‘He Seems to Be Saying His Commitment Is to Minority Rule’

“As he understands it, this country was founded as a Christian nation. And he stands in a long tradition of conservative white evangelicals, particularly inside the Southern Baptist Convention, who have a distinct understanding of what that means. And this is where evangelical author and activist David Barton comes in.
Johnson has said that Barton’s ideas and teachings have been extremely influential on him, and that is essentially rooting him in this longer tradition of Christian nationalism. Christian nationalism essentially posits the idea that America is founded on God’s laws, and that the Constitution is a reflection of God’s laws. Therefore, any interpretation of the Constitution must align with Christian nationalists’ understanding of God’s laws. Freedom for them means freedom to obey God’s law, not freedom to do what you want. So really, Christian supremacy and a particular type of conservative Christianity is at the heart of Johnson’s understanding of the Constitution and an understanding of our government.”

“The core principles of our nation reflect these biblical truths and biblical principles. He has gone on record saying things like, for him, this biblical worldview means that all authority comes from God and that there are distinct realms of God-ordained authority, and that is the family, the church and the government.

Now, all this authority, of course, is under this broader understanding of God-given authority. So it’s not the right of any parents to decide what’s best for their kids; it’s the right of parents to decide what’s best for their kids in alignment with his understanding of biblical law. Same thing with the church’s role: It is to spread Christianity but also to care for the poor. That’s not the government’s job.

And then the government’s job is to support this understanding of authority and to align the country with God’s laws.”

“one of Johnson’s core principles of American conservatism — as he reiterated them in his speech on Wednesday — is free enterprise. For conservative evangelicals, they don’t really see much of a tension between these”


3 winners and 3 losers from the House speaker circus

“Johnson is a movement conservative close to the Christian right. He’s also a stalwart Trump ally who actively worked to help the former president try to overturn Joe Biden’s victories in key 2020 swing states — making Trump, who helped torch the chances of Johnson’s leading rival Tom Emmer on Tuesday, another winner.”

“After Johnson won the GOP conference’s speaker nomination Tuesday night, one reporter asked him about having led Trump’s challenges to the 2020 election results. The assembled GOP leadership team booed, with one member yelling “shut up!” Johnson demurred: “Next question.”

“January 2025 could be different. The House that meets to certify the presidential election results that month will be newly elected, but Johnson could well still be speaker. If so — and if there’s a similar dispute where Trump is denying a Biden victory — it’s far from clear what Johnson will do.
Generally, from November 2020 through January 2021, the Republican Party behaved terribly irresponsibly, but just enough Republicans in positions of power did the right thing — certifying the results at some political cost. Since then, critics of Trump’s attempt to seize power have largely been purged from the party, and election denial has been increasingly normalized. For instance, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), an idiosyncratic conservative, said he initially wouldn’t support a speaker candidate who denied the election results — but he backed Johnson anyway.

Would a GOP-controlled House certify a Democratic victory in the 2024 presidential election? With Johnson in charge, that may have grown less likely — and that has ominous implications for the state of American democracy.”


Why the GOP Can’t Unite

““This is a political-leaning conference right now, not a policy-leaning conference,” Ryan told me. Which makes sense, he added, because “our party is a populist-leaning party right now, not a policy-leaning party.”
In this sense, there’s some logic to Jordan ascending to lead Republicans in the House, the body which best reflects the sentiments of the GOP’s Trumpified rank-and-file.

“He’s a very articulate fighter on TV, with the gavel,” Ryan said. “He is the star of the conservative media industrial complex, he is their darling.”

Yet as we spoke, Jordan had just seen 20 of his GOP colleagues oppose his candidacy on the House floor, a day before the tally would rise to 22.

“He is where the center of gravity is,” Ryan added of Jordan, “but I think, we’ll see what happens here, there’s just enough institutionalists around still that…”

I interrupted: “He can’t get quite get there.”

Which was a nicer way of saying what I was thinking: There are still enough antibodies resisting the virus.

However, if we’re being honest, in the House, and the GOP writ large, increasingly it’s Jordan who’s the body and the pre-Trump Republicans the virus.”


At Ronald Reagan Library, GOP Candidates Reject Ronald Reagan’s Immigration Vision

“”Unique among nations, we draw our people—our strength—from every country and every corner of the world,” said Reagan, calling the ability to attract newcomers “one of the most important sources of America’s greatness.” Immigrants help ensure that the U.S. remains “a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge, always leading the world to the next frontier,” he continued. “If we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost.”
It was the last speech he delivered as president and it was, as some have called it, a “love letter to immigrants.” And though he made no distinction between “legal” and “illegal,” Reagan was broadly willing to treat immigrants with humanity.

“Rather than talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit?” he said during the 1980 Republican primary debate. Four years later, during a presidential debate with Democratic candidate Walter Mondale, he explained, “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.” Reagan would follow through on that statement by signing an amnesty bill into law in 1986. Any immigrant who entered the U.S. prior to 1982 was made eligible for a pathway to citizenship, ultimately extending amnesty to nearly 3 million immigrants.”


How red-state politics are shaving years off American lives

“Ashtabula’s problems stand out compared with two nearby counties – Erie, Pa., and Chautauqua, N.Y. All three communities, which ring picturesque Lake Erie and are a short drive from each other, have struggled economically in recent decades as industrial jobs withered – conditions that contribute toward rising midlife mortality, research shows. None is a success story when it comes to health. But Ashtabula residents are much more likely to die young, especially from smoking, diabetes-related complications or motor vehicle accidents, than people living in its sister counties in Pennsylvania and New York, states that have adopted more stringent public health measures.
That pattern held true during the coronavirus pandemic, when Ashtabula residents died of covid at far higher rates than people in Chautauqua and Erie.

The differences around Lake Erie reflect a steady national shift in how public health decisions are being made and who’s making them.

State lawmakers gained autonomy over how to spend federal safety net dollars following Republican President Ronald Reagan’s push to empower the states in the 1980s. Those investments began to diverge sharply along red and blue lines, with conservative lawmakers often balking at public health initiatives they said cost too much or overstepped. Today, people in the South and Midwest, regions largely controlled by Republican state legislators, have increasingly higher chances of dying prematurely compared with those in the more Democratic Northeast and West, according to The Post’s analysis of death rates.

The differences in state policies directly correlate to those years lost, said Jennifer Karas Montez, director of the Center for Aging and Policy Studies at Syracuse University and author of several papers that describe the connection between politics and life expectancy.

Ohio sticks out – for all the wrong reasons. Roughly 1 in 5 Ohioans will die before they turn 65, according to Montez’s analysis using the state’s 2019 death rates. The state, whose legislature has been increasingly dominated by Republicans, has plummeted nationally when it comes to life expectancy rates, moving from middle of the pack to the bottom fifth of states during the last 50 years, The Post found. Ohioans have a similar life expectancy to residents of Slovakia and Ecuador, relatively poor countries.

Like other hard-hit Midwestern counties, Ashtabula has seen a rise in what are known as “deaths of despair” – drug overdoses, alcoholism and suicides – prompting federal and state attention in recent years. But here, as well as in most counties across the United States, those types of deaths are far outnumbered by deaths caused by cardiovascular disease, diabetes, smoking-related cancers and other health issues for residents between 35 and 64 years old, The Post found. Between 2015 and 2019, nearly five times as many Ashtabula residents in their prime died of chronic medical conditions as died of overdoses, suicide and all other external causes combined, according to The Post analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s death records.

Public health officials say Ohio could save lives by adopting measures such as a higher tobacco tax or stricter seat-belt rules, initiatives supported by Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican generally friendly to their cause.”


Is America uniquely vulnerable to tyranny?

“Around the world, they find two conditions that make political parties more likely to accept electoral defeats: “when they believe they stand a reasonable chance of winning again in the future” and when they believe “that losing power will not bring catastrophe — that a change of government will not threaten the lives, livelihoods, or most cherished principles.”

In the 21st century, these conditions no longer held among the GOP’s conservative white base. Democrats were no longer a mere political rival, but avatars of a new and scary social order.

“Not only was America no longer overwhelmingly white, but once entrenched racial hierarchies were weakening. Challenges to white Americans’ long-standing social dominance left many of them with feelings of alienation, displacement, and deprivation,” Levitsky and Ziblatt write. “Many of the party’s voters feared losing … their country — or more accurately, their place in it.”

This, they say, is what made the party vulnerable to conquest by someone like Trump. Rather than fight the base in democracy’s name, traditional Republican elites like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) acted as “semi-loyal democrats”: leaders who say the right things about supporting democracy and the rule of law, but value partisan victory over everything else — including basic, non-partisan democratic principles. This enabled the entire party to become a vehicle for an anti-democratic agenda.

“Openly authoritarian figures — like coup conspirators or armed insurrectionists — are visible for all to see. By themselves, they often lack the public support or legitimacy to destroy a democracy. But when semi-loyalists — tucked away in the hallways of power — lend a hand, openly authoritarian forces become much more dangerous,” they explain. “Throughout history, cooperation between authoritarians and seemingly respectable semi-loyal democrats has been a recipe for democratic breakdown.””


Trump’s become a runaway train in the GOP primary. Here’s why.

“They’re more conservative than other Republicans. More likely to be men. Less likely to have graduated from college.
And they’re way more confident they’ve made up their minds, even though the first primary or caucus is still four months away.

That’s the coalition former President Donald Trump has assembled in asserting his dominance over the Republican presidential primary.”


The Religious Right’s Grip on the GOP Is Weakening. That’s Working to Trump’s Advantage.

“Back in 2016, Trump ran away with the Republican nomination despite a crowded field of candidates, many of whom had real religious bona fides. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a member of a Southern Baptist Church in Houston, often quoted scripture during his stump speech. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted a Bible verse a day. Yet, despite lack of any religious credibility, Trump won half of the votes of Republicans who attended religious services weekly in 2016, while Cruz only got only 30 percent of their votes and Rubio earned 11 percent.
That was significant, but it would have meant little had he not earned huge support from Republicans who weren’t religious. During the nomination process, two in five Republicans described their religious attendance as “seldom” or “never” according to data from the VOTER Survey, a longitudinal study sponsored by the Democracy Fund that repeatedly interviews thousands of Americans. Among those who said that they never attended religious services, two-thirds were Trump voters in the 2016 Republican primary. Cruz, by contrast, managed just 16 percent of this group. Among those who described their attendance as “seldom,” Trump secured 57 percent of the vote while Cruz only tallied 22 percent.”

“In 2016, 39 percent of all Republican voters attended church less than once a year. In comparison, just 36 percent said that they attended religious services at least once a week.”

“In 2008, 44 percent of Republicans reported that they were in church at least once per week. By 2022, that number had slipped to just 35 percent. In comparison, the share of Democrats who attended weekly only declined five percentage points (23 percent to 18 percent) during the same time period.”