After a top Republican lawmaker suggested the United States is “not a democracy,” he received push back from Democrats.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) claimed in a tweet this week, “We’re not a democracy,” following the vice-presidential debate. He also tweeted, “Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity [sic] are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.”
We’re not a democracy.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) October 8, 2020
Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) October 8, 2020
The word “democracy” appears nowhere in the Constitution, perhaps because our form of government is not a democracy. 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.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) October 8, 2020
Government is the official use of coercive force—nothing more and nothing less. The Constitution protects us by limiting the use of government force.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) October 8, 2020
During Friday’s interview on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the host Bill Maher pointed to Lee’s remarks and noted, “The Founding Fathers were afraid of direct democracy, that is true. But for a senator saying we’re not a democracy, it’s not the objective, that’s pretty dangerous talk, especially at this moment with this president.”
“Absolutely, absolutely,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) responded, adding, “It’s all the more astonishing because we see around the world a real challenge to democracy.”
Schiff added, “So to have a Republican senator say, “Yeah, you know, rank democracy isn’t such a good thing,’ that’s music to Putin’s ears, I’m sure. But in terms of the attacks on our own institutions… those kind of comments are just dangerous.”
Watch Schiff’s interview below:
Maher also noted that he believes the U.S. Constitution “needs a page one rewrite.” Schiff later added, “Who would you trust to draft a new Constitution, Mike Lee, Mitch McConnell, any of those jokers? I certainly wouldn’t.”
“I don’t have any confidence frankly that we could improve upon the work product of the Framers with the crowd that we have today, so I like it in theory but I think we’re better off focusing on discrete amendments to the Constitution,” Schiff added.
Schiff was not the only Democratic lawmaker to respond to Lee’s comments. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) previously tweeted, “I note that you were elected by the people of your state. America is a representative democracy. That means we are also a democracy.”
Lee explained his tweets to the Washington Examiner, “I get why people use the term. I also understand why a lot of people would think of it as either a non-issue or not something to be concerned about, but as I think about it, I think it’s a big deal, because in many ways, the whole idea of having a constitution itself, particularly a constitution that establishes a constitutional republic like ours, is materially different and distinct from a democracy.”
He also said, “In a democracy, when society decides, ‘Hey, let’s have a national church. Everybody has to go to that church.’ If you’ve got a majority for that, it’s gonna be the law. In a constitutional republic like ours, it operates according to elections, and in that respect … you have democratic forces at play. But to think of it as a democracy, and to refer to it obsessively as ‘our democracy’ sends the wrong message.”