King: ‘I can build that wall down there’5/1/2013
National Republicans are struggling with strategies and angles for the party’s relevancy and viability in the 21st century. Enough with the caterwauling over changing racial and family dynamics, this rather sad coveting of the 1950s, goes the trendy reasoning. Scrapbook photos, no matter how long you stare at them, won’t come alive.
White privilege is dead, the GOP numbers-crunchers implore. The world is as it is, not as diehards want it, realize win-baby Republican poobahs like Reince Priebus and Karl Rove.
Success in future elections means embracing, or at least not insulting, Hispanics, unmarried women and millions of young people who aren’t gay, but have plenty of friends who are — and lean Democratic in no small part because of it.
As of late, the Republicans have something of a reverse Midas Touch with these groups. The party’s political choice: double down in the middle of the demographic tsunami or move to a table with more chips and a playable hand.
Of course, there’s another route. The Republican Party could join the astronomers it so mistrusts in a search for Earth 2.0, a Goldilocks planet in deep space with just the right mix of air and water and habitat for human life. Mitt Romney could light-speed the 2012 Republican Party there where it would be free to build a society based on the teachings of the atheist patron-saint of modern conservatism Ayn Rand. Don Draper, with his defiant cigarettes and boozy musings on the role of women, could take the place of Isaac on this Love Boat lift to Planet of the Lost Party.
But space travel is expensive, even for iron money men like Romney with their car elevators.
The party’s best bet is to find ways to drive around Iowa and Ohio and Colorado and New Mexico with a platform that doesn’t scream antiquity.
And in this endeavor, the party can count on the obstinacy of Congressman Steve King. The national GOP is thinking 2016 and 2020 and 2050 with immigration reform.
Not King. He’s in the 7th century — BC.
As Democrats and Republicans chisel a compromise on immigration reform, King, who once took to the U.S. House floor to demonstrate how an electric fence could dispatch Mexicans, is singing the praises of a wall along our 2,000-mile southern border.
His inspiration: the 5,500-mile Great Wall of China that took shape over centuries.
“I was asked a specific question: ‘We can’t build a 2,000-mile wall, can we?’ That was the question asked by the press,” King told us during a recent interview in Jefferson. “And I said, ‘Of course we can.’ The Great Wall of China is 5,500 miles long, and it was finished over 2,000 years ago.”
Well, Congressman, you were in the construction business. You could probably do more than scale-model a U.S.-Mexico border wall for your colleagues during a special order on the House floor. You could just build it, right?
“Oh yeah, I can build that wall down there,” King quickly shot back.
King, who said he is quite familiar with the Chinese wall, noted that it has gates that open and close and is “so wide on the top that they marched armies down the top of it, including Japanese armies in occupation.”
“I was just pointing out that this is no engineering challenge for Americans,” King said. “That’s why when I was asked, ‘Could you do this?’ my answer was ‘Yes, it’s not a difficult thing from an engineering or design or construction standpoint.’ ”
But should the United States build such a wall?
“What I’ve said is we need to extend the existing fence we have,” King said. “And I would redesign it myself. But some of it’s pretty good.” CV
Douglas Burns, a co-owner of The Carroll Daily Times Herald, is a fourth-generation Iowa journalist who offers columns for Cityview.