Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Right of the great divide

If you care to look at what kind of political climate we're facing these days, look no further than Rep. Steve King, western Iowa's crazy-uncle congressman.

In 2008, King -- a three-term representative for whom the description "incendiary" may well be an understatement -- won with 60 percent of the vote. Tuesday, he won with 68 percent.

In February, he was being glib about the guy who flew his plane into the IRS offices in Austin, Texas. Two years before, it was this:

AND THE good people of western Iowa like him just fine, according to today's Omaha World-Herald:
King is a staunch conservative known for eyebrow-raising comments. He expects the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives to lead to his becoming chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law. He is the senior Republican on the subcommittee.

He said Tuesday he wants to introduce legislation reducing and eventually ending federal aid to so-called “sanctuary cities” if they did not change their policies.

“We have a number of cities in our country that, essentially, forbid their law enforcement officers from gathering information on illegals,” he said. “We need to put an end to it.”

Cities — including Seattle, Los Angeles, Houston and San Francisco — have adopted ordinances banning city employees and police from asking residents about their immigration status. King described Des Moines as a “de-facto” sanctuary city where the practice is in place without an ordinance.

He also called for ending automatic citizenship for what he called “anchor babies,” children born in the United States to illegal-immigrant parents. Doing that would likely require changing the U.S. Constitution.
WHAT DEMOCRATS have to deal with isn't that King is a nut and attracts like addle-minded zealots. What Democrats have to deal with is that lots of normal people in the country's breadbasket keep electing a bomb-thrower like the congressman from Iowa's 5th Congressional District.

That they regard him as "normal" enough to represent them, and see Democrats as unfit.

What Democrats have to ask themselves is why they are so alienated from normal Midwestern folk -- angry, fearful, marginally knee-jerk and increasingly deluded folk, to be sure, but not particularly lunatic ones. Dismissing folks like Steve King's Iowa voters, deriding them as bigots and nuts, may be satisfying for the Democratic base, but it still amounts to pissing in the wind.

The difficult question that some Democrats need to ask themselves, but won't, isn't
"Why is everybody but us so crazy?" The pertinent question, instead, is "Why do people find us significantly more frightening than somebody like Steve King?"

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars . . ." etc., and so on.

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