“Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prosperity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.”
— Senator Mike Lee, 10/8/10
As historic challenges to authoritarian rule — as well as challenges to democracy — erupt across the world, I want to make clear that, as a Republican Senator, I stand with democracy activists everywhere from Hong Kong to Hungary to Belarus to Brazil. I believe strongly that free and fair elections, coupled with robust civil liberties, create the best society for places that aren’t the United States.
China is a particularly bad actor. As the CCP challenges and even outright assaults freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet, we are witnessing the rise of the world’s first explicitly racist techno-authoritarian regime. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve read the authorities are using invasive tech to track down democracy activists and illegally surveil them.
That was either China or the US. One of the two. Probably both.
I’ve read that in China, people disappear into the criminal justice system on bogus charges, and if they don’t die in custody, then they’ll emerge with horrible stories about torture, sexual assault, and forced medical procedures that outrageously immoral doctors signed off on.
In these terrible other countries, the police commit acts of violence with impunity, politicians plunder the commons for the benefit of themselves and their friends, and citizens, lacking faith in the electoral process, feel that they have no recourse. I want to be as clear as possible: we need to interrupt this negative feedback loop unless it is occurring in the USA.
Because if it is happening in the USA, then it’s actually a good thing because the undermining of democracy and civil liberties makes it more likely that people in my party get elected. And my party is the only one that supports the American dream of people dying for no reason and the rich stealing from everybody else.
That’s what I stand for, and I won’t be bullied into thinking otherwise by democracy tyrants.
Take a moment and imagine what would happen if we had true representative democracy in this country — protests, boycotts, fair elections, a free press, the whole nine yards. There would be violence. There would be chaos. There would be terrorism, theft, and economic collapse.
That’s what Xi Jinping believes, too, and he’s right. Democracy is bad. I mean, it’s bad in the US. It’s good in China. Xi is right in the sense that he’s wrong in China, but he’s right in the US. I don’t think I can be any clearer than that.
I have tried hard to understand different perspectives on this issue. Just last week, I visited the president of Anarchy USA to hear him out. The Anarchy President is named Jason Craig and he lives in Rochester, Minnesota, with his roommate Liz Wentworth, who is in charge of marketing for Antifa. A nice guy, but he has some troubling ideas. I said, “President Craig, what do you want?”
He said, “A government by the people, for the people.”
Then Liz said, “Brownshirts are bad, and democracy is good.”
At that point, I realized there was no reasoning with these people. My party knows what’s best for others. That’s why seizing power is righteous. I honestly believe this.
I’ve even tried to understand Black Lives Matter. In August, I went to a BLM rally, shot rubber bullets at people, and as they were running away, I said, “Why are you so violent?”
I didn’t get a clear answer on that one, so I am left to assume what I’ve always suspected: some people just don’t make good choices when they’re given freedom. That’s why I’ve changed my campaign slogan from “Freedom!” to the more specific “Freedom means I do whatever I want all the time, and even if it harms you then you have to shut up and accept it because the authoritarian state is on my side.”
Anybody who’s against this vision of freedom is quite frankly un-American.
I’m not alone in condemning the human rights abuses of China, Belarus, and others. Human Rights Watch has done an admirable job documenting these abuses, and I encourage everyone to educate themselves on this issue. That said, I do need to clearly read HRW’s articles before sharing them because if they criticize the US, which they often do, then I need to look away.
Democracy activists in Hong Kong, Belarus, and Hungary: we are listening, we support you, and we are your ally. Democracy activists in the US: please go to jail.
In the Republican Party, I am considered a moderate.