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Steve King and the Tipping Point for the Republican Party?

Congressman Steve King (R-IA) is in the news for endorsing Canadian white nationalist Faith Goldy for mayor of Toronto. This is not the first time King has made headlines for his sympathy for far-right politicians, but Goldy is the first openly racist and anti-semitic candidate he has endorsed. Which leads to the question: What is the Republican Party going to do with Steve King?

Until recently, the GOP remained silent about King despite his racially charged behavior. But they shouldn’t take his actions lightly. Faith Goldy is someone who makes a living promoting racist conspiracy theories. Goldy was fired from her job as a journalist for the far-right Canadian outlet The Rebel Media after she appeared on a podcast by The Daily Stormer, a well known neo-nazi website. She has a history of making racist statements like reciting “the 14 words,” a popular neo-nazi slogan, but she then backtracks or says she’s misunderstood. Yet if one studies her political trajectory, it becomes clear she is a  white nationalist. While these facts were publicly known, Goldy still received King’s endorsement.

In response to his actions,  the Des Moines Register is endorsing Steve King’s adversary, Democrat candidate J.D. Scholten. They suggested King only passed one bill as a primary sponsor during his eight terms in Congress, stating he spent most of his time promoting racist and xenophobic conspiracy theories. For example, rather than working for his state, King retweeted neo-nazis and white nationalists like Mark Collett of the far-right British National Party. They also mentioned King’s strong ties particularly with the Freedom Party of Austria.

King has a history of making inflammatory statements against immigrants and people of color. He once said that “demographics are our destiny” and warned that “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” He has also pushed conspiracy theories about undocumented immigrants.

While Democrats have a history of accusing many Republicans of being racists without the necessary proof, this doesn’t mean that the GOP should refrain from condemning King. In Canada, Ontario Premier Doug Ford of the Conservative Party has already denounced Faith Goldy for her hateful views.

Democrats, however, do a better job at challenging their radical candidates. In 2006, the Democratic Party supported Hank Johnson to challenge then-incumbent Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who was known for supporting anti-semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros and Alan Greenspan. Like Democrats, Republicans should also be willing to support a challenger to King.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely the GOP would support a candidate who would challenge Steve King, because he has President Trump’s endorsement. Because Trump is seen as influential in early primary states like Iowa, it is unlikely the GOP will speak out against King. But if the Republican Party doesn’t take a stand against him, the GOP would be betraying American conservatism by embracing someone whose worldview is completely racist. He views people just as members of ethnic categories, not as individuals. Fortunately, the conservative publication The Weekly Standard has openly condemned Steve King. Let’s hope that the Republican Party and conservative movement do the same.

 

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Camilo Gómez is a freelance writer and host of the History and Politics podcast.

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