Lee addresses Freedom Forum, young politicians during Southern Utah visit; ‘assert your rights or risk losing them’

Sen. Lee speaking to the crowd at the Freedom Forum, St. George, Utah, Sept. 6, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – U.S. Sen. Mike Lee spoke to a packed house Friday night at the inaugural Freedom Forum, held at the Gardner Center on the Dixie State University campus. He addressed a myriad of topics related to the need for the American people to stand together and assert their constitutional rights before the government gradually takes those rights away.

Before speaking at the forum, sponsored by the Washington County Republican Party, Lee visited with students of George Washington Academy and members of the Teenage Republicans.

Sen. Lee with the winners of the student body elections at George Washington Academy, St. George, Utah, Sept. 6, 2013 | Photo courtesy of George Washington Academy, St. George News
Sen. Lee with the winners of the student body elections at George Washington Academy, St. George, Utah, Sept. 6, 2013 | Photo courtesy of George Washington Academy, St. George News

George Washington Academy

On Thursday, students in grades 5-8 at the George Washington Academy charter school in St. George held their student elections. The following day, Lee visited a school assembly and answered questions about the electoral process. He also spoke to students about the Constitution and posed for photos with the student election winners.

Teenage Republicans

Before addressing a packed house in the Gardner Center, Lee spent time with members of the Teenage Republicans from around the county.

I’m glad you’re getting involved early,” Lee said.

Lee told the youth that the Affordable Healthcare Act needs to be stopped and he is doing what he can in Washington, D.C. to achieve that end. “We can’t let that law take effect,” he said.

He also took questions on the Second Amendment and U.S. military action against Syria. Lee said he and other senators, namely Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, are ardent supporters of the right to bear arms (or arm bears?) and will continue to fight against federal gun control measures.

As for Syria, Lee said that his office has received around 1,500 calls on the matter alone, and the overwhelming majority were against the U.S. stepping in.

Sen. Lee speaking to the crowd at the Freedom Forum, St. George, Utah, Sept. 6, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Sen. Lee speaking to the crowd at the Freedom Forum, St. George, Utah, Sept. 6, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Freedom Forum

Lee served as guest speaker at the first in a series of public events called the “Freedom Forums.” Nick Lang, chair of the county Republican party, said upcoming speakers will include Rep. Chris Stewart and Gov. Gary Herbert.

Lee began his remarks by sharing stories related to his being one of Utah’s youngest senators, age 39 at the time of his election in 2010. He said there have been numerous times he was not recognized by congressional security as a senator at first. Instead, they mistook him for a staff member due to his age.

One of things that he hadn’t been doing, Lee said, was wearing a special lapel pin on his suit that notified security staff he was indeed a senator. He referred to the pin as his “Sorry, Senator” pin, for the reaction he repeatedly gets from security when he has to point it out.

Lee said he had to assert his position as a senator, something which he was not comfortable with at first. He then tied that story into the theme of his speech: People needing to be willing to stand up and assert their constitutional rights and freedoms.

If we fail to assert our rights, Lee said, then we will lose them to people who will assert those rights out of existence.

Sen. Lee speaking to the Teenage Republicans before the Freedom Forum, St. George, Utah, Sept. 6, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Sen. Lee speaking to the Teenage Republicans before the Freedom Forum, St. George, Utah, Sept. 6, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Lee pulled out a worn pocket-size copy of the Constitution that he said some people in the nation’s capitol make fun of him for carrying. They tell him the Constitution is quaint and outdated: it was made for an agrarian society; a product of yesterday that no longer adequately applies to the modern age.

A lot of our important laws are old,” Lee said, adding that the older the law, the better and simpler it is. “Get over it.”

There are two things that help build the country and keep it strong, Lee said, and government has little to do with either.

The first contains what he referred to as “the robust institutions of civil society.” This includes churches, charities, volunteer institutions, businesses, families and hardworking individuals. The second is a free market, void of excessive government regulation and interference.

Through these we see the needs of the people taken care of without government interference,” Lee said. Government can’t create the institutions of civil society, he said, but it can easily obliterate them. “Once they are destroyed, we cannot easily get them back,” he said.

Lee also spoke of wanting to gradually cut spending to government programs as a way to lower the national deficit over sudden and severe “draconian cuts” that would hurt many people, particularly the poor.

As he closed his remarks, Lee invited his audience to join him in asserting their constitutional rights, so Congress cannot not take them away through continual power grabs. Whenever government gets involved in something, especially when it involves the “robust institutions of civil society,” government only makes things worse, no matter which party spearheads it, Lee said.

Sen. Lee speaking to constituents after his speech, St. George, Utah, Sept. 6, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Sen. Lee speaking to constituents after his speech, St. George, Utah, Sept. 6, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Reaction

While Lee received a standing ovation and cheers at the close of his speech, not everyone present was impressed. A small contingency from the Washington County Democratic Party also attended the forum and one of them, Robert Maloney, said he appreciated Lee visiting Southern Utah yet was not exactly inspired by the senator’s words.

I felt he was being unfair talking about cutting the Affordable Care Act without putting anything forward that would be an alternative,” Maloney said. (Though Lee did not mention the act by name during his speech, he did say there should be a gradual cutback on government-funded social programs.)

Maloney, who described himself as a member of a minority, also said he was disappointed he saw so few minorities represented in the audience. “(Lee) is a senator for the whole state and (the organizers) didn’t do a good job of getting minorities here tonight,” he said.

Conversely, Zac Stucki, who did not identify a party affiliation, liked what he heard.

He said a lot of things I was feeling but I think we sometimes feel like we can’t say,” Stucki said. “It’s our job to say these things or else nothing is going to change.”

Related posts

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Sen. Lee speaking to the crowd at the Freedom Forum, St. George, Utah, Sept. 6, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Sen. Lee speaking to the crowd at the Freedom Forum, St. George, Utah, Sept. 6, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

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7 Comments

  • Karen September 7, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    “Lee pulled out a worn pocket-size copy of the Constitution that he said some people in the nation’s capitol make fun of him for carrying. They tell him the Constitution is quaint and outdated: it was made for an agrarian society; a product of yesterday that no longer adequately applies to the modern age.”

    Really, Mike? I’ve heard some tall tales but this one is a doozy! Please, Mike, tell us who these people are that would say the Constitution is “quaint”.

    One another note, here’s hoping you are a one-term senator!

    • Tom September 7, 2013 at 10:51 pm

      Nothing but a grandstanding tea… blowhard.
      Ed. ellipsis

  • Dixielambs September 7, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    I attended this forum, and was impressed that Sen Lee has apparently been reading my FB posts. Though he articulated my positions much better than i could have.

  • Fred September 8, 2013 at 1:02 am

    We are very proud of Senator Lee. One of the few who still care about the Constitution.

  • philiplo September 11, 2013 at 8:06 am

    He cares about the constitution? Yet he’s doing everything he can to sabotage a law that was passed by both houses of congress, signed by the president and upheld by the US Supreme Court. He’s doing everything he can to deny healthcare coverage to over 30 million Americans. He’s leading a drive to shut down the entire US government over this, and has talked of impeaching our duly elected (TWICE) president. Instead of caring for the sick, he would rather default on financial obligations incurred by the body he is a member of.

    Tom had it right (above). Senator Lee is a grandstanding, tea… blowhard.
    Ed. ellipsis

  • Dixielambs September 11, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Well, philipio…. now that a few of our legislators have actually read the legislation that they voted for without knowing the details, and it has become apparent that the net effects of the bill will be bad for the country, neither making health care more affordable or improving it’s quality… it is time for the few in congress, who actually have a conscience, to do all they legally can to scrap it. For my part, I think I have a right to be exempt from anything from which congress and the unions are exempt.
    Defunding the legislation is as much part of the legislative process as was the passing of it. And it is the right thing to do…. The “affordable Health Care Act” (that is a title, not a description) contains way too much pork, exemptions for special interests and government expansion to be good legislation…

  • Dixielambs September 11, 2013 at 8:54 am

    And I understand why you think Toms remark was eloquent… if you have no reasons for your views, one can always resort to “name calling”.

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