By Alan I., Red Phoenix correspondent, Ohio.
After nearly a month of infighting, the Republicans in the House of Representatives finally elected a new speaker, diehard Christian fundamentalist Mike Johnson. The fiasco surrounding the election of this individual represents not only a profound dysfunction at the top of capitalist government, but also yet another GOP surrender to reactionary “MAGA” forces. The previous speaker, Kevin McCarthy, was ousted on October 3 after fellow Donald Trump-aligned members accused him of being too soft with Democrats. The former speaker had, facing the threat of a government shutdown on October 1, orchestrated the passing of a stopgap bill which funded the government through November 17. This greatly angered his far-right colleagues who regularly use the debt ceiling negotiations to strip more away from the working class in a religious devotion to “balancing the budget” with no regard for human life. In retaliation, McCarthy was ousted on October 3.
On October 25, the GOP elected Mike Johnson as Speaker of the House. Johnson is not only an election denier, but spearheaded the effort to overturn the 2020 election in congress. He is also a fervent bigot. He has claimed that homosexuality is “inherently unnatural” and “dangerous.” Johnson is a Bible-thumping extremist in every sense, even going so far as to imply that his election was ordained by God. He claimed in a radio interview that the contents of the Bible are historically factual. He has also claimed that the “founding fathers” of the USA structured the government in such a way to protect the Christian church.
To be fair, Kevin McCarthy was not all that much better. He was the architect of the Republican Party’s continued embrace of Donald Trump after the January 6 attack on the Capitol. McCarthy seemingly saw the cynical and calculating fact that he could still use Trump’s brand to garner support for Republicans. Yet, McCarthy’s loyalty to Trump was not seen as iron-clad enough for the extremists such as Representative Matt Gaetz, who launched the campaign to oust him. Famously, Trump demands absolute loyalty from his acolytes. It is clear this battle was about who can best serve him, not the people of the USA.
Christian fundamentalists in positions of power are a growing threat to hundreds of millions of people. Women will suffer from lack of access to reproductive healthcare. LGBTQIA+ people will suffer losing their own healthcare access and rights. These fundamentalists oppose the right for same-sex couples to legally marry, and Johnson in particular opposed the decision in Lawrence v. Texas, the ruling that forbade criminal punishment for sexual conduct between consenting individuals — sanctions most often used to prosecute gay men and women. He has also proposed laws banning the mention of sexual orientation or gender identity and criticized the removal of conversion therapy books, a form of abuse forced onto LGBTQIA+ individuals in order to “make them straight.” Christian fundamentalist policies also frequently target non-white people and religious minorities – atheists, Jews, and Muslims, and even Catholics at times. Johnson opposes expansion and legalization of marijuana, and anti-marijuana laws have been used to disproportionately imprison Black and Hispanic people. He also supports allowing prayer in school, a situation which would force non-Christian students to participate or potentially face ostracization. Not only that, but their policies will undoubtedly affect the education of tens of millions of school children. Children may be taught about creationism instead of evolution. They will likely be taught that climate change is either not man-made or does not exist at all, despite nearly every year being hotter than the last. And they will be deprived of sex education, which not only isolates LGBTQIA+ individuals who may lack the words to express their experiences, but also sexually abused children who may not understand what is happening to them or that it is wrong – a story all too common, as millions of teens engaging in unprotected sex leads to increased transmission of venereal diseases and unplanned pregnancies. Perhaps you are fortunate that you do not belong to any of these groups that will be directly affected, but almost certainly others in your life will be.
Trumpism is not supported by the majority of people in the USA. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they would not support Trump if he is a candidate in the 2024 election. This is the movement that Speaker Johnson is a part of, one representing a minority in the country. This is not to say that Trumpism cannot win in politics, quite the contrary. Thanks to the electoral college, gerrymandering, judicial overreach, and other flaws in the political system, the extremist minority can lord over the majority.
There is no doubt that the government of the United States does not represent the common worker. The policies and beliefs of the Republican Party and the House of Representatives are not shared by the majority of the nation, and instead appeal only to a small portion of reactionaries. Despite this, the party maintains its hold, and with each election, the Republican Party grows ever more extreme – from McConnell, to McCarthy, and now to Johnson – every step a binding tightening on the wrists of the workers and the oppressed; every step, a step closer to fascism.