New Speaker Mike Johnson Wants Women to Pop Out ‘Able-Bodied Workers,’ Blames School Shootings on Abortion
House Republicans spent the last three weeks debasing themselves to find a new Speaker. They've chosen an election-denying anti-abortion extremist.Politics
Dear reader, with a heavy heart, I regret to introduce you to our new House Speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.). After three long weeks of House Republicans debasing themselves (and specifically debasing former Speaker nominees Steve Scalise (R-La.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Tom Emmer (R-Minn.)) to find a new Speaker, the caucus went with Johnson late Tuesday night, and voted him into the position Wednesday afternoon after a single ballot.
Where previous nominees flailed around, caucus support for Johnson was resounding. Scalise and Jordan were both Speaker nominees for a number of odd days before it became clear there was no path forward; Jordan saw massive rifts form in his relationships with a handful of his caucus after they received a slew of death and other threats in his name. Emmer was the nominee for just over the run-time of Avengers: Endgame. But when Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) nominated Johnson on the House floor, caucus members reportedly cheered and chanted, “Mike! Mike! Mike!”
Shortly after Johnson’s confirmation, on Thursday New York Magazine’s Irin Carmon resurfaced an old interview between her and Johnson from 2015 when he served in Louisiana’s state House and was working to dismantle abortion access. At the time, Carmon writes that Johnson, who expressed hope that Roe v. Wade would someday be overturned, railed against people supposedly “using abortion as birth control” and appeared to blame school shootings on abortion: “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.” Republicans have often launched into the refrain that endemic shootings in the U.S. are to be blamed on the erosion of “family values” rather than lax gun laws—by directly blaming school shootings on abortion, Johnson took this line of thinking to a new, horrific extreme.
Despite his almost zero name recognition, Johnson is, indeed, pretty terrifying. It shouldn’t be lost on us that Emmer lost the Speakership largely because too many Freedom Caucus members deplored his vote for same-sex marriage. By contrast, Johnson is an anti-LGBTQ hardliner who introduced the federal version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill to prohibit references to queer identity in schools last year. In an unsubtle swipe at Johnson’s record, Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), who’s openly gay, said “Happy anniversary to my wife” as she cast her vote for Speaker for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Twitter called Johnson “an extremist.” Tellingly, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) celebrated Johnson’s nomination, claiming the switch from McCarthy to Johnson “shows the ascendance of this movement.”
Johnson supports a national abortion ban, played a key role in trying to overturn the 2020 election, and formerly worked as an attorney for ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom), the far-right legal group that’s spent the last year trying to end FDA approval of abortion pills. And I’d argue Johnson’s far-right removal from reality is best encapsulated by this resurfaced clip of him speaking at a House Judiciary meeting shortly after Roe was overturned that’s been making the rounds.
In his remarks, not only does Johnson claim Roe “gave constitutional cover to the elective killing of unborn children,” but he rails against the imagined economic detriments of abortion, pushing his caucus’ outlandish claim that by depleting a hypothetical workforce, abortion has defunded social security: “Think about the implications of that on the economy. We’re all struggling here to cover the bases of social security and Medicare and Medicaid and all the rest,” Johnson says. “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.” Mind you, social security and health care have been gutted in the last several years by Republican lawmakers, not people who choose to end a pregnancy.
Alas, this is the man who will be presiding over the House moving forward as the threat of another government shutdown looms. This is the man who will be relied on to forge the bipartisan agreements necessary to pass a budget and keep the wheels of our government in motion. You’ll have to excuse me if I’m not feeling overly optimistic about things right now.