fresh voices from the front lines of change







My name is Kaleb Van Fosson, and I’m a student at Iowa State University in Ames. I’m a political science major, and an active member of Iowa Student Action. I’m also a registered voter in Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District, so my representative in Congress is Steve King. That’s a problem for me, because Steve’s a racist.

So when I heard King was planning to meet constituents at an event hosted by the Greater Des Moines Partnership, I decided, as a voter, to go and ask him a couple of questions. That when things got REALLY interesting.

Steve King is a problem because on Saturday, there was a shooting at the Tree Of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh that killed eleven innocent people. King has endorsed white supremacist views and candidates, and even traveled to Austria to meet with a group founded by a former Nazi SS officer.

King has been quoted as saying “We can’t restore our civilization with other people’s babies.” The rhetoric he espouses is completely in line with the ideology and rhetoric voiced by the Pittsburgh shooter.

While Steve King didn’t pull a trigger, he’s definitely contributing to the culture of white supremacy and bigotry. He’s fueling the flames with hate that’s growing in our country.

I think it it’s important for ordinary folks like me to stand up to white supremacist views like King’s, before they enter the mainstream. Steve King is Iowans’ representative in Congress. He represents the people of this district.

He’s supposed to be holding views that are the views of his constituents, which reflect the values of Iowa’s Fourth District, and of the American people. And if the views Steve King holds become accessible in the mainstream, I think that’s really terrifying.

So my first question for King in Des Moines was, “What distinguishes your views and your ideology from the views and ideology of the shooter?”

King hit the roof - and refused to answer my question. He said, “You get no questions, and you get no answer – you’re done!”

So I asked him why he’d traveled to Austria to meet with white supremacists. His answer? “We don’t play these games here in Iowa.”

So finally, I asked him, “Do you identify as a white supremacist?” His answer? “Stop it!” Then he demanded that I be removed from the room.

That’s odd. It seems to me that the right answer to that question should always be a simple “No.”

There’s a long history in this country of white supremacy – indeed, it goes back to our Founding Fathers. It looked for a long time like things were getting better. But it seems now like a lot of people still have these beliefs, but were keeping them quiet. And now that Donald Trump and Steve King are becoming more bold with their rhetoric, other people who also hold these beliefs are now emboldened, are more verbal and open with what they believe.

I’m definitely going to vote next Tuesday. It’s important because it’s democracy – our democracy. Your vote is your way of giving your say in the election. We don’t get to vote on every bill in Congress, but you do get to vote on who goes to Congress to represent you.

I understand people who don’t vote, because it’s really easy to look at what’s going on in this country and feel like there’s no way it can make a difference. But at the end of the day, it does. You might say, “Oh, it’s just one vote” - but there are a lot of people who aren’t voting, who if they DID vote, all those people together would make a huge difference.

This is especially true when a race is close, as is the case now with Steve King. According to recent polls, he was only one point ahead, with a margin of error of four percent, so I’m feeling pretty optimistic. I feel like there’s a chance here to get him out of Washington.

Every person’s vote matters, and that’s where we can all stand up, when we vote. No one’s vote is worth more than anyone else’s, but every vote counts – especially now.

Your vote, together with my vote, mean that we can have someone in Congress who actually represents our real values, who represents what the majority of people want – in Iowa and all across this country: working for a society where people care about each other, and where we’re not divided by races.

Rep. King, you told me, “We don’t play these games here in Iowa.” What game are you talking about - democracy? I’m an Iowan. And I vote. Rep. King, If you can’t, or won’t, answer important questions like these from constituents like me, it’s time for you to find another game to play.


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