Election of Johnson as Speaker shows exactly who the GOP is and why you can’t vote for them

By Rich Heiland, Columnist, The Times

OCT. 25, 2023. A date that will live in infamy. Seriously.

Why? It was the date on which Rep. Michael Johnson, a Louisiana far-right little-known congressman, was elected unanimously by his U.S. House Republican colleagues to be Speaker of the House.

I am going to put it right up there will with the issuance of the Declaration of Independence, the adoption of the Constitution, the firing on Fort Sumpter, the entrance of the US into World War I, the Wall Street crash, Dec. 7, 1941, Nov. 22, 1963 and so on.

I know right now you are thinking “seriously, Rich.” Well, yes. Here’s why.

The unanimous selection of Johnson by 220 House Republicans made it official that the Republican Party is now a white Christian Nationalist, neo-Nazi domestic terrorist organization that seeks to upend Democracy. For years now, and certainly recently, there has been chatter about this but now, finally, it is a reality etched in stone.

Who and what, is Mike Johnson? Let’s allow his own words and actions to define him and how he views the United States. Spoiler alert. He views it as a Biblical Republic where Christians, mostly white male Christians, hold sway and control the lives of others in defiance of every definition of Democracy and the Constitution itself.

Let’s start the tour…a mess of stuff without any editorial commentary. That will come later.

On Democrats and environmentalists: “They’re not serving the people. They’re serving the planet…They have effectively replaced Father God with Mother Earth…They believe we owe fealty to Mother Earth. We are created by the Earth, they believe. So we must owe everything to the Earth itself.”

On religion and governance:

“I believe that Scripture, the Bible, is very clear: that God is the one who raises up those in authority,” Johnson said in his first speech after being elected speaker in a 220-209 vote. “He raised up each of you. All of us.”

“The Ark Encounter (a Christian theme park Johnson is big on) is one way to bring people to this recognition of the truth, that what we read in the Bible are actual historical events,” Johnson said in a 2021 interview with Ark Encounter founder Ken Ham while guest-hosting the radio show of Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, an evangelical activist group.

“Someone asked me today in the media, ‘People are curious, what does Mike Johnson think about any issue?’ I said, ‘Well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it. That’s my worldview.”

On Jan. 6: “They were legitimate protestors.” (Said of the terrorists who stormed the US Capitol.)

On Urkaine: “We should not be sending another $40 billion abroad when our own boarder is in chaos, American mothers are struggling to find baby formula, gas prices are at record highs and Americans families are struggling to make ends meeting.”

On the 2020 election:  I have just called President Trump to say this: ‘Stay Strong and keep fighting, sir! The Nation is depending on your resolve.’” Nov. 7, 2020.

“A lot of us know intuitively that there was a lot amiss about this election day. The fact that all these states with Democrat leaders changed the rules in the fourth quarter of the game….and the allegations of these voting machines, some of them being rigged, with the software by Dominion, there is a lot of merit in that. And when the president says the election was rigged, that’s what he’s talking about. The fix was in….”

On homosexuality: “Homosexual relationships are inherently unnatural and, the studies clearly show, are ultimately harmful and costly for everyone,” he wrote. “Society cannot give its stamp of approval to such a dangerous lifestyle. 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 equal 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.”

And….“homosexual marriage is the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic.”

And….”the Democrat Party and their cultural allies are on a misguided crusade to immerse young children in sexual imagery and radical gender ideology.”

On abortion:

“Many women use abortion as a form of birth control, you know, in certain segments of society, and it’s just shocking and sad, but this is where we are. When you break up the nuclear family, when you tell a generation of people that life has no value, no meaning, that it’s expendable, then you do wind up with school shooters.”

And this: “Think about the implications of that (abortion) on the economy. We’re all struggling here to cover the bases of social security and Medicare and Medicaid and all the rest. If we had all those able-bodied workers in the economy we wouldn’t be going upside down and toppling over like this… Roe was a terrible corruption.”

“Perform an abortion and get imprisoned for 1-10 years at hard labor and be fined $10,000 to $100,000.”

  1. GET THE picture? How are Republicans viewing this. The response from Florida Republican whack job Matt Gaetz (known to hang with sex traffickers) says it all: “If you don’t think that moving from Kevin McCarthy to MAGA Mike Johnson shows the ascendance of this movement and where the power in the Republican Party truly lies, then you’re not paying attention.”

So there it all is. What else do you need to know about today’s Republican Party to accept that it an anti-American, anti-Democracy, anti-Constitution extremist group existing to serve the ends of the uber wealthy and every bigoted group in the land? I am convinced. If all the above were not enough, how about Johnson and his mob after his election when asked very legitimate questions by Rachel Scott of ABC News?

“You helped lead the effort to overturn the 2020 election results, do you—” Scott started to ask before being shut down by a large group of the Republican House conference. Member standing with Johnson began booing, laughing at Scott and Rep. Virginia Foxx, an 80-year rep from North Carolina shouted “Shut up! Shut up!”

So what now?

I have a simple take. If you believe in this Nation’s potential, if you believe we really can over time correct a lot of wrongs from our past, continue to be a beacon of hope and freedom around the world; if you truly believe democracy is worth saving and that our best days are ahead You Freakin’ Cannot Vote for a Republican.

Let me repeat You Freakin’ Cannot Vote for a Republican. And I mean at any level. For example, go to the Facebook page of our county’s Republican Women and you will them hosting and gushing over Moms for Liberty and all its various splinter group that are trying to take over every school board in the county.

Locally the Republican Party is all in on Trump and his agenda. You can see it on social media, web sites and even in their candidates. That’s why even a vote cast for a Republican at the local level becomes a stake in the heart of our Democracy.

If you call yourself a Republican today but insist on saying “I am not like ‘them.’” Well sorry, but you are exactly like them. If you are an Independent who likes to think there are Republicans out there you can vote for, I’ll just say that in other times, I might have agreed with you. In these times, no sale. Vote for them and you are of them.

So, there you have it. That’s why I list Oct. 25, 2023 as possibly one of the most critical  and defining dates in the history of this country.

It’s time to stamp out this scourge, radiate this cancer out of the collective national body, and to do it peacefully using the most effective tool the Founders gave us – the vote.

It all starts with our local county offices, judicial seats and school board seats that come up Nov. 7, 2023. Vote. Tell others to vote. It’s not time to sit back, not time to play nice.

Rich Heiland, has been a reporter, editor, publisher/general manager at daily papers in Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and New Hampshire. He was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team at the Xenia Daily (OH) Daily Gazette, a National Newspaper Association Columnist of the Year, and a recipient of the Molly Ivins First Amendment Award from the Walker County (TX) Democrat Club. He taught journalism at Western Illinois University and leadership and community development at Woodbury College in Vermont.  Since 1995 he has operated an international consulting, public speaking and training business specializing in customer service, general management, leadership and staff development with major corporations, organizations, and government. Semi-retired, he lives with his wife in West Chester, PA. He can be reached at heilandrich1@gmail.com.



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