Newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., thanks U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., after she delivered his nomination speech as the House of Representatives held an election for a new speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 25, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Mike Johnson, the smiling and utterly retrograde new U.S. Speaker of the House, got the big job because Matt Gaetz and Donald Trump allowed it.
That’s right, y’all: The guy with the 91 felony charges and the loudmouth jerk with the penchant for very young women pretty much control what goes on in one half of Congress.
Johnson is their sort of human hand grenade, an extreme Christian Nationalist who echoes Great Replacement Theory, a “Young Earth Creationist” who believes the Almighty spoke the world into being 6000 years ago and says homosexual relationships are “unnatural.”
In Johnson’s legal and moral opinion “deviant groups” such as bisexuals, pedophiles, polygamists, polyamorists, and other weirdos will use that pesky Constitution to demand equal treatment under the law and allow a person to “marry his pet.”
(Quick, Fluffy! Run!)
He not only hates the gay and wants to pray it away, and he isn’t keen on women, either — except as talking incubators.
Johnson on abortion
Testifying on a Texas abortion ban in 2021, Johnson said, “when a woman is pregnant, science tells us that the new life she carries is a completely separate and full new human being from the moment of fertilization.”
“Science” tells us nothing of the sort, but this man doesn’t know cell biology from a chocolate cake.
He’s tickled pink that the U.S Supreme Court overturned Roe. He’d like to go further and impose a national ban on abortion.
Not only is abortion a sin — and assumes the talking incubators are as important as adorable little babies — it’s an assault on American culture.
See, if women aren’t allowed to terminate a pregnancy, they’ll be forced to produce more “able-bodied workers,” which would mean nobody need ever hire one of those dubious Mexican drug-dealing, gang-banging lawn-care people again!
Johnson is said to be a “nice guy.” All this means is he has good manners and doesn’t habitually froth at the mouth in the manner of Marjorie Taylor Greene.
As Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said, he’s “Jim Jordan in a suit jacket.”
Nobody, not even the cheeriest and silliest legislator, thinks Johnson will compromise. On anything. If he does, well, look what happened to Kevin McCarthy.
A self-described “constitutional lawyer” with a remarkably warped understanding of the Constitution, Johnson helped Trump try to overturn the 2020 election. He still won’t say that Joe Biden won.
If you ask him about his political values, he says, “go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it — that’s my worldview. That’s what I believe and so I make no apologies for it.”
Let’s take him at his word, then, and hope for his sake his wardrobe contains no garments made of two kinds of thread, say, cotton and polyester, forbidden in Leviticus 19:19, or that any of his four children are ever “stubborn and rebellious,” because, if they are, Deuteronomy 21:18-21 says you may stone them.
And does he subscribe to other tenets of Good Book jurisprudence: stoning not just recalcitrant offspring, but offending oxen (Exodus 21:28) or selling a daughter into slavery (Exodus 21: 7-11)?
Taking a collection of metaphor-rich Bronze Age legends literally and formulating a political order derived from them seems like a lousy idea, rather like declaring someone the rightful king just because the Lady of the Lake hands him an heirloom weapon.
As the skeptical peasant says in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail:” “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.”
U.S. in trouble?
According to Johnson, the United States is in trouble. It’s not the climate crisis — we’re entering the End Times, so why not bring on planetary conflagration? Jesus doesn’t blame you for driving that Escalade.
The trouble isn’t racism, either, or inequality. Stop whining and get a job.
It’s not even our insane level of gun violence. Firearms are good; God wants us to have them; packing heat is what makes America exceptional.
Mass shootings don’t happen because anyone with a pulse and a credit card can get his shaky mitts on an AR-15. It’s a matter of “the human heart.”
The root cause, as Johnson told Fox’s Sean Hannity, is teaching evolution.
It’s Charles Darwin’s fault. Kids learn that they “evolve from the primordial slime” and the very thought of human life beginning not with two naked white people in a garden but bubbling in some kind of algal soup destroys the souls of our Youth.
Other countries’ Youth also learn about natural selection and fail to shoot up schools and bowling alleys, but they haven’t had the advantages of being raised in the Greatest Country God Ever Made.
No, the core calamity that has befallen America is that we no longer live by “18th Century values.”
Johnson’s long claimed that “the founders were divinely inspired” and created America “in accordance with biblical principles.”
Biblical principles like voting being restricted mainly to white men of property. Wives more or less being subject to their husbands. Black people belonging to white people.
Those 18th Century values allowed Thomas Jefferson to force himself on his teenaged slave Sally Hemings and get her pregnant, while George Washington’s ethical system allowed him to have an enslaved woman viciously whipped.
This is where we’re going, walking backwards into a future of hatred, theocracy, anti-intellectualism, science denialism, institutionalized misogyny, xenophobia, and second-class citizenship MAGA Republicans for anyone they deem “deviant.”
Back to the 18th Century.
This commentary was first published by the Florida Phoenix.
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