A President's Day Conversation With Senator Mike Lee

With President Donald Trump dominating news cycle 24/7, many Americans are happy to forget politics and spend President's Day relaxing. It has become just another three-day weekend to go to the movies or take the family on a quick vacation. Not for Utah Senator Mike Lee. In a recent phone interview, Lee shared his feelings on this particular holiday --- President's Day.

Strong Roots

From his childhood, Lee developed a deep reverence for the Constitution, love for the Republic and respect for the office that continues to this day.

"As a Latter-day Saint (Mormon), I was taught by my parents that these were wise men raised up by God for that very purpose," Lee said. "Those involved in writing the Constitution --- not to say every word was inspired or infallible or their words were flawless, but on the whole --- the government they devised was absolutely brilliant. And it is a document that to the extent that we follow it, it has led to the greatest civilization the world has ever known."

Earliest President's Day Memory

While attending various Lincoln Day dinners in Utah and around the country, Lee's thoughts drifted back to his kindergarten days and the lessons he learned about the Constitution and two of our greatest presidents.

"My teacher made us a cake the Friday before President's Day, and it was decorated with this elaborate frosting depicting the faces of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington," Lee said.

His teacher taught Lee and the other children about the sacrifices these two presidents and their families made for a great cause and the Constitution.

"I always reflect back on that on President's Day," he said.

Respect for the Office

Throughout Donald Trump's presidential run, the Utah senator made no secret of his opposition to Trump's candidacy. But now, because of his deep respect for the office, Lee is looking for common ground with the President.

"There's nothing that will weigh a person down faster, more relentlessly than contempt for another human being," Lee said. "When you respect people who hold that office, even when you disagree, it actually makes life better. It causes you to look for ways to be constructive."

Favorite President

Because of his reputation as one of the most conservative members of the Senate, you might think Lee's favorite president would be someone like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, right? Possibly Ronald Reagan?

Nope.

While he agreed all three of those belong on Mount Rushmore, leave it to Sen. Lee to choose one of the more obscure and widely ignored presidents of the last century to add to the group.

"Calvin Coolidge is not treated fairly by historians --- not even remotely," Lee said. "He's not treated well, perhaps in part because of his political philosophy, but he is the type of president we should always aspire to have."

One of the things Lee said he admired most about Calvin Coolidge was his deep respect for the Constitution.

"He was going to recognize limited power for the federal government at a time when it was rapidly becoming more fashionable to advocate for more government," Lee said.

Coolidge fought back against powerful interests within his own party advocating for bigger government, for higher taxes. He even went to war with large entities like the Chamber of Commerce who wanted higher taxes, while Coolidge wanted to reduce the tax rate. They fought him on this aggressively, but he won and convinced Congress to lower the rate.

"As he did that, even though he was mocked and ridiculed at every turn for taking this position, he was ultimately proven right," Lee said. "As they reduced the tax rate, the economy flourished and they actually brought in more revenue."

Coolidge was not only fiscally conservative but also knew the power in leaving things well enough alone. Sen. Lee referred to Amity Shlaes biography of Coolidge and his belief that government could cause harm with poor legislation.

No-Good Government Solutions

"Once a bad law is put in place it takes on a life of its own, it has its own inertia. It's there and it will continue, absent some other action," Lee said. "So it can be very hard to get rid of a bad law."

Ronald Reagan was famously quoted as saying: "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

Reagan would be spinning in his grave to know how much faith has been put in those people who are "here to help." Lee discussed the type of president we need to fix that problem.

"In an era over the last hundred years or so, we've seen the rise of the progressive movement in America. We've seen the American people put an almost religious-like faith in the government," Lee said. "Coolidge stands out in open defiance against that both for constitutional reasons and policy reasons that had to do with the need to protect the common man."

Optimism About Trump's Presidency

Now that Trump has been elected, his apparent reverence for the office has Lee optimistic.

"I'm hopelessly optimistic," Lee said with a chuckle. "I always believe that someone who believes in that kind of approach is willing to stick with it even though it's difficult, is willing to remain consistent with it, needs to be president and will be president. Our current president has just taken office and he could decide to be that type of president and I would be thrilled if he did."

Conservatives are often heard pining for the next Ronald Reagan, but according to Sen. Lee, America might be even better off with another Calvin Coolidge. Whether Trump can be that type of president remains to be seen. But we can all take a page from what a young Mike Lee learned back in kindergarten: Respect the office, reinforce the fabric of our great nation and be optimistic.

Elected in 2010 as Utah's 16th Senator, Mike Lee has spent his career defending the basic liberties of Americans and Utahns as a tireless advocate for our founding constitutional principles.

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.