As will be noted in my article on the subject this week, Iowa's U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley was the only Iowan in Washington to vote against the 2018 Farm Bill. What's more, he didn't seem to hold back much during his remarks on the Senate floor after the vote. He's been particularly focused on cutting government subsidies to large companies who claim "family farm" status and add extended relatives who aren't actually working to their roster. In the past, he's said a government report found such practices cost the taxpayers some $259 million.
"To say I’m disappointed the bill makes more subsidies available to the wealthiest farmers and many non-farmers is a severe understatement," Grassley said. "Especially when the impact of large farmers being allowed to manipulate the system is that young and beginning farmers face even larger hurdles."
The thought behind this panel came after remembering Grassley himself is an Iowan farmer. It wasn't too long a bridge to cross before my feet landed squarely on Grant Woods' "American Gothic," especially in that I think Grassley shares some similar features with Byron McKeeby, the male subject of the painting (if I remember correctly, McKeeby was a dentist). The thing about doing a parody of such a recognizable work of art is that you have to get so many things right or the message falls apart. That said, enough has to be different for your message to come through as well.
After choosing "American Gothic" as the reference image, it only fit to put Grassley next to Iowa's only female U.S. Senator Joni Ernst - who voted for the 2018 Farm Bill along with the rest of Iowa's representation.
Originally, I was going to try and work one of Grassley's actual quotes from the Senate floor into a speech bubble, but that got a bit too pop arty, and the good quotes were frankly all too long. I would have liked to put in the ones about the "dark rooms of conference committees" or the "open-ended spigot of taxpayer subsidies," but 'twas not to be. Rather, I went for an impaled farm bill upon the hay fork in Grassley/McKeeby's hand. As usual, less is often more in editorial cartooning.
This panel was split over two days and took around six or seven hours to complete, simply because of the reference imagery, the facial details and the number of details necessary for a successful parody.
Thanks for reading.