In a speech Saturday evening to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition at the group’s 13th annual fall banquet in Des Moines, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) argued that now is the time for the Tea Party movement to take its next steps, take control of American government, and frame America’s future with a focus on conservative and liberty-minded principles.
Lee compared the movement’s next stages to those of the American revolution, noting how the earliest stages of revolution began in Boston with the Boston Tea Party, where a band of protesters dumped British tea in the Boston Harbor as a sign of disapproval of the high taxes the British had levied on them. That eventually turned into the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia after Americans fought and won their independence from the British.
“In order to chart our course forward, join me on a journey back,” Lee said in the speech, according to an advance copy provided to Breitbart News. “Back to a time when the people of this continent were just as frustrated with their oppressive government as all of us here tonight are with the Federal government today.”
Lee noted that in 1773, “a group of Americans had had it with the King George establishment which was too big, too expensive and too intrusive in their lives.”
“What would become known as the Boston Tea Party became a clarion cry against the kind of government the colonists did not want,” Lee said. “It turned out to be a pretty important party and a very big deal. But had they stopped at just protesting against the kind of government they didn’t want the Boston Tea Party would not have been even a footnote in history. It would have been just one more vain protest against an oppressive federal establishment.”
Lee explained how the Founding Fathers of America “pressed forward from Boston” and continued their protest and “began a journey toward the kind of government they did want” instead of just protesting a government they disliked.
“It took them 14 long years to get from Boston to Philadelphia, where in 1787 they created, in the Constitution, the kind of government they did want,” Lee said. “Boston to Philadelphia. That is a good model for us to follow today.”
Lee argued that the Tea Party movement and conservatives must always fight against “bad government,” but that the movement must also find a way forward to fight for the right kind of government. “While we must always challenge and fight against bad government we must also be found promoting and pursing the policy path toward the kind of federal government we do want and the people deserve,” Lee said. “Unfortunately with this administration we have, of necessity, had a lot of Boston battles – from fiscal cliffs and attacks on our 2nd amendment rights to sequester and of course, Obamacare.”
“So let me be clear – we will never back down from a Boston moment – and we will never stop rallying the American people to fight those battles,” he explained. “But it is just as important to keep our eyes in the direction of Philadelphia and the principles and policies which will lead us ultimately to the kind of government we do want.”
According to Des Moines Register, Lee was in Iowa to rally conservatives for the next phases of the battle ahead. He is not running for president–“absolutely not” he answered when asked by the Iowa paper if he would consider a White House bid. Instead, what Lee is doing is becoming the intellectual leader of the conservatives in the U.S. Senate.
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), the conservatives with whom Lee usually keeps company, are each potential presidential candidates in 2016. Lee is not, and that puts him in a unique position to focus on accomplishing building the conservative movement and a future message for the Republican Party.
In the past few weeks, Lee has developed a new agenda for the GOP focused on populism. Matt Continetti noted in the Weekly Standard that Lee argued that in a recent speech delivered to the Heritage Foundation, “Candidates need policy ideas that address the concerns of ordinary voters–and they have to campaign, and win, on those ideas.”
Lee’s goal, as he said in the Iowa speech on Saturday, is to help the GOP and the conservative movement develop a platform from which to win the hearts and minds of voters, and more importantly, get the country back on the track to prosperity.
“To deserve victory, conservatives have to do more than pick a fight,” Lee said. “We have to win a debate. And to do that, we need more than just guts. We need an agenda.”
“It is a long march from Boston to Philadelphia,” he added. “And make no mistake – there are more Boston battles ahead and ‘we the people’ must always be ready to stand up and speak out against the kind of government we do not want. Bad government and bad policy must always be hit, and stopped, head on. Likewise, we must always have the vision of Philadelphia before us – a vision and an agenda for the type of government and they kind of country we do want.”
This has been Lee’s plan since he was elected in 2010, and he is executing it step by step. In 2010, in his election night victory speech, Lee also made the argument that the Tea Party movement needs to travel from Boston to Philadelphia.