Jack Johnson: ‘I Want Tennessee to Be the Tip of the Spear in Terms of Fighting the Radical Left’

May 23, 2023

Live from Music Row, Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – guest host Aaron Gulbransen welcomed Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) in studio to review the Tennessee General Assembly’s legislative victories and the outlook for 2024.

Gulbransen: We’ve been continuing our conversation with Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, who’s been kind enough to grace us with his presence in the studio today. It’s always nice to hang out with your friends.

It’s really early in the morning, but it helps the day go by quicker. (Johnson chuckles) As a programming note, Michael will be back on Monday. So we’ve been talking about just since we got to spend an extended time with you about your history as a conservative, your history in the conservative movement, and what Tennessee was like pre-Republican takeover in the short period of time that we’ve really had a Republican majority in the state, which is 12 years.

That’s three presidential cycles. It’s almost nothing. It’s a blink of an eye. And we’ve talked about the wonderful achievements you’ve had in the general assembly. Let’s go to this year. We’ve talked at length about some of them, but let’s go through some of the achievements on bills that you’ve sponsored this year and things you’re very proud of.

Johnson: We have talked a lot about it, but Senate Bill 1, and Senate Bill 3, as they were filed. And I was proud that the very first bill that was filed for the 113th General Assembly was legislation that leader William Lamberth, the House Majority Leader, and I filed to prohibit transgender surgeries on minors in the state of Tennessee.

Not just surgeries, but also medicinal treatments for gender dysphoria gender confusion, whatever term you wish to use for it. It was divulged that we had a prominent medical facility right here in Middle Tennessee that had a dedicated clinic for these types of surgeries. Not on adults, but on children to actually remove body parts and to prescribe medication that will forever irreparably harm a child’s body.

And obviously, there was a tremendous outroar from the people of Tennessee. And so I was proud to sponsor that and very honored that the vast majority of my colleagues in the general assembly supported that legislation to get that done. The other thing that we did was Senate Bill three which was relative to adult-themed and sexually explicit entertainment.

We’ve had videos that have surfaced over the recent months in the last year or so of the family-friendly drag shows. And I think any reasonable person would say that’s anything but family-friendly, with some very sexually graphic things taking place as part of that entertainment.

So we passed legislation to prohibit that as well. Those are two accomplishments. And if you see a theme developing it is just the battle with the radical left and call it woke, call it radical left, call it, whatever you want to call it. But there are continuous efforts from the far-left to try to inject their ideology and indoctrinate our kids.

And that’s something we just have to be ever mindful of and vigilant in terms of keeping that from seeping into our culture in Tennessee. I believe that Tennessee is being targeted because again, we are the most conservative state in America. I will defend that.

When you look at the totality of what Tennessee has done, we are a shining example of conservative policies working, and I’m very proud of that and my colleagues that have worked hard to make that happen in recent years.

I’m so grateful for all of them and their efforts. But that’s making us a target, and I think that the left is going to continue to come in and try to target us. Lots of other things. A massive transportation bill to relieve traffic congestion in and around Tennessee.

Continued efforts with regards to improving our educational outcomes by prohibiting rather, our treasurer was fully supportive of that, from utilizing ESG rather environmental, social governance in terms of their investing decisions.

Again, another woke policy that is being utilized in parts of our country to try to affect public policy through access to capital rather than through a legislative process. The battle continues, but I just want Tennessee to be the tip of the spear in terms of fighting the radical left.

Gulbransen: You hit on it. I do think it’s one, it’s a heck of a list of accomplishments, but I do think it’s part of the reason why the left goes so crazy in the blue areas, and I don’t feel like giving them the time of day at the moment on naming names, but you see some of these bad actors doing crazy things.

Michael talked about it, and it was on The Tennessee Star and a few other outlets, a recording that you know, was released about planning. But I do think the level of conservatism in the state as a whole also winds up intensifying the pushback that the Left does. Because they also think that if they can get a hold here, or at least they’ll get a lot of press by doing crazy things.

As you think about next year, in the next few years, what. What are some of the things that you, at the very least want to work on because you know, it’s not like you can wave a magic wand and decide the general assembly is going to pass something as much as we all wish. But yes. What are the things you’re looking to work on in the future?

Johnson: I think one of the things you’ll see us continue to focus on, and we certainly have in the past, but it’s become far more important even in recent years because of who occupies the White House, and that is standing up to the federal government, and you’ve seen this massive grab for power from the federal government and the president of the United States, literally with the stroke of a pen without legislation trying to enact radical leftist policies for the nation.

Most of those have been deemed to be unconstitutional, whether it was vaccine mandates or other things that he has tried to do. Tennessee, again, if we’re going to be a leader in terms of conservative values and conservative thought, we need to be a leader in standing up to an overreaching, overbearing federal government.

Now, I’ll tell you, the four years under President Trump it was night and day. When you look at it from my vantage point as a member of state government that the cooperation we had with the Trump administration, when there’s something we wanted to do that might violate some federal policy, they would work with us and be cooperative and roll that back to give us greater latitude and greater flexibility to do what we think is best for Tennesseans.

That’s completely been reversed. Much like the policies at the southern border have been reversed under the Biden administration that’ll certainly continue to be a topic for conversation as we look ahead to 2024.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Jack Johnson” by Senator Jack Johnson. Background Photo “Tennessee State Capitol Senate Chamber” by Kenneth C. Zirkel. CC BY-SA 4.0.


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