Our New Speaker

Our New Speaker

Gregory Hood

Finally, the House of Representatives has a new speaker. Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana won with all Republican votes after three weeks of chaos. The relatively obscure former deputy whip is more conservative than former speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. Forbes called him a “hard-line conservative.” Other media quickly went to work telling Americans he is a threat to our way of life.

The group that has Salon upset is the Alliance Defending Freedom (then called the Alliance Defense Fund), a group that defends religious freedom and has won some significant court battles. Rep. Johnson worked for the group from 2002 to 2010. He is a strong social conservative, who used his own marriage as an example to promote Louisiana’s “covenant marriage” laws, which make divorce more difficult.

Rep. Johnson also supported the right of states to keep sodomy and other sexual crimes illegal. CNN is scandalized by this, saying that most Americans now support homosexuality. In 2004, Rep. Johnson made the so-called slippery slope argument against legalizing same-sex marriage, which, now that we have “trans youth” and 20 genders, sounds reasonable:

Society cannot give its stamp of approval to such a dangerous lifestyle [homosexuality]. 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 legal 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.

Mr. Johnson also argued that the state has a “compelling interest” in promoting marriage, which is certainly a stronger argument than the supposed “compelling interest” it has in promoting diversity. In 2005, he wrote that the court decision to cut life support for Terri Schiavo meant that the prevailing judicial philosophy was “no different from Hitler’s,” and that abortion is a “Holocaust.” Rep. Johnson also successfully sued to make Kentucky pay tourism subsidies to the Ark Encounter, a creationist museum that includes a reconstruction of Noah’s Ark.

All this will scandalize progressives. However, Mike Johnson’s views on race are far more orthodox.

In 2020, he said that the video of George Floyd’s death made it impossible for anyone to “objectively come to any other conclusion but that it was an act of murder.” He added that the “underlying issues” are something “that the country is now struggling with . . . . And I’m glad to see that’s happening.” In the same interview, he said that of his two sons — one white, one black — the white would have an easier time. “That’s a reality,” he said. “It’s an uncomfortable, painful one to acknowledge.”


His black “son” Michael, who is considerably older than his four biological children, appears to have been a foster child. He once used Michael’s opposition to reparations to explain why he opposes them.

In 2020, he called for “systematic change” and “transformative solutions” after the “murder” of George Floyd. He sounded like a leftist.


This may be embarrassing, but it doesn’t go very far by today’s standards. Rep. Johnson voted against the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, against the Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Act of 2019, and against an attempt to “condemn President Trump’s racist comments,” which included calling immigrants “invaders.” However, he did vote to condemn “white nationalism and white supremacy,” voted for the “Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act of 2022,” and the Juneteenth “National Independence Day” Act. He is no Steve King.

Rep. Johnson has consistently defended President Donald Trump. He signed an amicus brief challenging the election results. Challenging the results in a constitutional manner is obviously legal, but it has led to media calling him an “election denier.”

Still, conservatives aren’t being irrational when they claim victory. Rep. Johnson has an “A” rating on immigration from Numbers USA. Kevin McCarthy had an A-. Rep. McCarthy’s lifetime conservatism score from Heritage Action was 53 percent, and 78 percent in this session, both below that of the average Republican. Mike Johnson boasts an 84 percent rating in the current session and 89 percent lifetime. The American Conservative Union gives him a 91 percent rating in the current session, compared to Kevin McCarthy’s 82 percent.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (Credit Image: © Michael Brochstein/ZUMA Press Wire)
House Speaker Mike Johnson (Credit Image: © Michael Brochstein/ZUMA Press Wire)

These are marginal gains, but they can let Rep. Matt Gaetz claim that his coup against Kevin McCarthy achieved something. Despite early reports that Rep. Johnson was opposed to funding for Ukraine, he has already said he backs more aid. At best, we can hope for a stronger stand on border security and immigration. It’s not much, considering the political chaos the GOP inflicted on itself. Rep. Johnson’s election wasn’t a defeat, but it was no victory. We remain unrepresented.

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