Yesterday, I titled my post “Yes!” Today–after the election of a new House Speaker–I can only retreat into “No!”
After nearly four weeks of total dysfunction, the House GOP elected a Speaker candidate–essentially, Jim Jordan without the public buffoonery and scandal baggage. According to the Washington Post, here are five things to know about this previously undistinguished culture-war Representative from deep-Red Louisiana.
First–and least surprising, although deeply troubling– he’s an election denier.He opposed certifying the 2020 election and urged Trump to “stay strong and keep fighting” as Trump tried to overturn his loss in the presidential race. He tweeted out a message urging Trump to fight the results, adding “We must exhaust every available legal remedy to restore Americans’ trust in the fairness of our election system.”
Johnson also objected to certifying Biden’s electoral win and was one of the architects of a legal attack on the election that consisted of arguing that states’ voting accommodations during the pandemic were unconstitutional. He led a group of 126 Republican lawmakers in filing an amicus brief to the Supreme Court alleging that authorities in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan had “usurped” the constitutional authority of state legislatures when they loosened voting restrictions because of the pandemic. The court rejected the underlying complaint — filed by the state of Texas — citing a lack of standing, and dismissed all other related motions, including the amicus brief.
Second, and extremely concerning, he was one of 57 lawmakers — all of them Republicans — who voted against a $39.8 billion aid package for Ukraine in May. Although a majority of GOP Representatives support aid to Ukraine, Johnson is not among them.
Third–and probably least surprising–Johnson, “a constitutional lawyer who identifies as a Christian,” opposes abortion. He actively celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, has insisted (via Twitter) that rights are not protected by government but “given by God,” and those God-given rights don’t include reproductive autonomy for women. He supports an absolute national ban on abortions.
The antiabortion nonprofit Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America gives Johnson an A+ ranking on this issue, stating that he “has voted consistently to defend the lives of the unborn and infants,” including by “stopping hard-earned tax dollars from paying for abortion, whether domestically or internationally.”
Fourth, his election cements the takeover of the GOP by Trumpers–as if there was any doubt.
He served on Trump’s legal defense team during his two impeachment trials in the Senate. He has called charges against Trump — which include a federal case relating to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election — “bogus,” and has said the legal and political systems have treated Trump unfairly.
Fifth, Johnson displays the anti-LGBTQ bigotry we’ve come to expect from the GOP’s pseudo-“Christian” culture warriors. He continues to oppose same-sex marriage, for example.
Johnson has positioned himself on the far right of the political spectrum on several social issues, even within the current conservative Republican conference. Notably, he introduced legislation last year — modeled after Florida’s “don’t say gay” bill — that would have prohibited discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as related subjects, at any institution that received federal funds. The Human Rights Campaign, a pro-LGBTQ civil rights organization, gave Johnson a score of 0 in its latest congressional scorecard.
Johnson also opposes gender-affirming care for minors and led a hearing on the subject in July. In a statement, he described gender-affirming care — meaning medical care that affirms or recognizes the gender identity of the person receiving the care, and which can include giving puberty or hormone blockers to minors under close monitoring from a doctor — as “adults inflicting harm on helpless children to affirm their world view.”
Health-care professionals, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, disagree, but Johnson and his ilk dismiss expertise of all kinds in favor of listening to the God they have created in their own image…
So here we are, fellow Americans.
I’d rate the likelihood that Congress will now begin attending to business somewhere between zero and minus-one on a ten-point scale; at best, we will be treated to a more regularized performance of hari-kari.
If the extreme public meltdown of one of the nation’s political parties was taking place at a less-fraught time, I might actually find watching it enjoyable. But with two wars raging and a government shutdown looming, it’s agonizing to watch ideologues and intellectually-vacuous incompetents take the helm of the ship of state.
Johnson is a good fit for a political party that has been reduced to trading on ignorance, hate and fear. He’s a disaster-in-the-making for a country that needs to return to its constitutional and philosophical roots.