Why did it take so long for Republicans to criticize Steve King?

Iowa’s congressperson Steve King is not the stupidest person in the US Congress. That honor belongs to Texas congressperson Louis Gohmert. But King has been saying the most obnoxious things, especially when it comes to race. That King is a stone-cold racist has been well-known for a long time.

And yet for the longest time, conservatives and Republicans have refused to denounce him and he has been winning re-election to his house seat, though the last one was much narrower than in the past, with a margin of just 3%. But his latest musings wondering when and why ‘white supremacism’ and ‘white nationalism’ became offensive terms seems to have finally tipped the scales with at least some Republican elected officials now distancing themselves from him.

But will the party call for him to resign? Will they strip him of his committee assignments that give him a platform for his views? Will they run a candidate against him in the next primary election?

All these are the real tests of how sincere their current distancing from him is. But don’t hold your breath that they will do any of those things. King (and Gohmert) serve useful roles for the party in that the things they say out loud rallies the racists, nativists, misogynists, and xenophobes to the party.


  1. lorn says

    Why now?

    Before this time Republicans have been winning. And, in part, winning because of, not despite, the racism.

    With the Democrats winning congress it seems the GOP message, and in part the racist theme, has passed the point of maximum advantage. It is becoming a liability.

    Publicly chastising KIng allows the GOP generally to soften its racist image and gives at least one person, the one doing the public chastisement, to polish up their anti-racist image. This is, of course, Kabuki theater, and virtue signaling. Like a murderous pimp dropping a fin into a beggars cup, but only if someone who matters is watching, to polish his image as a generous ‘man of the people’.

    The GOP is still all about power and control. Conscience, decency, and virtue are simply poses adopted to advance a story that will advance their lust for power. If they thought it would advance their cause they would just as readily all show up in white robes and pointy hats to sing Dixie with King. All of it just means to an end.

  2. Holms says

    “Why did it take so long for Republicans to criticize Steve King?”
    Easiest question ever! Answer: they are basically the same as him, they just guard their speech marginally better.

  3. lanir says

    I don’t think you can join a political party and have huge moral disagreements with something as central to their unstated message as racism is to republicans. I would bet that the vast majority of the party is just apathetic to these issues. They either agree to some extent or they don’t care. Speaking out on these issues because they offend you is not likely to be taken well.

    Abortion rights are a similar issue on the democratic side. You can disagree with the party line and even vote against it if your constituents support that. But can you imagine the ruckus and pushback if someone tried to change the party line on that issue? It would be a non-starter. Taking a real stand against racism for republicans is just as pointless.

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