02:42 - Source: CNN
House passes resolution rebuking Rep. King's racist comments

Editor’s Note: LZ Granderson is a journalist and political analyst. He was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago and the Hechinger Institute at Columbia University, and is a co-host of ESPN’s “SportsNation” and ESPN LA 710’s “Mornings With Keyshawn, LZ and Travis.” Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @lzgranderson. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. View more opinion articles on CNN.

CNN  — 

I don’t particularly care if the majority of Americans find the latest comments from US Rep. Steven King, an Iowa Republican, to be racist. I don’t care how his comments affect the Republican Party, or who is calling for his resignation, or even if he is eventually forced to resign.

While it is certainly unnerving to see a member of Congress quoted in a news article questioning why the term “white supremacist” is offensive, the truth is King has been making – and then later “clarifying” – comments of this nature repeatedly over the years.

Last fall, the Anti-Defamation League asked then-House Speaker Paul Ryan to censure King for doing things such as endorsing foreign politicians linked to neo-Nazi groups. Two years ago, King tweeted his support of Geert Wilders, a Dutch anti-Islam politician, saying Wilders “understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

So forgive me if I’m not overly impressed with the “swiftness” in which House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy denied King committee assignments following the congressman’s most recent episode, because I’m still wondering why he still had those assignments in the first place.

What does matter to me is whether or not the nearly 600,000 citizen voters of Iowa’s 4th Congressional District believe King represents them. Considering he’s been in the House since 2003, in some ways we have our answer. But I’m willing to give the voters the benefit of the doubt because many people on both sides of the aisle are on partisan autopilot. They’re Democrats so they vote Democratic, or Republicans so they vote Republican, regardless of the actions of the incumbent. Happens all of the time. But this is different. King is different.

Grand speeches and proclamations make for good television. His resignation would be a significant moment. But if the constituents who have voted for King since he was first elected to the Iowa state Senate in 1996 share his views, then King could well be replaced by someone equally as vile but significantly more cautious with his or her tongue.

Get our free weekly newsletter

  • Sign up for CNN Opinion’s newsletter.
  • Join us on Twitter and Facebook

    Replacing an overt offender with a more clever one is not a victory for equality. It’s a Band-Aid placed on a mortal wound. Democrats and Republicans alike tend to paint embarrassing stories as one-offs that are not representative of the national party, but this characterization misses the mark. An elected official who has been in office for more than two decades is not a one-off, he’s a mirror. Or at least that’s the assumption.

    And when someone is firmly against multiculturalism and is from a district that is more than 95% white, the assumptions one can make about Iowa’s 4th District are not flattering. King was re-elected with more than 60% of the vote in 2016. He barely eclipsed 50% in 2018. Maybe his constituents have had enough, and, if that’s true, that is the real story.

    So while Sen. Tim Scott’s recent op-ed in The Washington Post rebuking King, and McCarthy’s dressing down of King are encouraging, the only thing that truly matters are the views of his voters. Those won’t go away even if King does.