'Why is that so hard to say?' CNN host slams GOP's Mike Lee for repeatedly refusing to call America a democracy
Mike Lee speaks to NBC (screen grab)

On CNN Tuesday, analyst John Avlon slammed Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) for his alleged complicity in former President Donald Trump's plot to overthrow the 2020 presidential election — and connected it to his previous repeated statements disdaining the idea that America is a democracy.

"Here's a civic riddle: how can a self-styled constitutional conservative rationalize trying to overturn an election?" said Avlon. "Well, that's what CNN's exclusive reporting reveals in those text messages between Republican Senator Mike Lee and Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows. The messages show that just days after the election, the senator from Utah was trying to work with The White House to overturn the will of the people. But you see, Lee is the son of President Reagan's solicitor general, so he was trying to find a fig leaf of constitutional credibility to do it. In fact, get this, Lee texted Meadows at least seven times about possible slates of alternate electors from key states as late as January 4th. We know now that those efforts to corral phony electors were occurring in a handful of states, but after the attack on the Capitol, Lee didn't vote with the eight Republican senators who refused to certify the election. But he did talk about that alternate electors scenario. Take a listen."

"In moments, Congress has to make a choice, it has to decide which of the electoral votes will be counted and which will not," said Lee in the clip. "That did not happen here, thank heavens. And let's hope it never does."

"Let's hope it never does, except that's what Lee was trying to do," said Avlon. "Now, the contradictions all start to make sense when you start looking at the context of a tweetstorm that Lee fired off in October 2020 saying that 'America is not a democracy.' He clarified, tweeting, 'The word democracy appears nowhere in the Constitution, perhaps because our form of government is not a democracy, it is a constitutional republic. That should matter to anyone worried about the excessive accumulation of power in the hands of a few.' Now, we're also a democratic republic, right? So why is that so hard to say, Senator? It is the last line that really seems ironic now, right, wording about the excessive accumulation of power in the hands of a few. Because that's of course what a plot to overturn the election would do."

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"In a press release later, Lee doubled down by explaining his problem with democracy is that, quote, 'it is often used to describe rule by majority,' which is the dictionary definition of democracy, government of the people, especially rule of the majority," said Avlon. "And that seems to be the real underlying issue here. A discomfort with majoritarian democracy among the Trumpist right. It is a definitive example of putting party over country. And by the way, props to NYU historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat, who recognized the danger of Lee's logic, saying, 'Such talk often precedes 'exceptional' and authoritarian government actions. Look for more of this in the future.' We sure did. If you need a reminder of why this is a rearview mirror exercise, remember the ex-president's lackeys are still pushing the Big Lie and trying to have the election decertified."

"If you're still not convinced, listen to what retired federal judge Michael Luttig told The New York Times: "This is the clearest and most present danger to our democracy. Trump is now preparing to lay the groundwork to overturn the election in 2024 were Trump, or his designee, to lose the vote for the presidency,'" said Avlon. "Those are the stakes. And that's why we need truth and accountability for Trump's plot. Don't forget, defending our democracy should be something that unites us across partisan lines."

Watch below:

John Avlon on Mike Lee's disdain for democracy www.youtube.com


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