It will take more than strongly worded statements to fight the Republican congressman's open white nationalism.
Three House Democrats either have introduced or will soon introduce legislation to officially condemn the openly racist Rep. Steve King (R-IA) — whom Republicans have only now begun to speak out against, after years of supporting him as a GOP House member in good standing.
King has been infamously racist for years, but he faced particularly intense backlash recently after telling the New York Times, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"
Reps. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) have called for a formal censure of King, the most severe punishment for members of Congress other than expulsion from the body.
Ryan's legislation called King's comments "abhorrent to the founding principles of our nation."
"Steve King’s pattern of despicable comments harken back to the dark days of American history where his rabid, racist remarks would have been acceptable to a significant portion of our nation," Rush said in a statement.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the majority whip, is the most prominent Democrat to move to reprimand the Republican congressman. Clyburn told the Washington Post that his legislation is in part tied to the 90th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birth, "We've got to break our silence on these kinds of things."
A few Republicans have also come forward to rebuke King's comments in recent days — but it's ultimately too little, too late.
Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said King's comments have "no place in the Republican Party, the Congress or the country for an ideology of racial supremacy of any kind."
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), who is black, said, "When people with opinions similar to King’s open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole."
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) promised that "action will be taken" to address King, but was not specific about what that action would be.
It will take more than strongly worded statements for Republicans to escape their association with King's racism.
If anything, the Republican Party has come to embrace more and more of King's racism in the last decade — which reached a tipping point when the party decided to throw its support behind Trump.
McConnell, Scott, and McCarthy have all regularly locked arms with Trump, despite his description of neo-Nazis as "very fine people" and his constant demonization of Latino immigrants and Muslims.
And it turns out that many of Trump's racist ideas about immigration policy are carbon copies of ideas Steve King has been pushing for years.
King has espoused even more openly racist and white nationalist ideas than Trump for years — yet he never suffered a loss of power or influence within the Republican Party as a result.
No matter what Republicans may say or do now after King's most recent embarrassment, their record is clear.
Republicans were quite fine with King's racism as long as they thought they could use it to get ahead. And now that it's blowing up in their face, they will own the fallout for not rejecting it right away.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.