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Grassley set a standard for politicians

Staying in touch with voters is taken very seriously in Iowa

Many years ago, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley told his constituents that he would stay in close touch with them by visiting every Iowa county at least one time each year. Since his initial election to the Senate in 1980, Iowa’s senior senator has been faithful to that promise.

Grassley takes opportunities to meet and interact with his fellow Iowans very seriously. This Iowa Republican keeps faith with our Founding Fathers’ belief in representative government by spending substantial time listening carefully to what Iowans tell him.

Over the decades, Grassley’s at-least-once-a-year visit to each of our state’s 99 counties has set a standard that most Iowa politicians have come to embrace. Just about anyone who wants to be accepted by Iowa’s voters emulates Grassley’s approach. In political circles, candidates or officeholders who follow his lead are said to be committing themselves to “doing the full Grassley.”

Within the last few days, Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, both Republicans, have just announced that they have completed their 2019 visits to all Iowa counties. Reynolds has done this three times since becoming governor and was similarly dedicated to these meetings with her fellow Iowans as lieutenant governor. Ernst has been dedicated to this project since becoming the state’s junior senator.

“There’s no better way to represent my fellow Iowans than to be out meeting with and hearing directly from you,” Ernst said. “That’s why, since first serving in the U.S. Senate, I’ve remained committed to completing my 99 County Tour every year and to regularly holding open and public town halls.”

And it isn’t just Iowa Republicans who have been inspired and motivated by the high voter-communication standard Grassley has set. During recent campaigns, some of both parties’ presidential contenders have made similar pledges to make stops in each Iowa county as they have sought support in Iowa’s presidential caucuses.

Opinion polls routinely show that many Americans are unimpressed with the quality of the people elected to serve in high offices. Many believe that most of the men and women who occupy these posts have lost touch with the folks back home.

Grassley’s frequent trips back to Iowa help counter that disillusionment. He shows up where we live and listens to what we say. That other politicians following of his example and making efforts to improve communication with constituents is a hopeful development.

The Messenger commends those officeholders who recognize that staying in touch with the people who elected them is an important part of doing the job to which they were elected.