Last night House Republicans nominated far right extremist backbencher Mike Johnson for Speaker of the House. It was unanimous, but there were 22 House Republicans curiously missing from the meeting. But they came around today, and Johnson has been elected Speaker.
This is already setting off widespread doomsday hysteria on social media about how “Speaker Johnson” means we’re all doomed. But this is coming from the same people who three weeks ago tried to tell us that Donald Trump would be the Speaker of the House and we were all doomed. And as recently as yesterday, these types were insisting that Republicans’ plan was to leave the speakership vacant through November so the government would shut down. But it’s now obvious this was not their plan, given that they just filled the speakership.
So let’s discount every bit of hyperbolic doomsday hysteria coming from these types today. They can’t just go from “We’re doomed because there isn’t going to be a Speaker” to “We’re doomed because there’s going to be a Speaker” and expect anyone to take them seriously. These types on our side just want to feel panicked fear at all times, and the stuff they’re saying has no connection to reality.
Back in the real world, Mike Johnson’s arrival a Speaker is not a good thing. It’s just not a bad thing either. As I’ve said all along, House Republicans were likely to fall in line behind someone once they realized that the House Republicans in toss-up districts were prepared to hand the speakership to the Democrats just to preserve their own personal reelection prospects in their own moderate districts. We were coming up against that scenario, and everyone knew it, so Republicans went with the last candidate standing on their side.
What’s interesting is that the House Republicans in those toss-up districts ultimately decided to vote for a far right extremist like Mike Johnson. This means it’s nearly a given that they managed to get a binding agreement from him as far as what he won’t do. He probably agreed not to do a shutdown and other things. But we’re not going to find out what those concessions are until later, when we see the House end up not doing those things.
In the meantime, House Republicans have chosen someone for Speaker who is both an extremist and inexperienced. The extremism will work against him right out of the gate. He’s on record as opposing women’s rights, gay rights, you name it. He’s a huge election denier. And while he’s too low profile to have any current scandals, just give it a minute. Far right extremist clowns like Johnson always have a bunch of corruption scandals and/or personal scandals in their closet. Always. Johnson’s scandals will now be dug up. And we’ll use his scandals to distract and derail his planned agenda.
It’s also important to remember that this guy was chosen as a compromise candidate precisely because he’s a nobody with no power or influence. If people with years of House leadership experience like Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan couldn’t corral this House Republican caucus of idiots, then someone as powerless as Mike Johnson isn’t going to be able to do it either. Republicans will be united behind him for five minutes and then they’ll go right back into their bickering fiefdoms and personal agendas.
Remember, we do not defeat someone like Mike Johnson by assigning him magical powers. All that kind of talk does is hand him leverage, which gives him power that he wouldn’t otherwise have. In reality Johnson is a weakling who now has a very tentative grasp over a very unmanageable caucus. He’s not going to magically pull off a government shutdown, with so many of his members clearly not wanting one. And he’s not going to be able to magically overturn the 2024 election, no matter how loudly and hyperbolically the doomsday hysteria addicts on our side keep yelling that he can somehow magically do this.
One of the biggest dangers at a time like this is the sheer number of people on our side who are so clinically addicted to feeling panicked fear, they’re now going to shout doomsday hysteria about Johnson at the top of their lungs, even as the rest of us try to use effective messaging to derail Johnson. We have to think of these doomsday hysteria types on our side as our enemies, because they are. They’re perfectly willing to declare defeat, and eager to convince the rest of us to give up, just so they can feel the negative things that their broken brains want them to feel.
But as for those of us who are involved in politics because we want to fight and win, “Speaker Mike Johnson” is both a challenge and an opportunity for us. This is a guy who will spew a lot of bluster but can’t really do much of anything about it. And his track record of extremism will hand us a gift in terms of winning those toss-up House races in 2024. The countdown to Speaker Hakeem Jeffries starts today. Now let’s go win the House majority.