Rep. Steve King (R- IA) has faced deserved backlash recently from Democrats and fellow Republicans due to insensitive anti-immigrant statements he’s made on Twitter and television.
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017
In a tweet supporting since-ousted anti-immigrant Dutch candidate for Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, King tweeted, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
He later went on CNN the following day and reiterated the sentiment from his tweet.
“You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies. You’ve got to keep your birth rate up, and that you need to teach your children your values,” King said, paraphrasing remarks he said he’s delivered to audiences in Europe. “In doing so, you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture, and you can strengthen your way of life.”
King said he’d like to see less of an emphasis on race in the future.
“If you go down the road a few generations, or maybe centuries, with the inter-marriage, I’d like to see an America that is just so homogenous that we look a lot the same,” he said.
Republicans and Democrats on the hill, from Paul Ryan to John Lewis, have come out against the remarks. The resounding push back being markedly similar despite ideological differences. We are a nation of immigrants and that history and diversity is something we value in American society. We look different, have different and shared traditions, worship differently or not at all. But those differences are all under the genus of “American.”
The media, mainstream and social, was hardly silent on the matter either. Many rightwing outlets and pundits joined in condemning King’s comments. The sentiment has rightly been that Republicans should reject King, and his ilk’s, brand of nationalism out of hand.
Ultimately, the conversation moved to what consequences should King face? Many argued that his committee assignments, of which he currently has three, should be revoked. A punishment that seems unlikely, as Speaker Ryan knows Steve King votes in line and the revocation would be simply for holding a bad opinion and the sin of saying out loud, not for any hard-dealing within the caucus.
Others have argued that King needs to be booted not only from Congress but from the Republican Party. A righteous and withering sentiment, to be sure, but hardly a likely scenario.
“King is in a district that is deep red,” says Brandon Finnigan, founder of the non-partisan Decision Desk. “He’s proven his durability in both primary and general elections. He’s made statements like this before and the numbers don’t change.”
The idea of successfully primarying King anytime soon is a non-starter. Rick Bertrand attempted to do so in 2016 and King won handily with 64.7 percent to Bertrand’s 35.3 percent. Not to mention the fact that King has the leg up when it comes to name recognition and the tacit backing of the Republican Party apparatus by virtue of being the incumbent.
Beyond that is the fact that Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, the district King has represented since winning the seat in 2002, remains one of the safest Republican districts in the country.
The idea of a Democrat successfully ousting King, based on elections results, is equally unlikely. King has consistently garnered nearly 60 percent of his district’s vote even when running in a four-way general election (2006), or in a high turnout year for Democrats, like 2008, he still cleared 58 percent of the vote.
So, with all of this information, the obvious question is, “Now what?”
Is having someone with Steve King’s anti-immigrant, pro-homogenous culture view in the Republican Party or under the moniker of conservative distasteful and problematic? Absolutely. But barring a groundswell of outrage, of which there seems to be no indication, or Steve King stepping aside — don’t hold your breath — Republicans are stuck with him for the foreseeable future.
The best one can hope for is him being stripped of committee assignments, but what does that do?