For anyone who predicted that Republicans could not possibly sink any lower in their tortuous efforts to elect a new speaker for their caucus, they now have their answer. Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson, who the New York Times describes as “low-profile,” “ultraconservative,” and a committed devotee of Donald Trump, is now the Republicans choice to preside over the legislative body responsible for (among other things) keeping the U.S. government functioning.
The timing of Johnson’s election should not be lost on the American public. Nominated one day after a single social media post from Trump effectively torpedoed the chances of Rep. Tom Emmer, one of a minority of House Republicans who did not vote to de-certify the 2020 election results, Johnson’s sudden elevation to the speakership represents a frank admission that dissent from Trump’s malign sway over the party will never be tolerated. Like former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy before him, Johnson joined the GOP’s efforts to nullify the election, voting along with 146 other Republican House members to de-certify it. What sets him apart from McCarthy, however, is that Johnson was one of that efforts’ most enthusiastic, active proponents.
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As reported by Luke Broadwater, Catie Edmondson and Kayla Guo, writing for the Times:
A social conservative, Mr. Johnson is a lawyer and the former chairman of the Republican Study Committee. He served on former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment defense team, played a leading role in recruiting House Republicans to sign a legal brief supporting a lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 election results and was an architect of Mr. Trump’s bid to object to certifying them in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.
Republicans’ acknowledgement of their total surrender to Trump was perhaps best illustrated by their response to an ABC News reporter’s question about Johnson’s record as supporting the GOP’s attempt to overturn the election. It was delivered with raucous, disdainful booing toward reporters and punctuated by North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx, as Republicans gathered on Tuesday to show their support for Johnson.
As the Times article notes, you could almost cut their contempt with a knife:
Pressed by reporters on Tuesday night about his efforts to overturn the election, Mr. Johnson smiled and shook his head, saying, “next question,” as Republicans beside him booed.
“Shut up! Shut up!” yelled Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, the chairwoman of the Education Committee.
The exchange was posted on X (formerly the platform known as Twitter):
In short, the GOP’s collective response toward anyone questioning their continued submission to Trump—or their commitment to free and fair elections in our democracy—is now to shut any discussion down altogether. They’ve made their choice, and they’ve communicated it in the starkest possible terms. And if Americans don’t like it, well they can just “Shut up.”
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