Johnson Represents A Strain Of An Anti-Democracy Virus That Has Infected The GOP
As soon as the votes were counted— 100% unanimity from the Republicans (not a single dissenter)— Axios reported that the Democrats were already defining Johnson for voters who had never heard of him before. Not just a MAGAt activist, he’s also a former Hate Talk Radio host, so it should have been obvious to mainstream conservative Republicans who backed him that it was not going to be difficult to paint a picture that revolts swing voters, swing voters desperately needed by— for example— Tom Kean (NJ), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR), Ken Calvert (CA), Mike Lawler (NY), John James (MI), Nick LaLota (NY), Michelle Steel (CA), Mike Garcia (CA), Marc Molinaro (NY), Herb Jones (VA), Young Kim (CA), Zach Nunn (IA)… and a couple dozen other GOP incumbents who were foolish enough to attach themselves to Johnson and his extremely anti-mainstream record.
This morning, the top progressive challenger in the whole state of New Jersey— up against Tom Kean (who was elected last year with a margin of 2.8 points in a district Biden won)— Sue Altman, told me that “NJ7 is full of people who want to see government protect American rights. Electing a speaker who is against same sex marriage betrays the basic rights and values of the sensible, smart people of New Jersey. This has been settled law here for a long time and no one’s going back. We’d like to see Kean Jr explain to the LGBT community why their rights don’t matter.”
Oregon phony Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who didn’t hesitate to vote with all the rest of the GOP sheep, was already starting to have second thoughts this morning, making some kind of noises about standing up against Johnson’s extremism— the guy she had just voted into the position. “We have to speak up,” she told Punchbowl. “We’re a strong voice as majority makers. Now’s the time to express it with a new speaker.”
Mondaine Jones, who is running against fake-“moderate” Mike Lawler, took a very similar tact in an e-mail he sent out to his swing district voters. (Lawler beat a corrupt Democrat last year by less than 2,000 votes and less than a point— and in a district Biden won by over 10 points.) “Mike Lawler just voted for Mike Johnson: the election denier who was an architect of House Republican efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the author of a federal ‘Don’t Say Gay Law,’ wrote Jones. “Rep. Johnson is an extremist who supports a national abortion ban and an out-of-touch representative who wants to cut Social Security and Medicare. This vote makes clear that while Lawler likes to masquerade as a moderate, he is a reliable vote for the extreme MAGA Republicans. Lawler’s vote for Johnson does not represent the values of the Lower Hudson Valley, and I am determined to oust him from Congress next November and give New Yorkers the representation they deserve. It’s time to end Republican chaos in Washington and get back to work to lower costs for Lower Hudson Valley residents, protect Social Security and Medicare, stop Republicans from banning abortion, and get assault weapons off our streets.”
Expect Democrats to hammer on his background and his record, a record that shows that he
• Voted AGAINST the Violence Against Women Act
• Voted AGAINST the Women's Health Protection Act
• Voted AGAINST bipartisan legislation to codify same-sex marriage
• Authored the federal Don't Say Gay legislation
• Co-sponsored legislation that would make it a felony for providers to perform gender affirming care
• Architect of House GOP's efforts to overturn the 2020 election
Republicans aren’t running away from these positions— but in swing districts they tend to soft-pedal them. CNN reported that Johnson, who called Social Security a "ponzi scheme," actively worked to criminalize gay sex. Outside of the most backward, rural areas, there aren’t many parts of America where that position is popular.
CNN: “In editorials that ran in his local Shreveport, Louisiana, paper, The Times, Johnson called homosexuality a ‘inherently unnatural’ and ‘dangerous lifestyle’ that would lead to legalized pedophilia and possibly even destroy ‘the entire democratic system.’ And, in another editorial, he wrote, ‘Your race, creed, and sex are what you are, while homosexuality and cross-dressing are things you do,’ he wrote. ‘This is a free country, but we don’t give special protections for every person’s bizarre choices.’ At the time, Johnson was an attorney and spokesman for Alliance Defense Fund, known today as Alliance Defending Freedom, where he also authored his opposition to the Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas— which overturned state laws that criminalized homosexual activity between consenting adults. ADF wrote an amicus brief in the case which supported maintaining criminalization. ‘States have many legitimate grounds to proscribe same-sex deviate sexual intercourse,’ Johnson wrote in a July 2003 op-ed, calling it a public health concern. ‘By closing these bedroom doors, they have opened a Pandora’s box,’ he added.” The Republicans just elected a narrow-minded hate-monger to be speaker.
In the mid-2000s, Johnson’s anti-gay rhetoric was harsh. In September 2004, Johnson wrote in support of a Louisiana amendment banning same-sex marriage saying it could lead to people marrying their pets.
“Homosexual relationships are inherently unnatural and, the studies clearly show, are ultimately harmful and costly for everyone,” he wrote. “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 added that allowing same-sex marriage could be the downfall of the democratic system.
“The state and its citizens have a compelling interest in preserving the integrity of the marital union by making opposite-sex marriage the exclusive form of family relationship endorsed by the government,” he wrote. “Loss of this status will de-emphasize the importance of traditional marriage to society, weaken it, and place our entire democratic system in jeopardy by eroding its foundation.”
Like Robert Card, the mass murderer in Lewiston, Maine yesterday, Johnson claims he hears voices and that God ordained his election as Speaker. Now that is scary... especially for someone with his crackpot ideas.
Dan Pfeifer noted that “Choosing someone who is the perfect avatar of MAGA extremism as the face of House Republicans trying to hold onto one of the narrowest majorities in history is certainly an odd decision, and Democrats should make sure Republicans pay a steep political price by picking a series of fights with Johnson and the MAGA House… Here’s who he is: Paul Ryan’s economic policies + Mike Pence’s views on abortion + Donald Trump’s dangerously wacky views on the 2020 election = Mike Johnson. In other words, if Democrats could design in a lab the perfect candidate to run against, that person would look a lot like Mike Johnson.”
Congressional Progressive Caucus VP, Riverside, California Congressman Mark Takano didn’t need to be told. He was one of the first to send out an e-mail blasting the Republicans for elevating someone as extreme and radical as Johnson. “After three weeks of complete chaos and inaction that ground Congress to a halt,” he wrote, “the House Republican Conference has allowed their extreme MAGA members to set the agenda and hand select Mike Johnson as the next Speaker of the House. Mike Johnson is a proud and fervent election denier, a friend of the extreme religious right, and a climate change denier. He has voted twice against the PACT Act to deny toxin-exposed veterans of the healthcare they have earned. He has fiercely advocated against the civil liberties of LGBTQ+ people. Mike Johnson has weaponized his committee position to target transgender individuals and introduce legislation to suppress sharing LGBTQ+ identities. He is staunchly anti-choice and would like to impose a nationwide ban on reproductive choice. He will no doubt remain committed to those divisive values and bring untold harm to the American people now that he has been elevated to Speaker. Befitting a party that treats expertise with disdain and considers extremism a virtue, Mike Johnson will take up the Speaker’s gavel having never led a House Committee or served in a senior leadership position. He comes to the job with no understanding of its purpose and no respect for its importance. Rather than using the position he has been given to unify, Mike Johnson will use his power to divide our people and diminish our nation.”
AOC was on the same page, telling her constituents in Queens and the Bronx that “Johnson co-sponsored the last three bills in the House that would outlaw abortion nationwide and he helped lead the strategy to overturn the 2020 election. Johnson is a lackey for Trump. The Congresswoman from Boston, Ayanna Pressley also noted that Johnson “is absolutely unfit to serve as Speaker. Here’s what you need to know about him:
He voted against certifying the 2020 election, conspiring closely with the former occupant of the White House to overturn the results;
He’s one of the most egregious anti-abortion extremists in Congress. He supported and co-sponsored some of the worst national abortion bans and has advocated for imprisoning doctors for doing their jobs and providing life-saving abortion care;
He voted against legislation to codify same-sex marriage and wrote bills that are outright attacks on our LGBTQ+ siblings, including the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would bar schools from providing sex education or books that include LGBTQ subjects;
He proposed slashing Medicare and Social Security funding to end these essential programs as we know it.
Mike Johnson’s presence in Congress is a threat to our democracy, and the consequences of him wielding the Speaker’s gavel will be dire. He is both ineffective and harmful— the worst kind of paradox— and he will only perpetuate and accelerate the cruelty, chaos, and confusion we have seen under this Republican majority.”
Here's one person who was really happy about Johnson's selection: