Racist Congressman Steve King Wonders What’s So Bad About Being A Racist

Iowa's Steve King has long expressed anti-immigrant and racist views, now he's asking why that's a bad thing.

Iowa Congressman Steve King has long made a name for himself as the Republican Party’s loudest voice against immigration, including not just illegal immigration but also legal immigration, which he has said shoud be drastically curtailed. He has also been among the loudest voices on the right speaking out against Muslims being allowed in the United States, being allowed to hold public office, or allowed to take the oath of office on the Koran if they are elected. Not surprisingly, King became one of Donald Trump’s early supporters in the 2016 campaign, although he had initially backed the campaign of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and has been among the President’s more vocal supporters since Inauguration Day. During that time, King has seemingly become more open in his bigotry and his sympathy for white supremacist views, something that he makes even more clear in a new interview with The New York Times:

Years before President Trump forced a government shutdown over a border wall, triggering a momentous test of wills in Washington, Representative Steve King of Iowa took to the House floor to show off a model of a 12-foot border wall he had designed.

And long before Mr. Trump demonized immigrants — accusing Mexico of exporting criminals and calling for an end to birthright citizenship — Mr. King turned those views into talking points, with his use of misleading data about victims of undocumented immigrants and demeaning remarks about Latinos.

Immigration is Mr. Trump’s go-to issue, his surest connection to his most faithful supporters, and his prime-time address on Tuesday night underscored his willingness to use fear and misleading statements to appeal to voters — just as he did with warnings about a migrant caravan before the midterm elections.

The Republican Party hadn’t always intended to go this route: Officials tried for years to come up with broad-based immigration reform that would appeal to growing numbers of Latino voters. But Mr. Trump’s preoccupation with the wall and anti-immigrant politics reflects how he has embraced the once-fringe views of Mr. King, who has used racist language in the past, promotes neo-Nazis on Twitter and was recently denounced by one Republican leader as a white supremacist.

With the federal government in a third week of paralysis over a border wall, Mr. Trump’s positions are a reminder of how Mr. King’s ideology and his language maligning undocumented residents helped shape the Republican message in 2016 and 2018 and define Mr. Trump’s agenda and prospects for re-election. Mr. King may have been ostracized by some Republicans over his racist remarks and extremist ties, but as much of the nation debates immigration, his views now carry substantial influence on the right.

Early in Mr. Trump’s term, the president invited Mr. King — who was long snubbed by establishment Republicans like the former House speaker John A. Boehner — to the Oval Office. There, the president boasted of having raised more money for the congressman’s campaigns than anyone else, including during a 2014 Iowa visit, Mr. King recalled in an interview with The Times.

“Yes, Mr. President,” Mr. King replied. “But I market-tested your immigration policy for 14 years, and that ought to be worth something.”

Mr. King, in the interview, said he was not a racist. He pointed to his Twitter timeline showing him greeting Iowans of all races and religions in his Washington office. (The same office once displayed a Confederate flag on his desk.)

At the same time, he said, he supports immigrants who enter the country legally and fully assimilate because what matters more than race is “the culture of America” based on values brought to the United States by whites from Europe.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

In response to the Times article, King issued the following statement on Twitter in which he fails to deny making the statements attributed to him above:

As the article goes on to note, King has been quite open about his anti-immigrant views from his early days in Iowa politics, such as when as a member of the state legislature he sponsored a bill making English the state’s official language at a time when workers from Mexico and Central America were becoming more common on the state’s farms and in the slaughterhouses that processed beef and other livestock as part of the vast agricultural industry. Once he was elected to Congress he became one of the Republican Party’s most vocal anti-immigrant voices, joining forces with Colorado’s Tom Tancredo, who effectively passed the torch to King when he left Congress after the 2008 election. He also found allies in fellow Republican Members of Congress such as Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert and former Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who echoed many of the same anti-immigrant, xenophobic comments that King did although not with quite the same amount of fervor that King does.

Since the rise of Donald Trump, though, King has seemingly joined a number of other white supremacists such as those who organized the summer 2017 “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville that included members of the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, and other hate groups, and which resulted in the death of a counter-protester at the hand of one of the men who participated in the rally in becoming far more open in his racism. Over the course of the past several years, for example, King has endorsed a candidate for Mayor of Toronto, Canada who has neo-Nazi ties, he has met with the leaders of a far-right political party in Austria that has been accused of questioning and downplaying the seriousness of the Holocaust. Among the accounts he follows on Twitter is an activist on the far-right of Australian politics who has, among other things, called for the hanging of a portrait of Adolf Hitler in every classroom in that country. On Twitter, he follows an Australian anti-Semitic activist, who proposed hanging a portrait of Hitler “in every classroom.”

When he spoke with a far-right publication in Austria over the summer last year, King seemed quite familiar with several racist conspiracy theories, books, and ideas embraced by white supremacists and neo-Nazis across the globe. For example, as the Times article noted, King spoke of something called “the Great Replacement,” which is basically a far-right conspiracy theory that so-called “elites” are seeking to reduce white populations across the globe and replace them with minority groups from other parts of the world. This is the conspiracy theory that inspired the torch-bearing protesters in Charlottesville who chanted slogans such as “Blood And Soil!,” a slogan that has its roots in Nazi Germany, and “Jews will not replace us!”  King has also forged close ties with far-right political leaders in Europe such as France’s Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, who has built his reputation on being one of the most virulent anti-Muslim politicians in Western Europe and has advocated ideas such as closing mosques. in response to the influx of mostly Muslim refugees and immigrants from Syria and other parts of the Middle East. In March of 2017, King tweeted his endorsement of Wilders in a tweet, saying that “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

Domestically, King has become something of a hero those on the so-called alt-right who have become more open about their beliefs in the wake of President Trump’s election. For example, Andrew Anglin, who operates the far-right website Daily Stormer, and who joined others on the white supremacist right in celebrating Trump’s win in 2016, has been quoted as saying that King is “basically an open white nationalist at this point.” More recently, when the new Congress was sworn in last week along with a record number of women and African-Americans, as well as Muslim and Native American women, King apparently remarked that the Democratic side of the chamber looked like “no country for white men.”

King’s increasingly open display of racism hasn’t been without consequence. In the wake of his interview with the Austrian magazine, for example, King lost several top corporate agricultural companies such as Purina, Land O’ Lakes, and Smithfield as donor sources. He found himself condemned by the head of the Republican House elections committee, Congressman Steve Stivers of Ohio, who said: “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms.” More recently, Iowa’s Republican Governor condemned King’s positions. and fellow Republican Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan and Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney have both condemned King in the wake of his recent comments. Additionally, King has picked up a significant challenger for the Republican nomination for his seat in Randy Feenstra, who serves as Assistant Majority Leader in the State Senate and who has said that King is depriving his constituents of a proper representation due to the distractions that his controversial views bring to the table. He has also picked up a second challenger in Bret Richards, a local businessman who has never held office before. All that being said, it’s worth noting that King won the Republican primary in 2018 with 75% of the vote, and won the General Election over his Democratic challenger despite some speculation in the weeks beforehand that his seat could be vulnerable. In the end, King’s victory by 10,000 votes was narrower than he has seen in many years, though, and that is likely the reason why Feenstra is challenging him now. In any event, King has been an open racist for years now, so one wonders why it has taken this long for someone who might have a chance of winning challenge him for the nomination.

All that being said, removing King from Congress would be satisfying but the fact that he’s there in the first place is troublesome in any case. The fact that he has been re-elected, usually by overwhelming margins, by the people of Iowa’s 4th Congressional Districts suggests that at some level at least he reflects their own beliefs, including his rhetoric on race and immigration. Additionally, the fact that, like so many other white supremacists, King has seen the election of Donald Trump as an open invitation to be more open about their racism is a sad sign of the kind of nation Donald Trump’s America has become. Instead of unity and equality, we have a President who has made it comfortable for racists like King to spew their nonsense. As King himself said in the article above, he “market tested” the same anti-immigrant, xenophobic ideas that have been President Trump’s bread and butter since entering the race in June 2016 for much of his 14 years in Texas. In that sense, I guess you could say that Donald Trump is the natural outgrowth of Steve King and that he is the price the GOP and the nation is paying for the failure to properly condemn King and people and like him n the years before Trump came along. That alone is a good reason to reject Trump and all those to support him and to get them out of power as soon as possible.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Race and Politics, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. Kylopod says:

    This exemplifies the bait-and-switch game played by the GOP today. King steps right to the edge of openly calling himself a white nationalist/supremacist, then backs off and wraps himself in the more familiar rationalizations about how his concern is culture, not race. It’s barely even a fig leaf anymore.

    It’s worth remembering that the term “white nationalist” was originally coined by WN groups themselves as an alternative to calling themselves “white supremacist”–a label they generally reject. They also typically reject the term “racist” in favor of jargony expressions like “race realism” or “racialism.” The last time I visited Stormfront (which was years ago), its FAQ claimed that one of its missions was combating racism against white folks.

    But whatever label they choose, WN groups at least make no bones about the fact that they view the world in racial terms. Elected Republicans like King and Trump have become far more explicit than the party used to be about these things, but they still talk in code to some degree, and still feel the need to issue periodic denials that race is what they have in mind. So they’re still wearing a veil–it’s just a transparent one.

  2. James Pearce says:

    “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

    Dude isn’t a student of history, is he?

  3. Mister Bluster says:

    And long before Mr. Trump demonized immigrants — accusing Mexico of exporting criminals and calling for an end to birthright citizenship — Mr. King turned those views into talking points,..

    Since Donald Trump and Steve King want to end Birthright Citizenship I demand that both of them renounce their birthright citizenship today.

  4. Joe says:

    We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.

    If it’s really just about culture, why can’t we?

  5. KM says:

    @Kylopod :
    Kinda like the alt-right and Tea Party named themselves and then complain those names are pejoratives. They picked those names to stand out /separate themselves as a group, completely trashed their image to the public and then whine when their chosen name has negative social connotations. The internet never forgets and there’s pictures to prove it was your idea in the first place.

    Look, it's not our fault you named yourselves "Tea-Baggers" without doing an internet search first. It's not our fault Spencer settled on "alt-right" and there was never an "alt-left" for you to blame. It's not our fault "white nationalist" was created by a white supremacist and people can tell when you're calling a rabbit a smeerp. Changing the name without changing the brand just adds a new word for people to sneer at.

  6. Kathy says:

    I’m rather in agreement with white nationalists about the need to keep the races separate. I wholeheartedly wish to keep white nationalist far apart from the human race.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @Joe: IIRC there was an effort by the Nazis to preserve their culture with other peoples babies, so long as those babies had culturally appropriate hair, eye, and skin color.

  8. Kylopod says:

    @KM: The “alt right” designation is a bit complicated. The people who started the movement were, for the most part, open and unapologetic white nationalists (Spencer has never denied being a WN). Then it started being promoted by people with a closer relationship to mainstream right-wing media–most notably Milo, who tried to present the alt right as a primarily nonracist movement aimed at triggering the PC set. There has since emerged a term “alt lite” that gets applied to people like Milo (and a number of others, including Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Mike Cernovich). The term was actually coined by some of the more hardcore alt-right people, but it’s since been adopted by watchdog groups like SPLC and ADL.


    Of course not everyone who’s been called “alt right” has embraced the term, but there is still some bait-and-switch going on: the most notable example was the Trump Administration’s early disavowal of the movement despite Bannon’s previous description of his own website as a “platform for the alt-right.”

  9. CSK says:

    OT, but Michael Cohen is going to testify before Congress about Trump’s misdeeds.

  10. MarkedMan says:


    This exemplifies the bait-and-switch game played by the GOP today.

    One quibble: this isn’t merely about the GOP “today”. This goes back decades. For example, the infamous decision to kick off Reagan’s campaign in Philadelphia, MS and have him begin with a speech about State’s rights and the intrusive federal government and then immediately clutch their pearls, shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you!, that anyone could think they were winking to the racists \at the murders of the civil rights figures that took place there. Because after all, Philadelphia MS is the most obvious place to kick off a national campaign for the Presidency. Given all the other historic events that took place in that thriving metropolis of 7,477 souls, how could they have possibly even remembered the murders? (By the way, when Philadelphia, MS tallies their population, do they only count the white people?)

  11. KM says:

    Fair enough. My point still stands that it was not invented as a slur or derogatory term by liberals as is the current “logic” du jour. For those who don’t like the negative social connotation, they’re going to make it a impugning term that was unfairly thrust upon them rather then someone on their side of the aisle brand-building with the wrong crowd. They want do the act and not carry the label’s baggage, even if they packed that baggage themselves.

    Steve King doesn’t care if he is a racist. Hell, he doesn’t even care if you call him one. He cares that you call him racist and think it’s a bad thing. He’d be fine inventing a new term and doing the same old thing sans judgement if he could.

  12. Ben Wolf says:


    If you’ve paid attention to politics on the internet as long as I have, you might have noticed a worrying and confusing trend: traditionally libertarian figures transitioning into alt-right supporters. I’ve followed the ‘classical liberal’ faction of the internet since about 2014, the year I started becoming interested in politics. I was watching Christopher Cantwell before he became known as the ‘crying Nazi’, when his chant was ‘taxation is theft’, not ‘Jews will not replace us’. I remember Stefan Molyneux when he was debating whether we should have a government, not whether government should be used to promote eugenics.

    This fascinating transition from the libertarian right to the authoritarian right has been mirrored in just about every single alt-right figurehead. Think Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Spencer, Alex Jones, and Tim Gionet (known as ‘Baked Alaska’). The latter used to identify as “a carefree, easygoing libertarian” who “firmly opposed the war on drugs, and championed the cause of Black Lives Matter”. But now, he’s being banned from Twitter for promoting white supremacy and ranting about how Jews control the media. The creator of the Right Stuff, a Neo-Nazi blog that hosts such unsavoury podcasts as the ‘Daily Shoah’ openly acknowledges this, saying “We were all libertarians back in the day. I mean, everybody knows this.” Jeffrey Tucker wrote “They’re doing to libertarianism what they did to Pepe the frog, or Taylor Swift — to co-opt it. They know that no normal American is going to rally around the Nazi flag, so they’re taking ours.” But what exactly makes these people so vulnerable to conversion to the alt-right?

    To understand why libertarians are so susceptible to white supremacist ideas, we have to look at the history of it, specifically within the United States. The fact is that libertarianism has always been a refuge of racism and implicit support for authoritarianism, despite direct contradiction to their supposed ideology. Throughout history, the men who are considered the cornerstone of the right libertarian philosophy supported brutal dictators. Look at Mises’ support of Mussolini, or Hayek and Friedman’s backing of Pinochet. It is clear that the these people have always been willing to put aside ideology for what they see as an end that justifies the means, even in such morally abhorrent cases as supporting Apartheid in South Africa or the Confederacy under the pretence of ‘states rights’. This lingering white supremacy in the libertarian movement carried on beyond the mid twentieth century, into the ideologies of Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell. Rothbard himself wrote that “The proper strategy of libertarians and paleos is a strategy of ‘right-wing populism” Essentially, that means appealing to the racism held within the right of American society (not dissimilar to what we see in Donald Trump).


  13. Kathy says:

    “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

    That’s a big package deal.

    At least it is today. There’s a joke in historical circles that Hitler gave racism a bad name. It seems funny today because racism has been thoroughly discredited and largely banished from respectability. I say largely because it is still accepted by a considerable fraction of the population, so long as it isn’t acknowledged, or is at least minimally disguised as something else. But prior to WWII it was the opposite, and it still stayed respectable for decades afterwards.

    Couching the argument in terms of culture seems like a winning move. It only seems like it. How far back do you go? There are major differences between cultures, and there have always been. But many similarities as well. Greco-Roman mythology seems normal because it’s familiar. Maya mythology seems alien because it’s not. But similarities abound. Is a deity making people out of cornmeal too different from one making people out of clay?

    Western culture can be said to be more successful, insofar as Europe pretty much lorded it over the world between the 16th and 20th centuries. It’s hard to call it superior when you consider barbaric practices engaged in by those Europeans, such as slavery, subjugation, war, genocide, oppression, etc.

    Yes, such things exist in all cultures, but the Europeans managed to supersize them all, with or without help from the people they subjugated. Yes, Africans and Arabs profited from the slave trade, but there was a slave trade because Europe’s colonies in the Americas required much cheap labor to be profitable.

    And how, I wonder, can anyone defend the 20th Century’s two World Wars as products of a superior civilization?

    There is much to admire in modern Western culture, which I date as beginning post WWII, and slowly advancing in areas as universal human rights, avoidance of war, and universal standards of justice. It’s not all it could be, but it’s moving in that direction; or at least it was prior to the second part of this decade.

  14. @Ben Wolf:

    1. Steve King has never been identified with libertarian ideas either within or outside of it.

    2. The vast majority of the people identified in the article you linked to, and in other posts that have made the same argument, are conservatives who started calling themselves “libertarian” or “conservatarian” either because they thought it sounded cool or because it was becoming apparant that identifying as a conservative was becoming something of a bad thing even in the days before Trump

    3. Others that have been identified in these articles include people who rose to prominence during Ron Paul’s two Presidential runs in 2008 and 2012. Ron Paul has never really been much of a libertarian and instead has always been more accurately labeled as a ‘paleo-conservative’ meaning that his beliefs have more in common with what amounted to conservatism in the era before William F. Buckley Jr and others created the modern conservative movement This movement was far more nativist and isolationist than Buckley’s conservatism, and did not respect individual rights in the manner that the libertarianism that developed in the 1970s — largely out of the seeds of the Goldwater campaign in 1964 — and took form in organizations such as the Libertarian Party, Cato, and Reason.

    4. Other people identified in these articles have been linked to people such as Muray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell, who were and are affiliated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute. As with Ron Paul during his second stint in Congress and his two Republican campaigns for President, these people have more in common with the pre-WW2 right than they do with modern libertarianism. This is most notably the case when one looks at their support for the Confederacy and other racist causes.

    The effort to claim any link between the modern libertarian movement and the alt-right is nonsense.

  15. DrDaveT says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Throughout history, the men who are considered the cornerstone of the right libertarian philosophy supported brutal dictators.

    You mean wanting Ayn Rand to tell you how to think doesn’t make you a Rugged Individualist after all? Damn. Paul Ryan is going to be really bummed…

  16. MarkedMan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I have to agree with Doug here. A quick internet search seems to confirm that Steve King does not proclaim libertarian values. A search of his web site finds no hits with “libertarian”.

    However, Doug, I’m curious that you deny that even those who call themselves libertarians are representative of libertarian thought. If these people don’t represent modern libertarianism, then who does? In other words, who do you think represents the best and most solid thinkers in the movement?

    A few days ago I found myself curious about how Libertarians were reacting to the Kansas debacle, which (prior to catastrophe) was being hailed as the ultimate showcase for Libertarian government. I tried for a while but mostly found variations of One-True-Scotsman, “Kansas didn’t lower taxes far enough so it wasn’t a real test after all”, and one lengthy article which lead with (roughly) “As we now know, increased government regulation is strongly correlated to declining countries”. I stopped reading after that. Having spent a fair amount of time in places like Sweden, Singapore, and Germany, to name a few, I recognize this last as just fantastical nonsense.

    But, admittedly, a random google search turns up popular and controversial things, and quality isn’t usually a big factor. I could well have found a bunch of people you think are idiots. I always try to be open to learning new things, or that old ones have changed. I was briefly infatuated with Libertarianism when I was 20 or so, but have spend the better part of four decades sense thinking it was the rankest nonsense. If I’ve been tilting at ancient windmills and ignoring the gleaming intellectual skyscrapers that have replaced them (or even the serviceable bungalows), I would be more than happy to be shown the error of my ways.

  17. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: Sorry, but there’s a big difference between the Reagan in Philadelphia, MS incident and what King and Trump have been doing: it’s the difference between a dogwhistle and a bullhorn.

  18. Kylopod says:

    @Ben Wolf: The relationship between the libertarian movement and the WNs goes back a long way: you can see it in the whole controversy over the Ron Paul newsletter and the heavy support for Paul among WNs (which the article you link to discusses). The term “alt right” was first coined by Richard Spencer while he was editor for Taki Magazine, which described itself as libertarian.

    Of course it isn’t true of all libertarians, but there is definitely a segment of the movement that leans in this direction–the portion that questions the very authority of the federal government and goes knee-deep into conspiracy theories of the black-helicopter variety.

    Per @Doug Mataconis, I agree Ron Paul isn’t a libertarian of the CATO/Reason variety, though he was the LP’s nominee in 1988. You can try to apply a no-true-Scotsman to this brand of “libertarianism,” but it’s a real part of the movement, not just a matter of superficial self-labeling.

  19. Kylopod says:


    There’s a joke in historical circles that Hitler gave racism a bad name.

    I don’t see that as a joke at all; it’s very close to the literal truth. The word racism first arose in the 1930s when it was a direct reference to the beliefs of the Third Reich. The word was a variation on the older term racialism, which as I mentioned earlier is still embraced by WNs today, probably because it lacks the pejorative implications that racism would come to acquire. But that didn’t happen right away: originally racism was just a neutral description of the doctrines of some governments. It wasn’t a term normally applied to people; to do that, you used phrases like “race prejudice” or “race hatred.” It wasn’t until the 1950s that racism began to be used to suggest the psychological or behavioral traits of individuals. That became the main sense of the word after the civil rights era.

    I do think the Nazis played a big role in making open racism taboo. Even Strom Thurmond, during his 1948 campaign on the States Rights ticket, denied that his campaign harbored any “race hatred” and distanced himself from the more plainly racist Gerald L.K. Smith–perhaps in part because Smith had been an open supporter of Hitler.

    If even segregationists in the ’40s were wary of being depicted as racists, that suggests it wasn’t just the civil rights era that drove racism underground: that process was already starting to take effect earlier, and I think the horrors of what the Nazis did had a major impact in making that happen.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: I’m going to disagree on the amount of difference. I think the only thing that has changed is that the decent people in the Republican Party finally snapped the hell out of it and realized they were being dragged into the swamp by those in their party catering to racists. But these people are now former or lapsed Republicans. There was no real difference between Reagan going to the site of an infamous racist murder and winking and nodding about “State’s rights” and slamming the federal government for getting involved in things it had no business in, and Trump’s “Good people on both sides comments”. The difference is that in 1980 decent Republicans were willing to accept the nonsense about how it was all just a coincidence that town was chosen and the press was still willing to do their “Republicans say/Democrats respond” both-siderism nonsense. If the Charlottesville march had taken place in 1980 there would have been a half dozen counter protesters and the media might not have covered it all, so decent people who didn’t want to know could remain ignorant. The only thing that changed between then and now is people, even a lot of Republicans, aren’t willing to turn a blind eye to it anymore.

  21. MarkedMan says:

    Can someone help me out? There is an infamous takedown of Atlas Shrugged, which basically goes line by line and demonstrates what arrant nonsense it is. I’ve seen it referenced in this comments section a number of times but can’t seem to locate it on the intertubes.

  22. DrDaveT says:


    the decent people in the Republican Party finally snapped the hell out of it and realized they were being dragged into the swamp by those in their party catering to racists. But these people are now former or lapsed Republicans

    If only.

    I think you underestimate the amount of cognitive dissonance people can put up with when their tribal identity is threatened. I know quite a few Republicans who are still convinced that the racists, misogynists, and anti-intellectuals who are voting for Trump and King and so forth are somehow still the ‘fringe’ of the party, and that their influence at the moment is an aberration that will soon be corrected. They can’t accept the fact that these people are not only the core of the party, they are the only reason Republicans get elected, and they will not support any GOP candidate who is insufficiently deplorable.

    They think they still belong to Bill Buckley’s Club for Gentlemen. Even though it now meets in an abandoned warehouse and the doorman wears brass knuckles.

  23. MarkedMan says:

    @DrDaveT: I agree that those that remain Republicans in good standing but deny the role that racists play in their party are either complicit or willfully ignorant. But there are many people who have left the Party, or have essentially suspended their membership. They are people who believed in good and rational things who thought the Republican Party truly supported their beliefs. Sound fiscal policy, firm defensive policy, minimal government interference in their lives. Heck, those are things I believe in. The disagreement over whether the Party was the best vehicle for those outcomes was an academic one while the Dixiecrats were standing if front of schools blockading little black kids from the classroom and the Republicans had leaders like Eisenhower, Javits and Rockefeller. If that was still the case, I would be aligned with the Republican Party today!

    But looking back through the mirror of history, in 1964 the Democrats signed all in on Civil Rights, and the Republicans swallowed the poison of the Southern Strategy. As I came of political age in the late 70’s and 80’s, it was obvious to me the tide had turned. But even at that moment, if you neglected the trend and just looked at the makeup of the respective parties, it wasn’t glaringly obvious that the Dems were the good guys on civil rights and women’s issues. We are making a big mistake if we try to map the current situation backward. I recently saw some young progressives trying to make a point about someone or something because they (it?) was associated with Republicans back to the 50’s and therefore always associated with sexism or racism or whatever their point was. But a very legitimate argument could have been made that as late as the 70’s or even 1980 the majority of Republicans and Republican politicians were more pro-civil rights and pro-feminist than the majority of Democrats. It was the trend that seemed obvious, not the facts on the ground.

  24. Kylopod says:


    There was no real difference between Reagan going to the site of an infamous racist murder and winking and nodding about “State’s rights” and slamming the federal government for getting involved in things it had no business in, and Trump’s “Good people on both sides comments”.

    Sorry, there’s a significant difference in explicitness between saying “states rights” and directly and overtly PRAISING a group of marching Nazis and Klansmen–not to mention directly and overtly referring to Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, talking about “sh!thole countries,” and retweeting messages from literal, bona fide neo-Nazis.

    Furthermore, you have to consider the trendlines here: in 1980 we were barely more than a decade removed from when open white supremacists were still a significant force in mainstream politics. The rise of dogwhistle politics that emerged in its place signaled a retreat: the pols knew they couldn’t get away with the open appeals anymore and so they had to resort to winks. The rise of the Tea Party, and ultimately Trump, was a trend in the opposite direction.

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: A quick spin around the internets doesn’t produce it for me, either. I know the one you’re talking about–done by the same guy who did a hard-ass fisking of the “Left Behind” series.

    However, I did find the marvellous “Atlas Shrugged: Part II” from Bob the Angry Flower…

  26. DrDaveT says:


    I agree that those that remain Republicans in good standing but deny the role that racists play in their party are either complicit or willfully ignorant. But there are many people who have left the Party, or have essentially suspended their membership.

    We’re not disagreeing on any of the history, or on any of the facts about what the GOP is actually based on. I’m disagreeing with your suggestion that most Republicans who do not actually endorse racist or misogynist views have left the party or have gone dormant. I think that’s a wildly optimistic estimate, based perhaps on projection and anecdotes.

    As an analogy, how many practicing Catholics have actually left the church or stopped attending mass, due to recent revelations? Conservatism is no less a religion than Catholicism is.

  27. Just Another Ex-Republican says:
  28. MarkedMan says:


    I’m disagreeing with your suggestion that most Republicans who do not actually endorse racist or misogynist views have left the party or have gone dormant. I think that’s a wildly optimistic estimate, based perhaps on projection and anecdotes.

    Then we are even more agreement then you think. I consider “many” = 10-15%. But that’s just a SWAG.

  29. MarkedMan says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican: That’s a really good one, but not the one I’m thinking of. He one I’m looking for was more detailed, almost paragraph by paragraph.

  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    I tend to laugh at libertarianism, but Steve King is no libertarian, he’s a Tea Party nut, much more closely aligned to the evangelical Christian core of the GOP than to the sophomoric narcissism of the LP.

  31. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds: While I can’t speak for Ben Wolf, I didn’t take him to be implying that Steve King–or Donald Trump for that matter–is a libertarian. He was responding to my comment on the fuzzy boundary between the alt right and the mainstream, and it is important to note that one of the main bridges between the two is a certain segment of the libertarian movement–a deeply conspiratorial, anti-federal faction that’s distinct from the folks at Reason or CATO, but which still has influence in the broader movement, as evidenced by Ron Paul’s 1988 nomination on the LP ticket. Despite apparent ideological differences, Paul’s 2008 campaign anticipated Trump’s rise in the degree to which it attracted WN support that Paul refused to distance himself from (as I explained a few months ago).

  32. gVOR08 says:

    This has drifted off topic enough to make Krugman’s column from yesterday relevant, Trump’s Big Libertarian Experiment, Does contaminated food smell like freedom?

    That said, the truth is that libertarian ideology isn’t a real force within the G.O.P.; it’s more of a cover story for the party’s actual agenda.

    Not entirely true as The Kochs’ style of libertarianism, ‘no regulation for me, taxes for thee’, is very much a part of the GOP agenda.

    And if you have libertarian leanings yourself, you should ask whether you’re happy with what’s happening with government partially out of the picture. Knowing that the food you’re eating is now more likely than before to be contaminated, does that potential contamination smell to you like freedom?

  33. Monala says:

    @MarkedMan: Are you referring to this John Rogers quote?

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

  34. Monala says:

    @MarkedMan: I want to push back against your assertion that prior to the ’80s, “it wasn’t glaringly obvious that the Dems were the good guys on civil rights and women’s issues.” Republicans make this claim often, even going so far as to say that “Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act. ”

    It’s fair to say that in the 19th century through the 1920s, Democrats were certainly the bad guys when it came to civil rights. Starting in the 1930s and going forward, however, the situation began changing significantly. Yes, Eisenhower sent out federal troops to help desegregate schools, but Truman desegregated the armed forces.

    And with regard to the Civil Rights Act, it was proposed by a Democratic president, JFK, and signed by a Democratic president, LBJ, and a significant majority (about two-thirds) of Democrats voted for it. A greater percentage of Republicans voted for it (about 80%), but because Democrats outnumbered Republicans, more Democrats voted for the Civil Rights Act overall. The actual vote broke down along regional lines (South vs. the rest of the U.S.), rather than party lines:

    The original House version:

    Southern Democrats: 7–87 (7–93%)
    Southern Republicans: 0–10 (0–100%)
    Northern Democrats: 145–9 (94–6%)
    Northern Republicans: 138–24 (85–15%)
    The Senate version:

    Southern Democrats: 1–20 (5–95%) (only Ralph Yarborough of Texas voted in favor)
    Southern Republicans: 0–1 (0–100%) (John Tower of Texas)
    Northern Democrats: 45–1 (98–2%) (only Robert Byrd of West Virginia voted against)
    Northern Republicans: 27–5 (84–16%)

    It’s probably more accurate to say that, prior to the 1980s, “it wasn’t glaringly obvious that Republicans were the bad guys on civil rights and women’s issues.”

  35. I haven’t kept up with this thread sufficiently to respond to everyone so I’m not even going to try.

    However, I go back to my original comment to Ben. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, it became fashionable for some conservatives to call themselves “libertarian” or “conservatrian,” whatever that means. The fact that someone adopts the label doesn’t mean the understand the ideas. Additionally, as I stated, many of the so-called “libertarians” who have drifted into the alt-right are, in fact, people who were more closely aligned with the paleoconservatism of Ron Paul and the so-called Mises Institute (don’t even get me started about that), which among other things has long had a fetish for the Confederacy and other alt-right icons. These people stand in stark contrast to the kind of libertarian ideas espoused by Cato, Reason, the Niskanen Center, and the Institute for Justice.

    Second, one of the first people to denounce Steve King in the wake of his comments in the Times was Congressman Justin Amash, who I would argue is perhaps the only person in either the House or Senate who comes close to what a libertarian legislator would look like.

  36. Kylopod says:


    Northern Democrats: 45–1 (98–2%) (only Robert Byrd of West Virginia voted against)

    You’re defining WV as Northern?

  37. Monala says:

    @Kylopod: Not me, Wikipedia (I copied and pasted). I think they may be defining South as “states that seceded.” West Virginia did not.

  38. Monala says:

    @Kylopod: my comment above is indeed the case, per Wikipedia:

    Note: “Southern”, as used in this section, refers to members of Congress from the eleven states that made up the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. “Northern” refers to members from the other 39 states, regardless of the geographic location of those states.[24]

  39. Monala says:

    @Monala: I do find it interesting that the only Southerners willing to break ranks and vote for the Civil Rights Act were all Democrats.

  40. Monala says:

    @Monala: Just out of curiosity, I decided to look up who those Southern Democratic Yea votes were. They were:

    Claude Pepper, FL 3rd District (Gainsville)
    Charles Weltner, GA 5th District (Atlanta, now represented by John Lewis)
    Richard Fulton, TN 5th District (Nashville)
    Ross Bass, TN 6th District (Middle TN)
    Jack Brooks, TX 2nd District (Houston)
    Albert Thomas, TX 8th District (Montgomery and Walker counties)
    Henry Gonzalez, TX 20th District (San Antonio)

    The Southern Democratic Senator who voted for the Civil Rights Act was Ralph Yarborough of Texas. This info was found on the govtrack.us website.

    Some of these men have interesting stories. Charles Weltner refused to run for re-election when the state Democratic party asked him to sign an oath affirming segregation, saying, “”I love the Congress, but I will give up my office before I give up my principles.” Jack Brooks wrote the articles of impeachment against Nixon. Henry Gonzalez filibustered a set of pro-segregation bills in the TX State Senate for 36 hours straight.

    Yarborough was very progressive: “Yarborough refused to support the Southern Manifesto, which called for resistance to the racial integration of schools and other public places. He staunchly supported the “Great Society” legislation that encompassed Medicare and Medicaid, the War on Poverty, federal support for higher education and veterans, and other programs. He also co-wrote the Endangered Species Act and was the most powerful proponent of the Big Thicket National Preserve.[2] Yarborough criticized the Vietnam War and supported Robert F. Kennedy in the 1968 presidential election until the latter’s assassination.”

  41. gVOR08 says:

    I’ve of late been reading Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. I see references to it all the time, thought I ought to read it. Don’t recommend it. Hayek’s a very generous writer, always offers a thousand words when a hundred would do. The whole thing turns on Hayek’s definition of Socialism, which is not how anyone in the 21st century would define Socialism. (This makes the whole thing not only too prolix, but mostly a strawman argument. If you read it, a good deal of skimming seems appropriate.) The book turns out to mostly be an illustration of how ill defined “Socialism” is. He’s also held up as a Libertarian, although he doesn’t seem very liberatarian.

    It’s a commonplace in these threads to say modern Conservatism isn’t conservative and argue about what it is. There’s also a claim by conservatives (including Hayek) that they’re “Classical Liberals” and modern Liberals are something else.

    It seems that Libertarianism is also ill defined. I’m not going to start reading random bits from Cato, Reason, the Niskanen Center, and the Institute for Justice. Anybody got a single book or article that defines Libertarianism. Or at least their idea of Libertarianism? I’ve found WIKI unsatisfactory.

  42. DrDaveT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The fact that someone adopts the label doesn’t mean the understand the ideas.

    This is only a valid criticism if there is, somewhere, a substance that is independent of the label. I’ve been hoping that you (or someone else) would respond to @MarkedMan‘s question about who the term ‘libertarian’ ought to apply to, and who among those is the clearest thinker.

  43. JohnMcC says:

    @Resistance Ron: To be fair, you are correct that the left side is rather quick to call-out/identify racism. Mea culpa.

    It is also fair to note that even Sen Tim Scott has not actually allowed himself to say ‘Congressman Steve King is a racist’. Which leaves the number of R-‘s calling an obvious racist by his proper title — zero.

    And if ‘no one believes…’ and ‘no one pays attention when you scream RACIST…” well, why did you pay attention and metaphorically scream back?
    Wouldn’t be self-doubt, now. Would it?

  44. Alex Cole says:

    Steve King is just saying out loud what most conservatives believe about immigrants, illegal or not. The GOP is not upset about what he said, they are just upset that he said it in public.

  45. Jim Henley says:

    @Resistance Ron:

    The problem here, Ron, is that you’re using the alleged misbehavior of the dreaded Left, including that arch-Leftist, Douglas Mataconis, Esq., to dodge your own responsibility. Even if someone mistakenly or maliciously calls all those people racists when some of them are not, you still have agency and still have a moral responsibility to decide for yourself who is and isn’t racist, regardless of what liberals or Actual True Scotslibertarians say about any of them.

    If you say, someone called John McCain a racist and now someone is calling Steve King a racist and John McCain is not a racist so I don’t have to take anyone’s word for it about Steve King, that part’s true. If, however, you say, “someone called John McCain a racist and now someone is calling Steve King a racist and John McCain is not a racist so I don’t have a responsibility to examine the evidence regarding what Steve King has said and done and render my own judgment according to that evidence,” then you are dodging your responsibility to see and speak the truth.

  46. Kylopod says:

    @Resistance Ron:

    You spend so much time calling everyone your disagree with a racist, that when you do finally come across one, everyone has already tuned you out.

    GWB, Romney, McCain, Trump (insert republican here).

    Since the later part of your comment makes it clear that you’re addressing Doug, it should be noted that Doug, to my knowledge, has never described GWB, Romney, or McCain as racist. In fact, to my knowledge he voted for all three.

    As for “the left,” I have a simple assignment for you: Name 3 liberal pundits of note who called John McCain a racist. Name 3 liberal pundits of note who called Mitt Romney a racist.

    It should be amazingly easy to come up with the names if accusations of racism against Romney and McCain were anywhere near as widespread on the left as you imply.

  47. mattbernius says:

    @Resistance Ron:
    Its so sweet when you lie to own the libs and defend the racists that you happily vote for in order to own the libs.

    And the fact you disappear after each lie just shows how little even you believe in what you are saying. But you just can’t quit our downvotes can you?

  48. Alex Cole says:

    I’m sorry guys, the Republican party should be better than this, Steve King is only making the GOP look bad because of his long history of hate. The guy has a Confederate battle flag on his desk for goodness sake.

  49. Kylopod says:

    @Alex Cole:

    The guy has a Confederate battle flag on his desk for goodness sake.

    And that makes him different from other Republicans…how?

    Sure the GOP should be better than this, but to act as though he’s some kind of outlier in the party, rather than someone who’s just a touch more explicit than usual, is to miss the scope of the problem by a light year.