Convenient courage

Since his latest musings on the white race and western civilization hit the pages of the New York Times, active denunciation of our Congressman is now en vogue—in Republican circles, no less—over his “shocking” bigotry. It’s so bad that the governor has backed away, and Steve King will likely run for re-election in 2020 without an ounce of national support. But if you peel the onion back even one layer, you’ll realize this entire outrage cycle is a hysterical farce in every sense of the word.

 

Say what you will about King—and I’ve said plenty—but to turn against him at this point is not an act of political courage: his worldview has been exactly the same for over 20 years, and anyone who’s followed him at all knows that.

 

As the story goes, he was running through a list of boilerplate GOP policy preferences at a stump speech during a state legislature campaign and noticed that the crowd went wild for a proposal to make English the official language. It was a light bulb moment—like Newton discovering gravity or the Beach Boys perfecting four-part harmonies—and he’s ridden that train to Des Moines, Washington, Austria, Hungary and anywhere else that will have him in the years following.

 

A modern-day hybrid of Father Coughlin and Joseph McCarthy, King made a name for himself as the “Build the Wall” candidate when Donald Trump was still a Democrat, and he’s never shied away from that message or missed an opportunity to promote it.
In 2006, he suggested building an electrified fence along the southern border because “it works pretty well on livestock.” In 2015, he catapulted himself into the national consciousness with the infamous “Somebody else’s babies” tweet/endorsement of Dutch Bond villain Geert Wilders, and the same year, he made what I still consider his most baldly racist statement when he wrote, “Cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.” How else can you interpret that?

 

But where were Kim Reynolds, Kevin McCarthy, Ben Shapiro, Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, Randy Feenstra and the rest when King faced primary challenges from Rick Bertrand in 2016 and Cyndi Hanson in 2018? They were actively campaigning for his re-election, appearing with him at events and tap dancing around the fact that guys like David Duke just LOVED what he had to say.

 

On the heels of a surprisingly strong challenge from upstart progressive JD Scholten, King—rightly, I would argue—feels betrayed. Public pressure forced McCarthy to strip him of committee assignments; he’ll be facing an equally conservative but slightly more palatable challenger in Feenstra, the Boy Scout and State Senator with the perfect Dutch name from one of the most conservative counties in America (watching them kiss up to Trump like “Bachelor” contestants should be a treat); and removing him from office has even been mentioned as a remedy, albeit a farfetched one. 

 

Feenstra, the new darling in respectable conservative circles who infamously attempted to organize an ill fated “boycott” of Des Moines over the Water Works lawsuit, can only manage the words “caustic” and “ineffective” to describe his opponent. Don’t expect him to go any further, because it’s the die-hards and party activists that turn out in primaries. Even Scholten, who campaigned with Bernie Sanders and supported left flank ideas  like Medicare for All and a $15 minimum wage, mostly shied away from directly criticizing King for his racial and “Western civilization” comments on the trail because he was afraid to go there.

 

In 2019, however, we can rest assured that it’s finally convenient for both Republicans and Democrats to put him out to pasture and deliver the coup de grace. King, a post-prison Jimmy Hoffa of sorts, is a pariah now: he’s no longer welcome at the table, and the “in-crowd” doesn’t want him—not even Reynolds, his old campaign buddy who won 38 of the 39 counties (all but Story) that the Congressman represents in a tight race against Fred Hubbell, or Shapiro, the conservative media wunderkind famous for campus agitating who’s written several articles on right wing websites arguing that King is misinterpreted and/or willfully slandered.

 

If you’re looking for a hero in this saga, keep looking. The Congressman is responsible for his comments, but the content hasn’t changed. Like Sanders, Dennis Kucinich and Barbara Lee on the left and Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan and the president on the right, he’s one of the few authentic oddballs in a Washington machine known for churning out mealy-mouthed, focus group drivel that means nothing and ultimately achieves nothing. Reynolds and company have simply jumped off of the Titanic, not due to any sincere conviction or change of heart, but as a craven act of self-preservation. 

 

King could easily be voted out in 2020, but with party officials, the media and establishment politicians all united against him, the rumors of his demise may be exaggerated. Remember Donald Trump?