Iowa Rep. Steve King
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

It’s encouraging that the editors at the National Review want the Republican Party to Dump Steve King over his indisputably racist attitudes. This indicates some progress from an organization that has hardly been known heretofore for its enlightenment on racial issues.

However, if you look carefully at their argument, they’re primarily worried that Steve King is hurting the broader effort to limit immigration.

King tars all conservatives with his irresponsibility. See, for example, the New York Times article in which his comments appear, which says that King’s views on immigration “now carry substantial influence on the right.” The story cites as evidence King’s longtime advocacy for a border wall and his focus on the dangers of untrammeled migration through the southern border. But he doesn’t own the idea of border fencing, which was firmly within the mainstream of both political parties less than two decades ago. He was not instrumental in the passage of the Secure Fence Act. Nor did he propel immigration to the fore in American politics. There’s a vast gulf between King’s racial demagogy and the sober-minded advocacy of a more sensible immigration regime that balances the national interest with humanitarian concerns. King’s alleged influence on the right, then, shouldn’t be overstated.

Even more problematic is their “solution.” They oppose the effort to censure King, and their preferred remedy is simply to have the NRCC back a primary challenger. That’s hardly a dumping.

If the Republicans want to disown Rep. King, they should kick him out of their caucus. That would begin by stripping him of all his committee assignments and it would include denying him entry into any of their caucus meetings. That would still fall short of moving to expel him from Congress entirely, but it would be the minimum required to demonstrate that he’s not welcome in their party.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at