By Katie Allen
What does a constituent want in an elected official? How about a Twitter account that is updated frequently with volleyball stats from Northern Iowa? Or play-by-plays of the town meetings he visits? Or even updates on his way home from meetings when he and his driver may have hit a deer? Or our personal favorite, one who uses unique grammar. (See Twitter Page)
If any of you answered yes to any of the above (or even if you didn’t), the elected official you are looking for is Senator Grassley from Iowa. He has been known and respected across party lines for his ability to work with longtime, now-retired Democratic Senator Harkin. He is also known for interacting with and truly being connected to his constituents, while being exceptionally personable.
While visiting with Grassley’s staff today, we heard exactly how personable he really is. The staff stressed that Grassley is adamant that they are part of his family. He goes above and beyond to make sure that although they must be accountable, he does not want to bother them during their family time. This is something that could be considered rare on the Hill because of the pressure upon elected officials to always be on top of their game.
One of his staff members described him as “the perfect mix,” of two extremes in the capital. He was not talking about the party labels, but rather defining the two extremes as elected officials who do everything on their own and those who do nothing alone. Senator Grassley has been known to try to hire people smarter than him, definitely avoiding the title of the “know it all” (even if he may actually know it all). He also has been around long enough that he does not feel compelled to run every single action past his advisers, which may or may not be why we see so many interesting tweets.
Someone who is the perfect mix of both of these is arguably exactly what our Congress needs more of. Grassley has worked across party lines, specifically with Harkin. His staff cited the floods of 2008 in Iowa. They sat down together for hours at a time to come to common ground solutions for their state.
Together, they became a model of what our 114th Congress should be. Alone, Grassley is the ideal senator. He reflects Iowa values, he listens to his constituents (meeting with anyone who comes into his office, on a first come, first served basis), and works across party lines to solve problems.
After a week-long look at bipartisanship, it is refreshing to be reminded that bipartisanship is possible.