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Grassely Q & A: elections matter

November 2, 2018
With U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley - R-Iowa , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Q: What is fundamental to our system of self-government?

A: The number one check on government "of, by and for" the people is the ballot box.

In 1776, the nation's founders issued a clarion call for freedom with the Declaration of Independence, listing dozens of grievances against King George III that paved the way for our system of self-government.

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U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

One of the first civics lessons students learn in the classroom is the American colonists' rallying cry: "No taxation without representation." The charter of freedom that established the framework for our current electoral system was ratified in 1788 and the U.S. Constitution became the supreme law of the land in 1789.

The founders divided Congress into a bicameral legislature, often called the "people's branch" with elected representatives held accountable to voters at the ballot box. Members of the House of Representatives serve two-year terms with congressional districts apportioned according to each state's population. On the other side of the U.S. Capitol, each state is represented by two elected senators who serve six-year terms.

Every two years, all 435 members of the House are up for re-election, as well as one-third of the U.S. Senate. Voting at the ballot box holds office holders accountable for their votes in Congress.

Another important way is through dialogue. I often remind Iowans that representative government is a two-way street. It's one of the reasons I hold a meeting in every county, at least once, every year. Keeping in touch with constituents helps me keep up with what's on the minds of Iowans. From health care to immigration and taxes, keeping open all lanes of communication informs my decisions on public policy that matter to Iowans.

In this era of heated political rhetoric, it's important for people across the political spectrum to keep check on the temperature of their words and actions. Freedom of speech and peaceful assembly are sacred rights of citizenship. But we are way too near the boiling point when acts of political violence make their way into our civic life.

Our American way of life is deeply rooted in mutual respect for our neighbors. We ought to be able to talk about issues with civility and respect for different points of view. For example, during the recent confirmation hearings for Justice Kavanaugh, extremists schemed to derail the proceedings with unprecedented tactics of mob rule.

Unfortunately, it wasn't America's finest hour of civility. Political violence, such as recent death threats and pipe bombs mailed to elected officials and prominent political figures, have absolutely no place in our society. In our system of self-government, we solve our problems and resolve disagreements at the ballot box.

Every voter has a right and a responsibility to cast a ballot in the 2018 midterm elections. It is the most effective, responsible way to ensure government is run "of, by and for" the people.



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