By Crystal Defatte
Republican Rep. Steve King (IA) was recently quoted as blaming former President Obama, in part, for the divided political climate that King claims led to the shooting attack on elected officials in Alexandria, VA. The attack, carried out by a former volunteer for the Sanders presidential campaign, resulted in the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and three Congressional staffers.
“I do want to put some of this at the feet of Barack Obama,” the Iowa congressman said in an interview with Simon Conway on WHO Iowa radio. “He contributed mightily to dividing us. He focused on our differences rather than our things that unify us. And this is some of the fruits of that labor.”
Perhaps King is referring to Obama cutting the unemployment rate from 10% to 4.7% and passing the $787 billion America Recovery and Reinvestment Act to spur economic growth. Certainly, this must have divided those who were “happily unemployed”, losing their homes and savings to the Great Recession, and those who were grateful to go back to work.
Maybe King was referring to signing the ACA, which provided insurance to 20 million previously uninsured Americans. I can imagine many in King’s circle were quite upset that these poor people wouldn’t just get sick and die already.
Or was it the killing of Osama bin Laden that left America divided? I’m sure many on the right were sad that this “Kenyan Muslim” would get the credit for killing the most infamous of all terrorists.
I have a sneaking suspicion it had more to do with Obama’s support of marriage equality and his disdain for discrimination cloaked in the guise of religious freedom. I have a feeling it has something to do with Obama expanding embryonic stem cell research that lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer and spinal cord injuries. Heaven forbid something good come from the “evil” act of abortion. Considering how King feels about Hispanic people, I’m sure he feels nominating one (Sonia Sotomayor) to the Supreme Court was pretty divisive as well; not to mention his signing of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, allowing as many as 5 million people living in the U.S. illegally to avoid deportation and receive work permits. Yes, I can see how this would be divisive to a man of Steve King’s character.
When asked whose responsibility it was to “shut down the crazy” elements of American politics and how to do so, King replied with:
“Our whole society and culture has to come together on this, and those are just not platitudes on my part. I’m saying we’ve got leaders out there that can help pull us together but in the end, it traces back to our families, to our fathers, to our mothers, to good examples, to the right things being said around the kitchen table, in the living room, in church, and in school. And if the culture is gonna be divided, it’s been divided core back to there. And if it’s gonna be united, it’s gotta be united all the way back to the principle subsidiarity, which I speak to occasionally, as close to the individual and as close to the people that’s close to the individual, which means family first, is where it needs to be.”
Interesting that he speaks of our whole society and culture when he has such little appreciation for it. He believes our immigrants are nothing but drug mules, stating that “for everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
He certainly doesn’t appreciate them adding to our population, as he’s stated that “You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies. You’ve got to keep your birth rate up, and that you need to teach your children your values. In doing so, you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture, and you can strengthen your way of life.”
He doesn’t appreciate the diversity our culture has that makes it the beautiful tapestry that it is, as evidenced by his statement, “If you go down the road a few generations, or maybe centuries, with the inter-marriage, I’d like to see an America that is just so homogenous that we look a lot the same.”
He believes that “this whole ‘white people’ business, though, does get a little tired…I mean, I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”
He speaks of “family first,” yet the only type of family he sees as legitimate is the kind that includes a married, heterosexual couple, ignoring the millions of American families that are single parent or have LGBTQ+ parents.
If Obama is to blame for the current political climate, then surely Rep. King is as well. Anyone who is so willing to discount and dismiss such a large portion of the population is certainly reaping division. Anyone looking to assign blame to anyone but the shooter in order to gain political points is being divisive. Anyone who is happier to assign blame than to put forth ideas on how to stop future attacks is divisive. Steve King, maybe you shouldn’t throw that word around, for you are its very definition.
Crystal is a 32 year old mom with a passion for progressive politics and activism. She currently resides in Bettendorf, IA.