The election of Louisiana’s Mike Johnson as House Speaker proves the premise that all the GOP has left are Donald Trump and hate.
As Congressman Jamie Raskin told reporters yesterday:
“Donald Trump has cemented his control over the Republican conference in the House of Representatives. He has a stranglehold on the Republican Party. Even as he faces 91 criminal charges and several of his election lawyers have pleaded guilty now to election-related offenses, one of his enablers on January 6 has just become the speaker of the House Representatives.”
Johnson as election denier and supporter of the Big Lie
Johnson’s hate of Democrats is so deep that he led a Trump-backed effort in the House to get Republicans to back a lawsuit by 18 Republican state attorneys general to overturn Biden’s election as president.
Their lawsuit had no merit and no facts — everybody, including the Republicans involved, knew that Biden had won fair-and-square — but Republican hate of Democrats is now so deep that the idea of Democrats legitimately governing after winning an election is repugnant to them. No matter how big the Democrats’ victory (7 million votes in this case) may be.
Johnson went public with his support of Trump’s hateful, poisonous Big Lie just a week after the 2020 election, saying:
“You know the allegations about these voting machines, some of them being rigged with this software by Dominion, there's a lot of merit to that...They know that in Georgia it really was rigged.”
As The Washington Post noted at the time:
“Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, spearheaded the effort to round up support on Capitol Hill. Johnson emailed all House Republicans on Wednesday to solicit signatures for the long-shot Texas case after Trump called. The congressman told his colleagues that the president ‘will be anxiously awaiting the final list to review.’”
Johnson got 106 of the 196 Republicans then in the House to sign on to the effort to force four swing states to throw out Democratic votes and declare Trump emperor for life: he was the legal architect of the argument. It doesn’t get more hateful against our republican form of government than that effort to destroy confidence in the vote at the cornerstone of our democracy.
Johnson as Handmaid champion
Johnson’s hate of women having agency over their own bodies and lives is so intense that he has repeatedly championed a nationwide ban on abortion.
His wife Kelly, a “licensed pastoral counselor” with whom he’s in a “covenant marriage,” makes money from Louisiana Right To Life, and before being elected to the House in 2016 he was an attorney for the far-right-billionaire-supported Alliance Defending Freedom that pushed the Dobbs case before the Supreme Court.
While there, he helped sue New York and New Jersey to force them to allow official state license plates that displayed an anti-woman, anti-abortion message; sued New Orleans to try to block benefits for the partners of queer city employees; and promoted a “National Day of Truth” to encourage homophobic students to hate on their LGBTQ+ peers.
Johnson as hater of queer people and their allies
“Radical homosexual advocacy groups” are promoting “the culture’s assault on traditional values,” Johnson wrote in an op-ed for a Louisiana newspaper. That “assault,” of course, was gay marriage, something that horrifies Johnson and his wife.
“Same-sex ‘marriage’ selfishly and deliberately deprives children of either a mother or a father. Children need both. Homosexual relationships are inherently unnatural and, the studies clearly show, are ultimately harmful and costly for everyone.
“Society cannot give its stamp of approval to such a dangerous lifestyle. If we change marriage for this tiny, modern minority, we will have to do it for every deviant group. Polygamists, polyamorists, pedophiles, and others will be next in line to claim equal protection. They already are. There will be no legal basis to deny a bisexual the right to marry a partner of each sex, or a person to marry his pet.”
Johnson also supports a federal version of DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law that would outlaw any discussion of queer people in any public school classroom in America. In another anti-gay newspaper screed, Johnson wrote:
“Your race, creed and sex are what you are, while homosexuality and cross-dressing are things you do. This is a free country, but we don’t give special protections for every person’s bizarre choices. Where would it end? This is one Pandora's box we shouldn’t open.”
Johnson’s other values and hatreds
While Johnson hates queer people, he apparently loves Vladimir Putin, an affection that has earned him the loyalty and help of Donald Trump.
Last month he joined Matt Gaetz and 93 other Republicans in voting to cut off all US military aid to assist Ukraine’s survival in the face of Russia’s ongoing terror campaign.
He’s also a friend to mass shooters and the psychopaths at the NRA.
Johnson repeatedly voted against gun safety and gun control legislation, and voted against re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act.
Hating on Medicare and Social Security is another specialty of Johnson and the GOP. As Social Security Works Executive Director Alex Lawson noted yesterday:
“Rep. Mike Johnson has a long history of hostility towards Social Security and Medicare. As Chair of the Republican Study Committee from 2019-2021, Johnson released budgets that included $2 trillion in cuts to Medicare and $750 billion in cuts to Social Security, including:
— Raising the retirement age
— Decimating middle class benefits
— Making annual cost-of-living increases smaller
— Moving towards privatization of Social Security and Medicare.”
Johnson also pushed for $3 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), saying slashing the entitlement programs should be Congress’ “top priority.” Johnson is also a huge advocate for a Catfood Commission to figure out ways to slash Social Security benefits to seniors (thus forcing them to eat catfood: the White House refers to it as a “death panel for Social Security”).
Like Red state Republican politicians beholden to the tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical industries, Johnson also hates marijuana. He’s repeatedly argued and voted against legalization, as well as helping shoot down a bill that would let legal pot dispensaries use banks to conduct their business.
Hating on science and our children’s future is a feature, not a bug, of Republican politics, and Mike Johnson fits right in. The largest single group of donors to his political career have been the oil and gas industries, and he happily takes their money and spreads their lies. For example, he argued:
“The climate is changing, but the question is, is it being caused by natural cycles over the span of the Earth’s history? Or is it changing because we drive SUVs? I don’t believe in the latter. I don’t think that’s the primary driver.”
The League of Conservation Voters gave his environmental record a 0 percent (yes, zero) score for 2022: this guy has burrowed so deeply in Big Oil’s pocket that he’s like a blood-filled tick on a shaggy dog. He’ll never let go.
On voting rights, Johnson hates voters in Blue cities in Red states as much as their own Republican legislatures do. A big fan of voter suppression laws, he argued that making it harder to vote and purging people from voter rolls would help the GOP in the 2022 election:
“They’re making sure that the election results can be counted upon, and that’s a critical thing for us to do.”
That was followed by his voting against the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For The People Act, both of which would have guaranteed Americans’ right to vote regardless of race, religion, or geography. On the other hand, he voted for a Republican bill that would have enshrined GOP voter suppression efforts nationwide.
Like Rand Paul and Tommy Tuberville, Johnson apparently also hates our men and women serving in the armed forces.
He voted against the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Actthat President Biden was cheerleading because it would aid service members like Biden’s son Beau who became deathly sick because of exposure to open-air burn pits and other toxins.
He also voted against a year-end package of bills to aid service members, including requiring states to honor the professional licenses of military spouses who find themselves stationed in states other than where they were originally certified. And he joined Tuberville in his opposition to the Pentagon paying to fly raped servicewomen stationed in countries or states where abortion is illegal to places where it is available.
Johnson has supported a few Republican military spending bills, but only, as military.com noted, when they are “packed with GOP policy riders such as provisions to bar abortion services, transgender health care, and LGBTQ+ Pride flags at the VA.”
Johnson, like most Republicans who hate the idea of Brown people entering our country legally, is also a “border hawk,” having visited our southern border with Donald Trump and introduced two pieces of legislation that would restrict immigration and refugee status. Speaking of his desire to “build a wall” and keep would-be refugees out of the US, he said:
“Now, I have no illusions about this. I’m sure that President Biden will veto anything we send him, but it will send a very strong message. If we can’t override a veto, we’ll be ready to run when the next Republican president is elected two years later.”
Republicans like Johnson love to plaster the word “freedom” all over everything they do. But they’re just fine with a for-profit prison industry lobbying for harsher sentences, and to keeping draconian drug laws in place.
When Republicans say “freedom,” it’s a safe bet they mean they want the freedom to hate on minorities, the freedom of rich people and giant corporations to screw average working people, and the freedom of billionaires to continue paying only around 3 percent of their income in income taxes.
In MAGA Mike Johnson (what Trump calls him), Republicans have found the perfect embodiment of their deplorable basket of hatreds. At this point, the only “loves” they have are rightwing billionaires and the fossil fuel industry. And, of course, Trump’s good buddy and fossil fuel oligarch Vladimir Putin.