Republican Senator Susan Collins was asked by a Fox journalist what she thought of the nomination of Mike Johnson for the new speaker of the House of Representatives. The senator said that he did not know him and that he would look for him on Google. Mike Johnson’s rise to become the third authority of the United States was so rapid and unexpected that his wife did not have time to catch a plane from Louisiana to arrive in time to see him take the speaker’s gavel for the first time .
Those who know him – or those who search on Google – know that Johnson, 51, is an ultra-conservative evangelical Christian, an anti-abortion activist, with radical positions against the rights of LGTBI, a defender of cuts to social benefits and a Trumpist. electoral denier. who led the legal efforts of a large group of Republican congressmen to annul the victory of Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential elections.
He was born in January 1972, in Shreveport, the third largest city in Louisiana. He is the eldest of four children, the son of a deputy fire chief who was injured and disabled in a fire when he was 12 years old. As a child, as he said in his first speech, he wanted to be “chief of the Shreveport Fire Department,” but he ended up studying law, becoming the first college graduate in his family. Before entering politics, he worked as a private lawyer and in the service of conservative organizations, where he supported the ban on same-sex marriage in his state and even defended laws criminalizing homosexuality. He advocated for a law to allow marriages where divorce would be more difficult and he himself married in the same formula in 1999. The Johnsons have two sons and two daughters, but they also got one a 14-year-old black boy who is now an adult.
He became president of the House partly by resignation and partly by exhaustion. Perhaps also because of what Congresswoman Elise Stefanik said when presenting her nomination, she has no enemies, even within her own party. It is enough to have five parliamentary colleagues against you to destroy your election, a requirement that the preferred group did not meet, starting with the ousted Kevin McCarthy and continuing with Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan and Tom Emmer, who won the internal votes before Johnson. The latter, polite, humble and respectful, managed to extinguish the fire of the republic after three weeks of chaos. He promises to find common ground with Democrats, but his ultra-conservative positions threaten to set American politics on fire.
In his first speech as speaker he attributed his election to a divine plan. “The Scriptures, the Bible, are very clear that God exalts those in authority,” he said. Stefanik described him recently as “a man of deep faith.” In January, when McCarthy’s election seemed stalled, he knelt down to pray with other Republican congressmen in the room to unblock the situation, as it happened the same day. “Mike Johnson is a staunch conservative, but most of all, he’s a staunch Christian. He’s not afraid to ask for guidance in his faith,” said Congressman Greg Steube, one of those who knelt with him. .Before his own election, Johnson tweeted a photo of a House inscription that read, “In God we trust.”
His evangelical faith guided his personal and political life. Recently elected, he gave an interview to the ultra-conservative Fox network where he said that to understand his political views it is enough to take the Bible off the shelf and read it. A few years later, in a speech in his native Louisiana, he argued that the ease of divorce, the “sexual revolution,” “radical feminism,” and abortion (which he described as a “holocaust ” or “killing the unborn. “) ) makes the United States “a completely amoral society.” And he linked school shootings to all of this: “How can a young man walk into his school and shoot his classmates? Because we’ve taught an entire generation or two of Americans that there is no right and wrong .”
Since 2022, he has a podcast on politics and religion with his wife: “Truth Be Told with Mike and Kelly Johnson.” It compiled 69 episodes in which both the “left” government of Biden and the “killing of children” (about abortion) were attacked. They’re getting into full-on culture battles against progressivism, they’re attacking trans people and companies that embrace diversity and equality, and they’re attacking Disney for “imposing a radical woke agenda ” and “open satanic programming” to its audience. And they describe Christianity as a persecuted religion. But he is not in favor of always turning the other cheek but fighting instead: “The kingdom of God allows aggression,” he said in one chapter. “There is a time for every purpose under heaven; There is a time for war. “There is a time when you have to get up and fight for the faith.”
Johnson represents a Louisiana district so conservative that Democrats didn’t even field a candidate in the last midterm election. He has been a congressman since January 2017. Never before has a person with such a short parliamentary career presided over the House of Representatives. He has no major allies on Capitol Hill and has vowed to “decentralize the power” given to him in his position. It’s too early to know what that means.