Friday, January 11, 2019

Jury Is Still Out, Barely


Most Americans are intelligent and (arguably) most American voters are even more intelligent.

Maybe most voters in the State of Iowa are intelligent, even in its 4th congressional district, represented by Steve King, who recently was interviewed by The New York Times:  .

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

Although King later issued a clarification, Charlie Pierce remarked

this revolting lump of hot, bigoted mess has been elected to the Congress nine freaking times. His constituents are racists or they are idiots. (A third alternative is not available at this time.)

They've voted nine times for a fellow who previously graced his office desk with a Confederate flag. (Iowa was not part of the Confederacy.) They've been represented for over 16 years by a fellow who has supported far-right politicians in Europe and been characterized by a neo-Nazi as "basically an open white nationalist at this point."

Racists or idiots, Pierce speculates. In either case, a great lack many harbor sentiments inconsistent with democratic values of tolerance and inclusiveness, or are ill-informed, irrational, and senseless.

The evidence is not only in their endorsement of Steve King.  Although the 4th District is not one of those venerated, celebrated Trump to Obama districts, the electoral turnaround is stunning. In 2008, 53% of its voters opted for Barack Obama and only 45% for John McCain. In 2012 its Democratic/Republican numbers reversed- 53% voted for Mitt Romney and only 45% for Obama. Four years later, the big change came when Donald Trump garnered 61% of the vote and Hillary Clinton only 34%.

In eight years, the percentage of vote given to the GOP- represented by a war hero in 2008 and a draft evader in 2016- went from 45% to 63%.  The district in 2008 rejected this guy in favor of Barack Obama:






Eight years later its voters, favorable to Barack Obama, overwhelmingly repudiated Hillary Clinton and embraced this guy:





There may have been many factors involved in the dramatic uptick in the GOP share of the presidential vote in eight years. However, the starkly different perspective of the two Party's candidates (with Romney, three) is undoubtedly one of them. "Racists or idiots" may be a little harsh. The shoe may not fit exactly, but it's not far off.




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