TheBlaze will feature regular interviews with newsmakers that we think would be of interest to our readers. As part of this ongoing series, we sat down Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
Grassley is currently the second longest-serving senator at 37 years and five months, after Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) who is retiring at the end of the year.
Grassley is currently the chairman on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a member of the Senate Finance, Budget, Agriculture, and Joint Tax Committees. He is also the chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control and the co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth.
Senator, you’ve voiced your displeasure before with the History channel. If you could be in charge of the History Channel’s content, what’s one hypothetical show that you would add to its lineup?
My beef with the History channel is that its programming doesn’t measure up to its name. Like most Americans, I find there’s never enough hours in the day to fit in everything. Iowans don’t like to waste anything. That includes food, time, or money. I love history. So, it’s frustrating to turn to the History channel and find content that’s anything but history. With programming like “Swamp People” and “Ancient Aliens,” the History channel has lost its identity. I’d like to see the network bring back genuine historical programming to its lineup.
As far as specific content, I’d recommend a documentary series on the history of American agriculture that could explore our agrarian heritage passed down from the nation’s founders to pioneers on the frontier to 21st century farmers. From one generation to the next, Americans who earn their livelihoods in Rural America to feed and fuel the world enjoy a way of life to which fewer and fewer Americans have a first-hand connection. In fact, consider the Iowa State Fair that wrapped up recently with record-breaking attendance. Imagine a documentary series on America’s State Fairs that highlight advances in agriculture, technology, and innovation to feed and fuel a growing economy and global population. In fact, a feature on Iowa’s native son Norman Borlaug would be another great way to dig into the history of agriculture and its impact on food production and famine. He’s one of only seven people to have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and the Nobel Peace Prize. Mr. Borlaug’s agronomic discoveries are credited with saving a billion people from starvation and his visionary leadership led to the creation of the World Food Prize.
You’ve tweeted about the 19th century bathtubs in the Capitol and other historic Capitol facts as an alternative to the current lack of historical content on the History channel. What do you think is the most interesting historical fact you’ve learned about the Capitol during your time as a senator?
As a farmer from Iowa, I once raised hogs to bring home the bacon. Ironically, I now work where the sausage is being made on Capitol Hill. Both vocations share an occupational hazard from time to time that may require plugging one’s nose to get the job done. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tremendous honor to participate in meetings at the White House and to work in the U.S. Capitol. Since Congress relocated to Jenkins’ Hill on Nov. 17, 1800, major decisions affecting war and peace and policy and politics have taken place here for more than two centuries.
Even though I’ve walked the polished stone corridors and among the marble columns since 1975, the glow of the Capitol dome is always an inspiring symbol of the sacred freedoms of our republic. The Capitol rotunda is often described as the “symbolic and physical heart” of the U.S. Capitol. The Senate and House chambers are connected to the north and south of the Rotunda, respectively. Not many people may know President George Washington laid the first cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol 13 years after America’s independence on Sept. 18, 1793. He placed an inscribed silver plate under the cornerstone at the southeast corner of the building. Corn, wine, and oil were used to consecrate the stone. I’m told there was a parade, marching bands, speeches, and a 500-pound roasted ox for all to enjoy. To this day, efforts and excavations to locate the silver plate have been unsuccessful.
Last History channel question: In the spirit of fairness to the channel, has there been any program that you’ve watched on it lately that you enjoyed?
The last time I enjoyed the History channel was on the Fourth of July when it aired programming on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and early American history. I wish it wasn’t hard to find real history on the so-called History channel. I’ve suggested the network ought to change its name to Un-History or restore its original programming. Disenchanted History viewers are invited to follow my #realhistorychannel on my Instagram account. There’s plenty of reality TV streaming elsewhere 24/7. I’m for History sticking to history, in case there’s any doubt.
You are known for doing your own tweeting and for using Twitter frequently. What’s your favorite thing to tweet about?
Since first joining the social media platform in 2007, I embraced Twitter as a good way for U kno what: to have unfiltered communication with Iowans. In addition to posting #realhistorychannel content, I started a weekly #cornwatch series of tweets earlier this year to educate more than 218,000 followers about the life cycle of corn. Less than two percent of Americans works directly on a farm. As a champion for agriculture and Rural America, I’ll seize every opportunity available to support the people who feed and fuel the world. If it will help get my point across, including the President of the United States or other members of Congress, I tweet it!
Are there any other accounts on Twitter that you enjoy reading tweets from?
I don’t spend a lot of time reading my Twitter feed. I can tell you that reporters follow @realDonaldTrump’s Twitter feed like it’s the gospel. Along with other senators, I’m asked on a very regular basis to comment on his tweets.
Before you entered politics, you worked in factories and on farms in Iowa. Was there anything from that experience that you still apply to your work as a senator today?
Without a doubt. Years ago, I held down three jobs to put food on the table for my growing family of five children. I’ve carried that Iowa-bred work ethic with me to the United States Senate. I was named the hardest working member of Congress and am the longest serving U.S. senator from the state of Iowa. I also hold the longest voting streak in the history of the U.S. Senate with a 25-year record of not missing a vote. I haven’t missed a roll call vote since 1993 when I toured flood damage in Iowa with President Clinton. By year’s end, I will complete another “streak” with 38 consecutive years of holding at least one meeting with Iowans in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. People can follow #99countymeetings to keep tabs on what’s on the minds of Iowans. I’m hard-wired to work. That’s how I’ve approached public service for the last five decades.
What do you think is your biggest accomplishment during your time in the Senate, or the thing of which you’re most proud?
I’m committed to listening to Iowans, helping cut red tape for them in the federal bureaucracy and fighting for government accountability. It’s a priority to be accessible to constituents and to reporters who are doing their job to hold elected officials accountable. I also value the bipartisan working relationships I have with lawmakers across the political spectrum and that the relationships are based on trust built with candor and reliability. As far as legislation, my whistleblower amendments to the False Claims Act protect taxpayers from fraud and have recovered nearly $60 billion to the federal treasury. My yearslong effort to secure passage of the Congressional Accountability Act requires Congress to abide by the workplace laws we enact for Main Street. As with my work on the farm and in the factory, productivity is what counts. Keeping my word, getting results and solving problems for Iowans matters most to me.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about you?
It’s never too late to start something new. I started jogging for the first time in my life at age 65. And I’ve kept it up for two decades. I also celebrate my birthday on Sept. 17, Constitution Day. Every year I get to add another birthday candle to my cake, I also give thanks for the freedom and liberty enshrined in America’s founding charter.
What’s your favorite thing about your home state?
Iowans are known for being “Iowa Nice.” Earlier this year, Iowa ranked as the No. 1 state to live in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The coastal elites like to refer to our neck of the woods as “flyover country.” That’s their loss if ignorance or arrogance keeps them from enjoying what Iowa has to offer. Although Iowa ranked as the best place to live in 2018, we scored the lowest on a 50-state survey asking Iowans to rank our state’s contribution to overall history in the United States. This tells me Iowans don’t suffer egocentricity. But it wouldn’t hurt to toot our own horn more often. When you consider the remarkable contributions Iowa has made to the arts and sciences, technology, medicine, agribusiness and government, it doesn’t square with reality. But it does reflect the intrinsic “Iowa Nice” that runs through our veins. We aren’t steeped in narcissism. We are rooted in our efforts to build strong communities, strong schools and strong families. From education to health care, infrastructure and the economy, Iowa is the best place on Earth to call home.