Senator Chuck Grassley Pretends to Be a Principled Republican. Don’t Buy It.

Senator Chuck Grassley Pretends to Be a Principled Republican. Don’t Buy It.

Senator Chuck Grassley Pretends to Be a Principled Republican. Don’t Buy It.

The Iowa senator has played “Aw-Shucks” Chuck for too long. It’s time to get him out of office.


Iowa’s family farmers are working harder than ever during this deadly pandemic. We’re trying to keep our families and communities safe. We’re collaborating with our neighbors, and we’re finding innovative solutions to the problems we face.

So what are Iowa’s elected officials doing? Well, if you’re Senator Chuck Grassley, you’re going on right-wing talk radio to say things like this: “I’m a farmer, not a lawyer.”

That’s what Grassley had to say about Donald Trump’s Senate trial in a WHO Radio interview. But it doesn’t take a lawyer to see what everyday people already know: There is a clear, common-sense case that Trump must be convicted for inciting the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

In his interview, Grassley tap-danced around Trump’s impeachment. He lied to listeners, claiming that there are reasonable arguments on both sides of the trial (there aren’t) and that Trump’s impeachment isn’t constitutional (it is). A week later, he was asked about white supremacist conspiracy theories in the House of Representatives. Even after Iowa’s other senator condemned these conspiracies as dangerous, all Grassley could muster was: “I have a hard enough time keeping track of what 100 senators are doing, so you’ll have to ask someone that’s followed it better than I have.”

As a Grassley’s constituent, this is an act I’ve seen before: “Aw-Shucks Chuck.” For decades, Grassley has gotten away with lies and bad votes because he pretends to be one of us: a reasonable, everyday farmer who’s just doing his best. He is not.

In reality, Grassley is a multimillionaire career politician whose decades-long tenure at the US Capitol has been marked by attacks on family farms, democracy, and racial justice. While farmers in Iowa are struggling to make ends meet with medical bills we can’t pay, Grassley is living high on the hog, thanks to big-money donors like Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Grassley’s political career began in 1958 when he was first elected to the Iowa Legislature. Since then, he’s consistently put corporate greed ahead of human need and cast votes that uphold economic injustice and white supremacy.

Grassley’s down-home farmer act is undermined by the fact that he stood idly by during the 1980s farm crisis, as Iowans suffered and Big Ag consolidated power. For more than half a century, he has refused to back commonsense legislative solutions that would protect and empower family farmers. In his six-decade political career, I have never heard Grassley say that family farmers need a fair price and farmworkers need a living wage. That’s not the mark of a leader who supports Iowa farmers.

It’s not just farmers who have been affected by Grassley’s legislative malpractice. Grassley voted against establishing the federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. He’s voted multiple times to take health care away from Iowans by repealing the Affordable Care Act, and he voted for the 2008 bank bailout. In 2015, he rejected a plan to restore the Voting Rights Act because, in his words, “more minorities are already voting.”

Before Trump came to power, Grassley had already perfected Trumpian tactics. In 2013, Grassley filed 77 amendments to tank comprehensive immigration reform in an attempt to block a path to citizenship and tear families apart. After Trump’s election, Grassley voted with him nearly 90 percent of the time, including during the Kavanaugh hearings, after which the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault condemned Grassley’s “insensitivity and shameful displays.”

We shouldn’t be surprised that “Aw-Shucks” Chuck voted to dismiss Trump’s conviction on Tuesday, because he isn’t a reasonable farmer or a practical leader. He’s a political opportunist who’s willing to throw anyone under the bus so he can make money and hold power.

If Grassley had principles, he would work to protect democracy, reject white supremacy, and convict Donald Trump for inciting the January 6 attacks on our democracy. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is calling on Grassley to do just that, and you can join us.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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