Who is Mike Johnson?
Just two days ago he was a little-known representative from the state of Louisiana. Today, he’s in one of the most powerful positions in government: Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The controversial and not-so-anonymous representative, Matt Gaetz, triggered the hunt for a new speaker in early October saying, “”Kevin McCarthy is a feature of the swamp. He has risen to power by collecting special interest money and redistributing that money in exchange for favors. We are breaking the fever now, and we should elect a speaker who’s better.”
The first choice of conservatives was Jim Jordan, whom “The New Yorker” described rather eloquently as “…a political hit man, a launcher of partisan inquisitions. In a conference of cynics, he had distinguished himself as a true believer…” Most notably, Jordan is the face behind the House’s investigations of the Biden family. This has made him a favorite of the conservative base. The image of Rep. Jordan with his shirt sleeves rolled up, peering over his glasses likely haunts the dreams of many a subpoenaed bureaucrat.
But with this reputation, Jordan was unable to secure the votes needed to cinch the speakership – RINOs are native to the DC swamp.
So, it seems as if Mike Johnson’s previous relative anonymity was one of the keys to his new position. In spite of his lack of name recognition at the national level, Johnson has not been on the sidelines and his actions seem to indicate a lack of “swamp creature” characteristics. Johnathan Blitzer writes: “Hours before Johnson won the vote on the House floor, on Wednesday afternoon, without a single Republican defection, I asked a former senior G.O.P. aide how moderate members could justify voting against Jordan but for Johnson. Their politics are nearly indistinguishable; Johnson, who sits on Jordan’s Judiciary Committee, once compared their relationship to being ‘like Batman and Robin.’ The aide replied, ‘Have you ever heard of Mike Johnson?’”
In an opinion piece for the Washington Times, associate editor Ruth Marcus writes, “The new speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), might be more dangerous than the firebrand Ohio Republican. For Jordan’s shirt sleeves demeanor and wrestler’s pugnacity, substitute a bespectacled, low-key presentation, a law degree and an unswerving commitment to conservative dogma and former president Donald Trump.”
In fact, it was Johnson who, after the 2020 election, rallied over 100 House Republicans to sign an amicus brief supporting a Texas lawsuit which sought to invalidate states’ elections which had ignored voting law under cover of Covid-19 precautions: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
In a congratulatory video announcement, Trump appeared to take credit for Mike Johnson’s speakership, saying: “At this time yesterday nobody was thinking of Mike, and then we put out the word and now he’s the Speaker of the House. So, I want to thank all of the supporters that I have and I want to thank all of the supporters that Mike has and he’ll be a great Speaker; I think you’ll be very proud of him.”
Johnson himself, on the other hand, attributed his new position to Someone Else in the moments after his victory: ““I don’t believe there are any coincidences in a matter like this. I believe that Scripture, the Bible is very clear that God is the One that raises up those in authority. He raised up each of you, all of us. And I believe that God has ordained and allowed each one of us to be brought here for this specific moment and this time…”
Prior to becoming a representative for Louisiana, Johnson was a lawyer partnered with the Alliance Defending Freedom. He’s a Southern Baptist who served for a time as a trustee on the convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission while well-loved conservative Richard Land presided over it, stepping down before Russell Moore, who emphasized liberal ideas of “social justice,” became president in 2013.
In 2014, Johnson helped represent Answers in Genesis as they pursued tax incentives in exchange for the tourism attraction and employment opportunities provided by their then soon-to-be-built Ark Encounter.
Lisa Friedman at the New York Times heaps praise upon him: “Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, the newly elected House speaker, has questioned climate science, opposed clean energy and received more campaign contributions from oil and gas companies than from any other industry last year.”
And Mr. Blitzer at the New Yorker can only add to it: “Johnson is the most conservative Speaker in recent memory, perhaps ever. Last year, for instance, Johnson introduced a bill to prohibit discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity at any institution that receives federal funds. After the Supreme Court repealed Roe v. Wade, Johnson called it ‘an historic and joyful day.’ He has also said that the landmark abortion case ‘gave constitutional cover to the elective killing of unborn children in America, period.’ In a move sure to cause friction with some Republicans, he’s also voted to block further funding for Ukraine.”
I suppose they might not have been trying to praise him, but they couldn’t do much better if they were.
In his acceptance speech, Johnson said one of the first things he would do as Speaker is to approve funding for Israel in the aftermath of Hamas’ bloody slaughter of Israelis – a package which has been held up with all other legislation due to lack of House leadership.
As conservative and liberal internet sleuths alike have begun to pour over Johnson’s record and share bits and pieces on Twitter (or X, as it now identifies), there are only a few which have hinted at issues which might cause some on the right concern. In the immediate aftermath of the death of George Floyd, he called it a murder and called for systemic change – a still-developing buzzword for BLM at the time. He also said that of his two 14-year-old sons, the adopted one, who is black, would have more struggles in life because of his ethnicity.
However, he said this days after the Floyd story broke and well before the public knew the whole story, and particularly well before the coroner’s report was released which revealed that Floyd’s death was caused by an overdose.
He also was a key player in shutting down an abortion abolition bill during his time in the Louisiana State House of Representatives. This bill would have abolished abortion, granted constitutional rights to the unborn, and classified abortion as homicide. Johnson has supported less potent pro-life legislation, however, and has an A+ rating from Susan B Anthony (SBA) Pro-Life America.
Only time will tell whether Mike Johnson is susceptible to the seemingly inevitable corruption of the halls of power in Washington DC. We ought to pray for him, that he would keep his feet planted on the solid ground of God’s Word in the squishy, DC swamp.
In fact we can pray with our friend Patrick Colbeck, who posted this prayer to Twitter (X, whatever) “Congratulations Speaker Mike Johnson! May God bless you with His wisdom and strength to do what is right during this pivotal time in our nation’s history!”
You know, Colbeck wrote a book about navigating the DC swamp; he called it “Wrestling Gators.” Who better to wrestle gators than a man from Louisiana?