually received his loudest applause when he attacked Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who is unpopular at CPAC because of his criticisms of Trump and votes to impeach him.
Chaffetz said, “I’m from Utah and I am not Mitt Romney. If you’re looking for Pierre Delecto [a pen name that Romney used online], you need to go down the hall, go left and then just keep going left until well, just keep going left. That’s where you’ll find him.”
Another Utahn, Rep. Burgess Owens, is scheduled to talk to CPAC on Saturday. Trump is scheduled to be the concluding speaker at the conference on Saturday.