These are the prepared remarks for Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee's Tea Party rebuttal to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech. Read full speech coverage from U.S. News here.
I’m Senator Mike Lee, from Utah.
In the few minutes I have tonight – I’d like to speak especially to those Americans who may feel they have been forgotten by both political parties:
Those individuals and families who work hard, play by the rules, balance their budgets, honor the Golden Rule ... and don’t understand why their government in Washington can’t do the same.
You are probably as frustrated as I am about an ever-growing government that somehow thinks it is okay to lie to, spy on and even target its own citizens. Many hard-working Americans are discouraged and wondering what, if anything, can be done.
I believe we need to do what Americans have always done – come together and press for positive change. Protesting against dysfunctional government is a great American tradition, going back to the original Tea Party in Boston, about 240 years ago. Americans have a natural instinct to stand up and speak out when they know something is wrong.
In 1773, Americans had simply had it with a London-based national government that had become too big, too expensive and far too intrusive.
It is important to note, however, that had the founding generation stopped at just protesting against the kind of government Americans did not want, the Boston Tea Party would have been little more than a footnote in history. At most, it would have been remembered as just one more futile protest against an abusive national government.
Fortunately for all of us, those early patriots moved on from Boston and moved past their protest against the government they didn’t want. They marched forward on a road toward the kind of government they did want.
It took them 14 long years to get from Boston to Philadelphia, where they created, with our Constitution, the kind of government they did want.
In America, the test of any political movement is not what that movement is against, but what it is for. The founders made a point at Boston Harbor, but they made history in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.
Unfortunately, in recent years, we have had no choice but to engage in a number of protests against our current president’s Washington-centered agenda.
As Americans we must always be willing to fight the Boston-type battles -— boldly calling out bad policy whenever we see it — but we must do so with an eye toward Philadelphia, maintaining a positive focus on the kind of nation we want to be and become.
Today, Americans know in their hearts that something is wrong. Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the “American Dream” is falling out of reach for far too many of us. We are facing an inequality crisis — one to which the President has paid lip-service, but seems uninterested in truly confronting or correcting.
This inequality crisis presents itself in three principal forms:
To be fair, President Obama and his party did not create all of these problems. The Republican Establishment in Washington can be just as out-of-touch as the Democratic Establishment.
However, tonight, as on numerous occasions of late, the President’s lofty rhetoric ignored the fact that his administration continues to leave poor and middle-class families further behind, while he and his allies insist that the real problem is “inequality” itself.
But where does this new inequality come from? From government — every time it takes rights and opportunities away from the American people and gives them instead to politicians, bureaucrats, and special interests.