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Who is Speaker Mike Johnson?

Published in Blog on October 31, 2023 by Jakob Fay

Less than 24 hours prior, virtually no one knew his name. Now, the whole country was talking about him, scrambling to learn more about this unsung representative from Louisiana. After the GOP had passed over multiple better-known candidates during three contentious weeks of voting, surely he wouldn’t be the one.

Right?

Congressman Mike Johnson, now 56th speaker of the House, announced his bid for the coveted position on Saturday, October 21. “I’m in,” he tweeted simply, accompanied by a press release.

“At this critical juncture,” the document stated, “our House Republican Majority must provide principled leadership. It is our duty to chart a new path, and answer with clarity and conviction who we are, why we are here, and what we are fighting for. As Scripture reminds us, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Prov. 29:18).”

Quoting Scripture, the nation would soon discover, is a matter of course for Johnson.

Wednesday morning, Convention of States (COS) broke the story that this new contender for second in line to the president was an avid Convention of States supporter, having voted for our resolution as a state representative in 2016. He also held a congressional subcommittee hearing about Article V in September. Just the same, it remained doubtful whether Johnson, still largely unknown, could unify the party—something Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, and Tom Emmer failed to do before him.

But one thing was clear: after more than three weeks of chaos and frenzy, the speakerless House was ready for a leader. That, and the American people demanded one.

SEE ALSO: Is Washington the solution... or a sitcom?

Shortly before the first vote with the Louisiana representative on the ballot, Johnson posted, without a caption, a prophetic picture of the words engraved above the speakers' dias: In God We Trust. His wife, he later told his colleagues, had been praying about this moment since former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s ouster 22 days prior. Praying—and waiting for the right time.

As of October 25, it seemed the right time—God’s perfect time, he believed—had finally come. Congressman Mike Johnson was elected unanimously by his party with 220 votes to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ 208. It was a stunning victory, one that left the nation questioning: Who is Mike Johnson?

Luckily, he would answer that question for himself.

“I don’t believe there are any coincidences in a manner like this,” he expressed before being sworn in. “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 in this time. This is my belief. I believe that each one of us has a huge responsibility today to use the gifts that God has given us to serve the extraordinary people of this great country, and they deserve it, and to ensure that our Republic remains standing as the great beacon of light and hope and freedom in a world that desperately needs it.”

It was merely a single moment of patriotic fervor in a deeply patriotic speech, during which Johnson evoked religious imagery, cheered the Founders, and spurned entrenched D.C. interests (which, of course, was not a bug but rather a feature). He said things like America is “the freest, most powerful, most successful nation in the history of the world” and “the greatest threat to our national security is our nation’s debt,” lines that easily could have been borrowed from any Tea Party Patriots meeting.

So, now we knew—Mike Johnson was a Bible-believing, Jesus-praising, Chesterton-quoting, Lincoln-loving, pro-Israel, spending-slashing, anti-centralized government, Reagan conservative.

In other words, the media declared, Mike Johnson was a “Christian nationalist.”

And no, they were not shy in blazoning that verdict.

“Mike Johnson’s Christian nationalist track record isn’t a mystery — it’s a tragedy,” mourned MSNBC. “Rep. Mike Johnson, the newly elected speaker of the House, is the most unabashedly Christian nationalist speaker in history.” Politico agreed: Johnson’s speech was a sign that the new speaker “adheres to a worldview that can be described as Christian nationalist.” Time Magazine, Mother Jones, Newsweek, and Rolling Stones all concurred with equally derisive headlines.

But that is not all that sets Johnson apart from—and against—the Washington-media conglomerate. In addition to spewing Christian lingo—a dangerous threat to democracy, according to the speaker’s newfound enemies in the media—this nationalist maven has also been known to recite George Mason, the firebrand Founding Father who hated and waged unrelenting war against consolidated, federal power. 

This, of course, is also problematic—again, from the perspective of Washington’s political old guard.

Exactly 236 years ago, Col. Mason introduced into the Constitution a little-known provision enabling the states, under Article V, to call a convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution. According to James Madison, Mason feared that “no amendments of the proper kind would ever be obtained by the people, if the Government should become oppressive, as he verily believed would be the case.”

In other words, if the federal government ever seized too much power—as Mason, no doubt, would determine ours has—it could not be trusted to relinquish that power willingly. Therefore, in Mason’s mind, and that of his future admirer, Johnson, the states ought to be able to rectify that abuse of power via constitutional amendments. The Founders consented to Mason’s proposal unanimously; George Washington later spoke favorably of it, urging the American people to employ Mason’s government-altering clause whenever “the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong.”

And more than two centuries later, Washington’s advice yet unheeded, the House of Representatives elected a speaker who concurred with Mason, too.

The story of Johnson’s rise to power, ironically, involves multiple occasions of the state lawmaker-turned-congressman-turned-speaker railing against the size and scope of the modern federal leviathan. And upon being elected to the third highest office in the land, he quickly reiterated his position on the topic: “[T]his speaker’s office is going to be known for decentralizing… power,” he vowed.

“I think he’s the very best possible person for the position,” expressed Convention of States Co-Founder Michael Farris, a fellow, hated-by-the media, Christian ‘nationalist.’ “There is no one better for the job. I am absolutely thrilled.”

According to Farris, the then-state representative was “instrumental” in championing the Convention of States resolution, which passed through Johnson’s home state in 2016. 

“[The Founders] had the wisdom to put a safeguard in the Constitution,” he noted on the floor of the Louisiana legislature. “They said, ‘Look, we want the power to be reserved to the people… [and] the only way to ensure that is to have this safeguard in the Constitution that the states have the final say.’”

The states… notably not Congress.

But when Johnson was elected to Congress in 2017, he brought those same pro-George Mason, pro-Convention of States, pro-state convictions with him—he brought them with him and forced them on his colleagues.

“We have to acknowledge that the federal government is way too big, and it does way too many things,” he sounded off from inside the federal government. These remarks came during his recent congressional subcommittee hearing on Article V, in which he also flaunted his support for imposing term limits on Congress (much to the chagrin of his hearers, one can imagine).

“The administrative state has grown exponentially,” he added. “That consolidation of power has become really very dangerous. It's created an administrative state that is out of control.”

These radically anti-Washington sentiments paint a picture of Mike Johnson as a fervent advocate against the D.C. establishment, a hand grenade within the corridors of power. They also expose why the media hate—and indeed fear—him.

"It’s not just his political ideology that should scare us,” explained the former White House press secretary, Jen Psaki; “Johnson is basically a Christian fundamentalist."

They hate him, in other words, because he believes in God; because he believes in the Constitution; and because he believes that the government is not god. And therein lies the answer to our question—“Who is Mike Johnson?” Sen. Rick Santorum, Convention of States Senior Advisor, perhaps summed it up best: “He’s unlike the Swamp.”

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What is less known is that the Founders gave state legislatures the power to act as a final check on abuses of power by Washington, DC. Article V of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the state legislatures to call a convention to proposing needed amendments to the Constitution. This process does not require the consent of the federal government in Washington DC.

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