The Making of a Speaker: Mike Johnson’s Commitment to Conservative Values:
Ever found yourself wondering what it takes to be at the helm of the House of Representatives? Join us as we delve into the story of Mike Johnson, the newly crowned Speaker of the House. Johnson’s journey from Liberty University to the corridors of the U.S Capitol is a testament to his steadfast commitment to conservative principles. We discuss his dedication to individual freedom, limited government, and the rule of law, and what these mean in the context of his role as Speaker. Johnson will prove his ability to navigate these tricky political waters.
Our conversation takes a personal turn as Speaker Johnson shares a poignant chapter of his father’s life and the profound impact it had on shaping his own. As we sign off, we draw inspiration from Mike Johnson’s leadership and urge everyone to keep the torch of freedom burning bright. Remember to keep him, his team, and our leaders in your thoughts and prayers as we collectively strive to uphold the values that our great nation stands for.
Air Date: 10/26/2023
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Rick Green: 0:03
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s WallBuilders. We’re taking on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. And what a hot topic we’ve got for you today. A new speaker of the house has been chosen. I’m Rick Green, here with David and Tim Barton. Guys, I’m trying not to be giddy. I’m trying to be rational about this. I would never have dreamed we would end up with Mike Johnson of Louisiana as speaker of the house. This feels like to me, you guys tell me if I’m wrong, but it feels like to me a potential real turning point, inflection point. We know him as a man of God. We know him as a constitution guy, as someone that’s grounded in biblical worldview and constitutional limitations. His speech, oh wow, I mean, just sounded like he was a WallBuilders speaker. I mean, guys, I’m excited. Am I missing something? What do you guys think?
Tim Barton: 1:02
Rick, I feel the exact same way. This is literally the kind of guy that we’ve been praying for to be in that position, someone that understands that our rights come from our creator, they come from God, that the government’s job is to protect our God given rights, that we are created equal. Literally the principles and the foundation of the declaration and understanding the constitution was built on a limited government philosophy, and the reason it’s so encouraging is for those that don’t know a lot about Mike Johnson, certainly there’s so many articles out about him over the last 24 hours as people are trying to figure out who this guy is. We’ve known this guy for years. He’s been a friend for years. He was a constitutional attorney, actually worked for Alliance Defending Freedom and, for those of you that have been listening to WallBuilders for a while, you’ve heard us interview attorneys from the ADF, Alliance Defending Freedom. On Good News Friday we will highlight stories where Alliance Defending Freedom helped win cases for individuals whose religious liberty was being taken away and they step in. This was one of their attorneys, Mike Johnson. He also is an adjunct professor. He taught constitutional law, con law, at the Law School at Liberty University. I mean, this guy is so much of the kind of person that we would want to be there and it’s so encouraging. In fact, one of the things, we’ve had Mike Johnson be part of our pastors briefing, come speak to pastors for a while. We’ve had him speak to some of our student groups in the summer and even at our state legislators conference We’ve had him involved. He did something a couple years ago called Seven Core Principles of Conservatism, where he said that there’s seven things that conservatives ought to have, they ought to do, and it was individual freedom, limited government, the rule of law, peace through strength, fiscal responsibility, free markets and human dignity. And one of the things he pointed out is that so often we as conservatives don’t do a good job of explaining what we’re trying to conserve and what are we trying to promote or defend. What are we trying to uphold? And this is somebody that literally articulated it, put it on a website, made a website for this, and he’s been arguing for these principles. So, Rick, I don’t think you’re seeing this wrong. Now you know how much difference can a speaker make when you have a very divided nation, with the House and the Senate, and a very divided House, a very slim majority that’s yet to be determined, but he’s at least the kind of guy that we’ve been praying God would put in that position because of his principles, his beliefs and his values.
Rick Green: 3:28
I mean just the way you said all that Tim gets me excited. I can’t help it. I mean okay, David, what do you think, man?
David Barton: 3:31
Well, jumping into what Tim just said, he does have a difficulty in that he’s only got a five-vote majority in the House and out of the 222 Republicans, 170 are considered conservative. Mike used to head what’s called the Republican Study Committee. That’s conservatives in the House, and that was 170 out of the 222. So essentially, you’re looking at about 52 Republicans that are not considered conservatives. They don’t consider themselves conservatives and they’re not part of the Republican Study Committee. He only has a five-vote margin and so it is going to be tough. Staff is going to be everything. We’ve already been talking with him about staff and what kind of staff, and talking to people helping choose staff, because this staff now goes from the size of a congressman, congressional staff to the speaker staff, which is probably four to five times bigger. So he’s got to have a lot of people that he chooses and they need to be the people with his worldview. So the people around him helping him in Congress, the members that are helping him, are all good guys, they’re all God guys, they’re all conservative guys, and so that’s really good that they have a good team working on it. One of the things that came through in Mike’s speech and you got it really clearly. He’s a very likable guy, he’s a very nice guy, he’s humorous and casual, but he’s also tough and principled, and he made that really clear. And there’s an old axiom back from cowboy days that said hey, this guy you know he’s tough but he’s nice. He’ll make you smile before he hits you in the mouth so that you won’t bloody your lips when he breaks your teeth. And that’s kind of the way that it is. He is not going to compromise who he is. He’s going to make it as comfortable for you as it can be with the principals that are there, but he’s not going to back down. And so his difficulty, the difficulty will not be him. The difficulty would be whether he can get those extra five people to go with him as he goes through all this stuff, because some of those people, flat, are not conservatives, and that’s just the way the House always is. So Mike is really good, he’s really principled, he’s really grounded, he’s the guy that heard him, he’s really likable. So there’s no question that Mike is a really solid guy, really principled. Quite frankly, I think we heard more God stuff in his space and we’ve heard in any speech when he’s speaking, a long time Newt Gingrich would been closed, but he became more evangelical after he left the speakership, after he got out of Congress. So this is probably like the first time in the 20th century We’ve had something like this and that we’ve had a guy of this character, this commitment, this knowledge, this Experience and this devout faith as a speaker. So this really is a first in our lifetime. I don’t hesitate to say that at all. It’s going to be real interesting to see how it works out. Mike’s not going to be the one that that compromises the stuff, but can he get the rest of the Congress to go along with it? That’s what we’ll have to see, and if he can’t, don’t blame Mike for that. But I really do think he’s going to be able to get both sides to work together better than we’ve seen in a long time and he’ll be able to find common ground in a way that other speakers have not been able to. So I think we have real good prospects in front of us.
Rick Green: 6:31
Well, you nailed it, David, I mean that description, that cowboy description, is exactly right because he has the personality and the ability and folks will hear it in the speech in a second, to win people over and to get the job done. He’s got a huge challenge ahead of him, no doubt about it. We need to be lifting him up, he and his family, in prayer. We’re going to take a quick break. When we come back We’ll go straight into Mike Johnson’s acceptance speech as speaker of the house. Stay with us folks. You’re listening to WallBuilders.
Tim Barton: 7:05
Hey, this is Tim Barton, with WallBuilders, and as you’ve had the opportunity to listen to WallBuilders Live, you’ve probably heard the wealth of information about our nation, about our spiritual heritage, about the religious liberties, about all the things that makes America exceptional, and you might be thinking, as incredible as this information is, I wish there was a way that I could get one of the WallBuilders guys to Come to my area and share with my group whether it be a church, whether it be a Christian school or public school or some Political event or activity. If you’re interested in having a WallBuilders speaker come to your area, you can get on our website at www.WallBuilders.com and there’s a tab for scheduling and if you’ll click on that tab, you’ll notice there’s a list of information from speakers bios to events that are already going on, and there’s a section where you can request an event. To bring this information About who we are, where we came from, our religious liberties and freedoms. Go to the WallBuilders website and bring a speaker to your area.
I want to thank my dedicated wife of almost 25 years, Kelly. She’s not here, we couldn’t get a flight in time. This happened sort of suddenly, but we’re going to celebrate soon. She spent the last couple of weeks on her knees in prayer to the Lord and she’s a little worn out, we all are. I want to thank our children, Michael and Hannah and Abby and Jack and Will. All of our children sacrifice, all of them do and we know that and there’s not a lot of perks to being a member of Congress’ kid, right? And so, I want to thank all of your families as well for what they endure and what they’ve had to endure for the last few weeks, we’ve been here a while. Yeah. I want to thank my faithful mother, Jeanne Johnson, who bore me at the age of 17 and my brothers, Chris and Josh, and my sister, Laura and all their families and all of our extended family. In Louisiana family’s a big deal and we’ve got a bunch of them. I especially want to thank all the extraordinary people of the great State of Louisiana. We have never had a speaker of the House hail from our State and so they’ve been lifting us up. I thank the people of Louisiana for the opportunity to serve you in Congress and I’m humbled by your continuous support, we will make you proud. To my colleagues, I want to thank you all for the trust that you have instilled in me to lead us in this historic and unprecedented moment that we’re in. The challenge before us is great, but the time for action is now and I will not let you down. I want to say to the American people, on behalf of all of us here, we hear you. We know the challenges you’re facing. We know that there’s a lot going on in our country, domestically and abroad, and we are ready to get to work again to solve those problems and we will. Our mission here is to serve you well, to restore the people’s faith in this House, in this great and essential institution. My dad, as it was mentioned, my dad was a firefighter. He was an assistant chief in the Fire Department in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, a little town in northwest Louisiana. On September 17th, 1984, when I was 12 years old, he was critically burned and permanently disabled in the line of duty. All I ever wanted to be when I grew up was the Chief of the Fire Department in Shreveport, but after the explosion on that fateful day, he nearly died and it was a long road back and it’s changed all of our life trajectories. I’m the oldest of four kids and my dad, he lived with pain all the rest of his life for decades more and I lost my dad to cancer three days before I got elected to Congress, three days, and he wanted to be there at my election night so badly. I’m the first college graduate in my family. This was a big deal to him. So several weeks after that, it was early 2017, it was my freshman term and it fell to me to be in the rostrum one night to serve here as Speaker Pro-Tem. I thought that was a big deal until I figured out that’s what you do for freshmen late at night and I think, if my memory serves, Ms. Jackson Lee was winding down one of her long, eloquent speeches, and not that I was not enraptured by her speech, but I looked up at the top of the chamber there and I saw the face of Moses staring down and I just felt in that moment the weight of this place, the history that is revered here and the future that we are called to forge, and I really was just kind of almost overwhelmed with emotion. It occurred to me in that moment it had been several weeks and I had not had an opportunity yet to grieve my dad’s passing and I just had this sense that somehow he knew and I had tears come to my eyes and I was standing here and I’m wiping them away and then it suddenly occurs to me the late night C-SPAN viewers are going to think something’s very wrong with the new young congressman from Louisiana. It wasn’t. [inaudible 00:07:25] speech, I’m sorry. I just knew in that moment that my dad, my father would be proud of me and I felt that he was, and I think all of our parents are proud of what we’re called to do here. I think all the American people at one time had great pride in this institution, but right now that’s in jeopardy and we have a challenge before us right now to rebuild and restore that trust. This is a beautiful country. It’s the beauty of America that allows a firefighter’s kid like me to come here and serve in this sacred chamber where great men and women have served before all of us and strive together to build and then preserve what Lincoln did refer to as the last best hope of man on earth. We stand at a very dangerous time, I’m stating the obvious. We all know that the world is in turmoil, but a strong America is good for the entire world. We are the beacon of freedom and we must preserve this grand experiment in self-governance. It still is. We’re only 247 years into this grand experiment. We don’t know how long it will last, but we do know that the founders told us to take good care of it. I want to tell all my colleagues here what I told the Republicans in that room last night. I don’t believe there are any coincidences in a manner like this. I believe that scripture, the Bible is very clear that God is the one that raises up those in authority. He raised up each of you, all of us, and I believe that God has ordained and allowed each one of us to be brought here for this specific moment in this time. This is my belief. I believe that each one of us has a huge responsibility today to use the gifts that God has given us to serve the extraordinary people of this great country and they deserve it and to ensure that our republic remains standing as the great beacon of light and hope and freedom in a world that desperately needs it. It was in 1962 that our national motto, “In God We Trust” was adorned above this rostrum and if you look at the little guide that they give tourists and constituents who come and visit the House, if you turn in there to about page 14, in the middle of that guide, it tells you the history of this and it says very simply, “These words were placed here above us. This motto was placed here as a rebuke of the Cold War era philosophy of the Soviet Union. That philosophy was Marxism and communism, which begins with the premise that there is no God. This is a critical distinction that is also articulated in our nation’s birth certificate.” We know the language well, the famous second paragraph that we used to have children memorize in school and they don’t do that so often anymore, but they should. G. K. Chesterson was the famous British philosopher and statesman and he said one time, “America is the only nation in the world that is founded upon a creed” and he said, “It’s listed with almost theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence.” What is our creed? We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, not born equal, created equal, and they’re endowed by the same unalienable rights, with the same unalienable rights, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. That is the creed that has animated our nation since its founding, that has made us the great nation that we are and we’re in a time of extraordinary crisis right now and the world needs us to be strong. They need us to remember our creed and our admonition. Turmoil and violence have rocked the Middle East and Eastern Europe. We all know what intentions continue to build in the Indo-Pacific. The country demands strong leadership of this body and we must not waver. Our nation’s greatest ally in the Middle East is under attack. The first bill that I’m going to bring to this floor, in just a little while, will be in support of our dear friend, Israel and we’re overdue in getting that done. We are going to show not only Israel but the entire world that the barbarism of Hamas that we have all seen play out on our television screens is wretched and wrong, and we are going to stand for the good in that conflict. We have a catastrophe at our southern border. The Senate and the White House can no longer ignore the problem. From Texas to New York, wave after wave of illegal migrants are stressing our communities to their breaking points. We know that our streets are being flooded with fentanyl and all of our communities, children and even adults are dying from it. The status quo is unacceptable. Inaction is unacceptable and we must come together and address the broken border. We have to do it. The skyrocketing cost of living is unsustainable and Americans should not have to worry about how they’re going to feed their family every week because they can’t afford their groceries anymore. Everybody in this room should think about this. Here’s the stats. Prices have increased over 17% in the last two years. Credit card interest rates are at the highest level in nearly three decades and mortgage rates are now at a peak we haven’t seen since 2001. We have to bring relief to the American people by reigning in federal spending and bringing down inflation. The greatest threat to our national security is our nation’s debt and while we’ve been sitting in this room, that’s right, that debt has crossed almost $33.6 trillion. In the time that it’s going to take me to deliver this speech, we’ll go up another $20 million in debt. It’s unsustainable. We have to get the country back on track. Now, we know this is not going to be an easy task and tough decisions will have to be made, but the consequences, if we don’t act now, are unbearable. We have a duty to the American people to explain this to them so they understand it well and we are going to establish a bipartisan debt commission to begin working on this crisis immediately. We all know that we also live in a time of bitter partisanship. It was noted and it’s been on display here today, right, when our people are losing their faith in government, when they’re losing sight of the principles that made us the greatest nation in the history of the world. I think we got to be mindful of that. We’re going to fight, we’re going to fight vigorously over our core principles because they’re at odds a lot of times now in this modern era. We have to sacrifice sometimes our preferences because that’s what’s necessary in a legislative body, but we will defend our core principles to the end. In his farewell address… Thank you. In his farewell address, President Reagan explained the secret of his rapport with people and I like to paraphrase his explanation all the time. He said, “You know, they call me the great communicator, but I really wasn’t that.” He said, “I was just communicating great things and that the same great things have guided our nation since its founding.” What are those great things? I call them the seven core principles of American conservatism, but let me concede to you all. I think it’s really quintessentially the core principles of our nation. I boil them down to individual freedom, limited government, the rule of law, peace through strength, fiscal responsibility, free markets and human dignity. Those are the foundations that made us the extraordinary nation that we are, and you and I today are the stewards of those principles, the things that have made us the freest, most powerful, most successful nation in the history of the world, the things that have made us truly exceptional. In this time of great crisis, it is our duty to work together, as previous generations of great leaders have, to face these great challenges and solve these great problems. I will conclude with this. The job of the Speaker of the House is to serve the whole body and I will, but I’ve made a commitment to my colleagues here that this Speaker’s office is going to be known for decentralizing the power here. My office is going to be known for members being more involved and having more influence in our processes, in all the major decisions that are made here for predictable processes and regular order. We owe that to the people, that’s right. And I’m going to make this commitment to you, to my colleagues here and on the other side of the aisle as well, my office is going to be known for trust and transparency and accountability, for good stewardship of the people’s treasure, for the honesty, integrity that is incumbent upon us, all of us, here in the people’s House. Our system of government is not a perfect system. It’s got a lot of challenges, but it is still the best one in the world and we have an opportunity to preserve it. Last thing I’m going to say is a message to the rest of the world. They have been watching this drama play out for a few weeks. We’ve learned a lot of lessons, but you know what, through adversity, it makes you stronger and we want our allies around the world to know that this body of lawmakers is reporting again to our duty stations. Let the enemies of freedom around the world hear us loud and clear, the people’s House is back in business. Thank you, thank you. We will do our duty here. We will serve you well. We will govern well and we’ll make you proud in this institution again. We’re going to fight every day to make sure that is true. I look forward to the days ahead. I genuinely believe in my heart that the best days of America are still ahead of us. God bless you and God bless the United States of America. Thank you. Thank you. I’m now ready to take the oath of office and I ask the Dean of the House of Representatives, the Honorable Harold Rogers of Kentucky to please administer the oath of office.
Mr. Speaker-Designee, congratulations on your election.
Thank you, sir.
When our founding fathers chose a bold, new and innovative new self-rule government, it was met with deep skepticism by the world’s monarchs. They said, “Self-rule is only a dream.” Our founders said, “They’re right. It’s the American dream.”
Now it’s our dream, we’re in charge. The Speakership of the United States House of Representatives is the crucial outpost for the wellbeing of the people’s government. The keeper, if you will, of the dream. Sir, if you wish to assume this awesome responsibility, please raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on what you are about to enter, so help you God?
Rep. Mike Johnson:
I do, so help me God.
Congratulations, Mr. Speaker.
Rick Green: 25:50
Wow, guys. I mean he’s literally quoting from the declaration, he’s quoting… I mean it sounded like he was on WallBuilders radio or at one of our conferences. That was phenomenal, how encouraging!
David Barton: 26:03
Yeah, rick, I totally agree with you. I think this is the time of real optimism. It’s the time of real fights and real battles, but I think we have some tools at our disposal now haven’t had any long time. I’m looking forward to Mike being speaker, leading the nation.
Rick Green: 26:16
Hey folks, this is a great time for you to thank the Lord. I’m serious, like drop on your knees and thank God for this and this type of leadership and then keep the Johnson family in your prayers and the entire leadership team and the staff like David had been talking about. Thanks so much for listening. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders.