US House of Representatives
Congratulations, Mr. Trump
After three weeks of absurd bickering, the US House of Representatives has a new leader. A certain Mike Johnson will be wielding the speaker’s gavel from now on. But the real winner is someone who no one has to google.
Mike Johnson. Mike Johnson. Mike Johnson. Most Americans will first have to google the name of the third most powerful man in the USA.
In fact, at first glance, the new Speaker of the House of Representatives seems as generic as his name. Just like a nice, but somehow pale guy who would rather stretch his feet in the park on Sunday morning than express his opinion in parliament on Monday morning. But the Ned Flanders facade is deceptive. Johnson is on the right. Really right.
As a true hardliner, he has the necessary basic ideological equipment that an arch-conservative needs in the post/pre-Trump era: The lawyer and former radio presenter is a strict opponent of abortion, describes homosexuality as “dangerous” and doubts man-made climate change.
That alone doesn’t make the representative from Louisiana anything special. Because what was considered scandalously radical just a few years ago is now the factory setting. But the 51-year-old southerner has achieved something that the three most powerful men in the party had previously failed miserably: he rallied the faction behind him, which was divided beyond recognition, and put an end to the extremely embarrassing bickering between the center-right and right-right. At least for now.
In the end, the party establishment, completely exhausted by the power struggle, probably just wanted it to be over. At least no Jim Jordan, some moderates will wearily rejoice. However, no matter how much the center may gloss over the outcome of this internal party carnage: Speaker Johnson is also the result of a right-wing extremist group project initiated by the hardcore Trumpists.
In the end, only one person actually won: Donald Trump.
Trump has wiped out the middle
The ex-president also wears the pants in his long-distance relationship with the Republicans. When the party agreed on the moderate Tom Emmer after two unsuccessful candidacies, Trump texted a word of power. Emmer is “completely out of touch with Republican voters” and a “globalist RINO” (a Republican In Name Only – a Republican only according to the party register), he wrote on his “Truth Social” platform. A few hours later, Emmer took his hat out of the ring.
Trump rules in CAPITAL LETTERS, his scepter is the smartphone. If he hadn’t given MPs his messianic blessing to vote for his long-time ally Johnson (“My express RECOMMENDATION is to vote for the leading candidate Mike Johnson”), he would never have become speaker. Ex-speaker Kevin McCarthy, a perfect opportunist, owed every minute of his historically short term in office to Trump and his court.
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The Republican Party of old no longer exists. Trump has erased the middle and cultivated the extremes. Anyone who is not unconditionally for him is against him. And anyone who is against him will be ghosted in the party. If a small group of Trumpian loudmouths can hold an entire country politically hostage, then democracy is sick. And if willingness to compromise also means betrayal in the future, this democracy will not be healthy again.
Like so many right-wingers, Johnson is still diligently spreading the fairy tale that Trump’s 2020 election victory was stolen. The trained constitutional lawyer even tried to use legal tricks to somehow keep the legitimately voted-out president in office. Back then, Johnson was just a backbencher. If things get tight again in the coming presidential elections, he is likely to side with his patron more broadly than ever – and this time he would really have something to say.
On that note: Congratulations, Mr. Trump.