Rep. Steve King made headlines again this week for vile comments. This time, discussing rape and incest’s impacts on population growth as reasons against exceptions in anti-abortion legislation.
This editorial could so easily be a list of racist, xenophobic and otherwise offensive things King has said throughout his political career. We could fill this whole piece — or even an entire newspaper — with reasons he doesn’t deserve to represent the Fourth District.
But to what end?
To be clear, the Iowa State Daily Editorial Board believes King’s resignation is long overdue, but that cry is hardly revolutionary today.
Countless public officials have called for his resignation, including House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney. He was removed from his House committees for racist statements he made in January and remained unapologetic for those remarks more than a month later.
The Iowa State Daily Editorial Board called for his resignation earlier this year. His Ames constituents showed up at his office to protest his stance on immigration this summer, but no one was at his office to hear from them or accept their letter. No one was there for a similar protest last summer, either.
To say the least, his apathy for his constituents is well-documented.
So, that’s who we would like to talk about — because the race for the Fourth District really shouldn’t be about King. It shouldn’t be about Republican primary contender Sen. Randy Feenstra, and it shouldn’t be about Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten either. It should be about the people of the Fourth District.
So, who are they?
Iowa State students, faculty and staff are one obvious example. More than 200 of them indicated on the 2018 campus climate survey that they had experienced some form of “unwanted sexual contact,” which includes “fondling, rape, sexual assault [and] penetration without consent.”
When King mulled over sexual violence’s impact on population growth — and was later confronted by a woman familiar with such experiences — he unashamedly ignored his constituents who have felt the pain of such violence.
Their experiences deserve representation.
According to the United States Census Bureau, more than 40,000 members of the Fourth District are not native-born and more than 60,000 are not white.
King’s repeated assertion that “we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies” — which earned commendation from former Ku Klux Klan leader and former Louisiana state representative David Duke — certainly didn’t seek to bring together all of the folks in the Fourth District, but their experiences deserve representation, too.
The Fourth District is home to more than 755,000 people with wonderfully varying ideas, beliefs and creeds. If King is to remain in office, he has to represent all of them — not just those who look like him.