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Speaker Johnson: The MAGA World Rejoices

After multiple failed attempts to select a replacement for the recently ousted Kevin McCarthy, Republicans have settled on a compromise candidate. Yet, Mike Johnson is anything but. He is an ultra-conservative who has the overwhelming support of the Evangelical community. He is also an election denier who has been instrumental in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

So, who is the REAL Mike Johnson? Who is the man behind the curtain of little Congressional experience who is now second in line for the presidency?

One Nation (Under God?)

The phrase “under God” was not included in the original Pledge of Allegiance. It was added in 1954 during the Cold War in response to the Communist menace presented by the atheist Soviet Union. And, despite right-wing misinformation, it is still recited daily in public schools all over America. With the selection of Mike Johnson as Speaker of the House, the phrase threatens to take on added significance.

Johnson’s selection has Evangelicals cheering. His official Facebook page lists “Christian” as the first thing he uses to identify himself. With views on abortion and LBGTQ rights strictly aligned with Evangelicals, Johnson’s tenure as speaker threatens to steer Republicans closer to making America a theocracy, which is the exact opposite of what the Founding Fathers intended.

When asked to defend his views, he is known to respond with “Read your Bible” rather than citing any legal precedents. Of course, when he says this, he means that you should cherry-pick only those passages that support the limited point of view espoused by Evangelicals. Johnson is only too happy to push these verses to push his own religious agenda.

When it comes to education, Johnson wants to adopt a national “Don’t Say Gay” law that prohibits classroom teachers from even mentioning alternative lifestyles. He states this is against the teachings of the Bible.

Meanwhile, he is promoting a “Creationist museum” that features an ark that has dinosaurs alongside the green alligators and long-necked geese of the famous Shel Silverstein poem. He claims such an exhibit is “pointing people to the truth” which is a direct contradiction of scientific fact.

And, the MAGA World Rejoices

So, how will this influence his new role as speaker? Will he allow the Bible to dictate his decisions over obeying his sworn oath to defend the Constitution? If past is prologue that is exactly what he intends to do. He threatens to cite scripture over Constitutional amendments in his conduct of House affairs.

Johnson’s belief that America should be governed by the Bible first and the Constitution second is supported by other members of the MAGA wing of the Republican Party, of which Johnson is a proud member. He, along with fellow MAGAs, bolster the reactionary view that the downfall of the American family can be directly tied to the banning of prayer in the classroom. It resulted in the moral decay of our society by promoting acceptance of racial equality, refusing to force the LBGTQ population from living a lie, and allowing women autonomy over medical decisions involving their bodies.

Instead, Johnson and his allies want to maintain marijuana’s classification as a powerful drug like heroin and LSD, meaning possession would carry harsher penalties. These laws more adversely punish minorities, making it easier to issue longer prison sentences for minor crimes such as marijuana possession.

They want to force the LGBTQ+ population back into the closet by resurrecting (pun intended) the tired trope that being gay makes you a pedophile and those who support the gay lifestyle are groomers. When asked to defend his stance, Johnson snidely replied, “Go read your Bible”. This is further evidence that, if he were given the opportunity, he would turn the government into a Christian theocracy.

Johnson is a staunch anti-abortion advocate. Again, he cites scripture in his view while reducing the complicated physical and moral decisions a woman must make in deciding to terminate a pregnancy to the trite bumper sticker “Abortion is Murder” mantra. While he supported overturning Roe v Wade by making it an issue for the individual states to decide, he contradicts himself by demanding a national ban on abortion, even to the point of criminalizing the act and even imposing imprisonment for women who have one.

There is ample evidence for what a government that allows religious dogma to dictate policy would look like. The Taliban in Afghanistan and the ayatollahs in Iran are examples. Yet, this is the type of government Johnson and MAGAs are suggesting.

Do we truly need to be “One nation, under God”?

The Speaker of Denial

Upon taking the oath to become speaker, Johnson made the typical uninspired commitment to promote bipartisan cooperation. Given his track record of only supporting Christian values, it’s ironic that his head didn’t explode as those words left his mouth.

So, it’s not surprising that one of his first responses was to deny that guns were responsible for the deaths of 18 people in Maine this past week. Johnson echoed the right-wing mantra that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people”. (Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds.)

Although such a response should not come as a shock coming from someone who wants to deny a woman’s right to choose, deny same-sex couples equal protection under the law, and deny educators autonomy in their classrooms.

All of these denials pale in comparison to the biggest one of them all: denying that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. Johnson’s name is first on the amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court which aimed to dispute the results in four states that were won by Joe Biden. After his selection, a reporter attempted to ask him if he still denied the election results. Rather than allow Johnson to respond to the question, his fellow Republicans booed the reporter and one even repeatedly told them to shut up, leaving the question unanswered.

Johnson’s stance should provide some awkward moments when, in a few months, he will be seated behind President Biden as Biden gives his annual State of the Union speech. It’s the same seat where then Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously tore Donald Trump’s speech in half following his address. Johnson and his fellow Republicans demanded Pelosi be charged with a felony for destroying government property after the incident.

While Kevin McCarthy urged Republicans to exercise restraint during Biden’s speech, advice the Cruella deVille garbed Marjorie Taylor Greene ignored, there is no guarantee that Johnson will give similar guidance in the upcoming speech. That means Biden will likely be heckled again by the twin harpies Greene and her vile cohort, handsy Lauren Boebert.

But no Republican denial-fest would be complete without the ultimate disclaimer. So, of course, Johnson is in lockstep with his fellow GOP members in declaring that Donald Trump did nothing wrong despite facing 91 charges in four different indictments. They continue to support him as the Republican front runner despite the fact Trump has done little to appeal to anyone beyond his loyal base, which makes his attempt to reclaim the White House a difficult climb.

But stranger things have happened. Hillary Clinton was leading in the polls until James Comey announced he was re-opening the email investigation days before Election Day. And despite previous opposition to far right candidates for the speakership, moderate Republicans joined with the MAGA crowd to elect the man dubbed MAGA Mike.

Perhaps they were tired of being ridiculed. Perhaps they were being pressured by those who wanted to get aid to Israel following the attacks by Hamas. Or perhaps they believed Mike Johnson, who had been referred to as the shirt-sleeved Jim Jordan in a suit jacket, was the best compromise choice they could make while caving into the MAGA wing.

Whatever the reason, Republicans in the House are determined to undermine anything proposed by the Biden administration while they pursue revenge impeachment hearings instead of doing the job they were elected to do. In the unlikely event that Biden is somehow impeached, and even more improbable, removed from office via a Senate conviction, the next step would be to go after Vice President Harris, who, if removed, would open the door for Johnson to assume the Office of President.

Johnson has already made his first move to oppose President Biden by declaring the aid package Biden has proposed be bifurcated, with aid to Israel and further aid to Ukraine being separate bills instead of the package deal President Biden presented, which also includes the Republican demand for additional border security funds.

The future is uncertain and democracy hangs in the balance. Are we to remain the beacon of hope? Or will we devolve into anarchy as a Christian theocracy?

Only time will tell. Meanwhile, the MAGA world rejoices.

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