Editorial: Ray of hope, or more chaos?


Out of the chaos of the past three weeks, is Rep. Mike Johnson, the newly elected U.S. House Speaker, a ray of hope that the Republican-led House of Representatives can finally govern? 


Rep. Johnson, 51, is a social conservative, ardent Christian, who has strong views against abortion and gay rights. He’s that kind of conservative, meaning a religious idealogue. He also has been a solid Trump supporter, including in the effort to overturn President Biden’s electoral victory and supporting Trump despite his sordid and amoral affairs with women, blatant racism, an ignorance of Christianity and fake embrace of it. 

With that background, one might think Johnson is ill-informed and poorly educated. 

But he’s not. He graduated with a law degree from Louisiana State University and practiced constitutional law for 20 years. He was first elected to the state’s House of Representatives in 2015, then elected to Congress in 2016 and was elected to his fourth two-year term in 2022. He has won his district by large margins. He says he supports Israel and Ukraine’s fight to preserve their independence. He and his wife have been married for 24 years and have four children. He is described by colleagues as “principled” and “moral.”

It’s a description, and a record, that offers some hope.

It’s too bad that Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., withdrew his party’s nomination to the speakership before Democrats had the opportunity to work with him. He was more moderate and more reasonable, and the best of the candidates seeking the post so far, but that didn’t happen. Johnson is now the man of the hour. It will behoove Democrats in the House to work with him to the extent that budgets can be passed within the next two weeks to prevent a government shutdown and crucial aid can be approved to both Israel and Ukraine.

Of his election to speaker, New York Times reporter Annie Karni summed up Johnson’s unlikely rise to the top. Karni said Johnson, a little-known conservative, made his election look relatively easy “only because Republicans have been worn down over the past three weeks, rejecting three speaker designates, and have finally decided to rally around someone without a big profile, who they view as sufficiently conservative and who they don’t personally despise.”

That’s a low bar to pass and a sad commentary on the state of today’s GOP, but Democrats should give Johnson a good-faith opportunity to lead — and hope for a partner who is at least rational on that side of the aisle.

Angelo Lynn

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