Witte: We should all beware of Steve King


Photo: Kelsey Kremer/Iowa State Daily

Joan Lucas, of Indianola, waves a Gadsden flag during the Tea Party of America’s Restoring America event on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011 in Indianola. Lucas said she came to the event “to see Sarah.” 

Jacob Witte

After each census is taken every 10 years, there is a constitutional requirement that states redraw their district lines in order to keep the representation of the people in a more balanced and proportional manner. And because the House of Representatives is currently set at 435 members, some states may gain congressional seats and some may lose. Although Congress does have the power to add seats to Congress, 435 has been the number of seats since 1911 (except for several years, after Hawaii and Alaska joined the Union, in which it went to 437 but then back to 435).

After the 2010 census, Iowa unfortunately lost one of its congressional districts, and in the coming election in November, the number of Iowa members of the House of Representative will be four, down from five. And thanks to this redistricting, there is a new face that may be representing Ames. His name is Steve King, and he should scare the living daylights out of you.

King was voted into Iowa in the 5th District, representing the western portion of Iowa in 2002. He has since become a firebrand conservative, using hyperbole as his only style of rhetoric. And even using the term “hyperbole” is putting it mildly.

In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend, King began his speech saying how, because of the new compact fluorescent lightbulbs, Americans are losing their liberty. He then went on to call the janitors of the Capitol grounds that change out incandescent bulbs for the new CFL bulbs and, I quote, “Nancy’s [Pelosi] Stasi troops.”

The Stasi, or Ministry for State Security as King is speaking of here, was one of the most repressive secret police agencies in the world. They were responsible for the arrests of upwards of 200,000 East Germans during the occupation, killing untold amounts of them, mostly for political reasons. This, King tells us, is being reincarnated in the form of the janitors who change the lightbulbs.

So while King is railing away, telling fellow conservatives how they are losing their liberty because incandescent lightbulbs are on their way out (a bill signed, mind you, during the Bush administration), King quietly voted last February to extend the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, including warrantless wiretapping and surveillance.

King also signed away your and my rights when voting for the National Defense Appropriations Act of 2012, which allows the president to indefinitely detain anyone who fits into the vague descriptions of supporting enemies of America or her coalition partners until the “end of hostilities.”

Comparing something so trivial as purchasing lightbulbs to actively supporting being illegally spied upon by your own government is perhaps the worst form of hypocrisy that comes to my mind.

But it doesn’t stop there. King has been quoted saying that racial profiling “has always been an important component of legitimate law enforcement.” He also said in 2008 that if President Barack Obama were to be elected president, radical Islamists and al-Qaida “will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11 because they will declare victory in this War on Terror.”

King also voted against a $52 billion aid package for victims of Hurricane Katrina. He joined 11 (out of 435, remember) in voting this down, citing the need for “fiscal responsibility.”

In regards to illegal immigration, King is uncompromising. He once compared immigrants to cattle by having an electrified fence that would “discourage” them from entering the country.

Representing Ames, in my opinion, would be a nightmare for a politician like King. This is because, in a center of higher education and learning, most residents are immune to his pathetic attempts of propaganda and manipulation. And because Ames is one of the largest cities in the new 4th District in Iowa, it will be a place where King will likely come to campaign before November.

This election, King will be running against Christie Vilsack, the wife of former Iowa Gov. and current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. In the 2010 campaign, King neglected his opponent, Matthew Campbell, choosing not to debate him, and won in a landslide. It is unlikely that this same method will work in this campaign, as King will have to win a much larger portion of the electorate.

Politicians like King, whose rhetorical style relies heavily on closed-mindedness and a general lack of historical knowledge, may work well in the rolling hills of rural western Iowa, the stomping grounds of fellow ultraconservative Bob Vander Plaats, but the rest of the state knows better.