ANNOUNCER [narration]: THIS IS NEED TO KNOW WITH … JEFF GREENFIELD … MARIA HINOJOSA. SCOTT SIMON AND RAY SUAREZ. ON THIS EDITION… WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION NOW ONLY DAYS AWAY… WE’LL TAKE YOU TO IOWA, ONE OF THE NATION’S MOST CLOSELY CONTESTED STATES.
THERE LIKE EVERYWHERE ELSE THE ECONOMY REMAINS A CONCERN.
SOT: They never talk about the lower class or the people who are in poverty. They only talk about middle class and upper class.
ANNOUNCER [narration]: BUT IOWA’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS WAY BELOW THE JUST ANNOUNCED NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE OF 7.9 PERCENT.
SO MANY WOMEN IN IOWA’S CATHOLIC COMMUNITIES ARE FOCUSED ON SOCIALS ISSUE – LIKE BIRTH CONTROL AND ABORTION…
SOT: For those who are not married, abstinence may sound old fashioned but it works.
SOT: It’s their bodies. So they should do what they want to do with it.
ANNOUNCER [narration]: MAIN STREET AMERICA. NEXT ON NEED TO KNOW.
JOHN LARSON: Welcome to “Need to Know”, Thanks for joining us. I’m John Larson reporting tonight from Main Street in Dubuque, Iowa.
For months now, we’ve been bombarded with more political advertising than ever in American history — candidates hoping to convince us that they understand Main Street, that they know what’s best for Main Street, or that they speak for Main Street.
About a year ago we thought, what would happen if we asked Americans who actually live on Main Street to speak for themselves? What would they tell us about the realities of living or working on any of America’s Main Streets?
We’ve come to Dubuque because Iowa is a swing state — its 6 electoral votes are still considered within reach by both presidential campaigns.
There’s a couple of things you should know about Dubuque – One, it’s sometimes called “Little Rome” – because it is so Catholic that it’s a barometer for the critical Catholic vote, nationwide.
And two, while the economy’s really pretty good here, unemployment is low, the opinions of people on Dubuque’s Main Street are both wide and varied, and they’re happy to share them with you if you take the time to listen.
RAY WALDBILLIG: Our– our current president, he says, “Well, give me four more years and I’ll do this and I’ll do that.” Well, wait a second. You said that the first time. And you did nothing.
JOHN RETTENMEIER: When Obama came in it was pretty ugly.
NICK HEIAR: Yeah, I understand that.
JOHN RETTENMEIER: Bush had– you know, whatever.
NICK HEIAR: Yeah, he came into a tough time but it’s still– there’s four years from–
JOHN RETTENMEIER: He knew it when he was goin’ in there.
NICK HEIAR: And– yeah, exactly. Don’t take the job if you can’t handle the job.
GREG SWIFT: Now you’re more of a democrat… –see I– see I used to be a Democrat, then I went Republican.. now I’m Tea Party..
JOHN LARSON [narration]: JUST A SHORT HIKE UP A FLIGHT OF STAIRS, OVER AN OFFICE SUPPLY STORE IS DUBUQUE LANES, A SIX LANE BOWLING ALLEY AT 1029 MAIN STREET. – TONIGHT IS LEAGUE NIGHT, AND “SCHROBY’S TAX SERVICE” IS TAKING IT TO “COPS R US”. DRINK OF CHOICE? BEER. THE TALK? POLITICS.
GREG SWIFT: Stop the bickering.
TOM PARKER: Well, I hear you–
GREG SWIFT: And if they can’t do that then they should quit–
TOM PARKER: They got– you know–
GREG SWIFT: –and let someone in there that’s gonna do the job.
TOM PARKER : Well, I mean– you get some Republicans in there two years ago that– in Congress that say, “Hey, our job is to make sure Barack Obama doesn’t get reelected. That’s all we’re focusing on.”
JOHN LARSON [narration]: WHILE THE ELECTION IS JUST DAYS AWAY, THESE ARE THE TYPE OF CONVERSATIONS TAKING PLACE UP AND DOWN DUBUQUE’S MAIN STREET ON A FULL RANGE OF NATIONAL ISSUES.
SOT: They never talk about the lower class or the people who are in poverty. They only talk about middle class and upper class. Why aren’t they talkin’ about them?
JOHN LARSON [narration]: JUST A FEW DOORS FROM THE BOWLING ALLEY AT JITTERZ CAFE THE TALK AT THIS TABLE: THE ECONOMY.
MAN 1: There are so many more millions of people now on food stamps versus where they were four years ago. Why are so many women losing their jobs?
MAN 2: That’s the general economy that’s bad. It’s just that simple. I just don’t think that’s Obamas’ fault, that’s Congress’ fault as far as I’m concerned.
Music: Do you remember me?….
JOHN LARSON[narration]: LET’S LISTEN TO DUBUQUE’S OWN JEN GLOEKNER, WHO WE ASKED TO JOIN US ON DOWN ON MAIN STREET, AS WE TELL YOU A LITTLE MORE ABOUT HER TOWN OF ALMOST 60 THOUSAND PEOPLE, TUCKED HARD ON THE BANKS OF THE MISSISSIPPI.
UNLIKE MUCH OF THE COUNTRY – THE ECONOMY IN IOWA HAS BEEN STRONG. UNEMPLOYMENT IN DUBUQUE IS ONLY 3.7 PERCENT, JOHN DEERE HAS EXPANDED ITS OPERATIONS HERE, AND IBM RECENTLY ARRIVED BRINGING MORE THAN A THOUSAND NEW JOBS. BUT, IT WASN’T ALWAYS THIS WAY. DUBUQUE WAS KNOWN FOR ITS MILLS IN THE EARLY 1900’S AND MEAT PACKING PLANTS UNTIL THE 1980’S. WHEN THOSE INDUSTRIES ABANDONED THE CITY, STRANDING DUBUQUE WITH THE HIGHEST UNEMPLOYMENT IN AMERICA: 23 PERCENT. BUT DUBUQUE SUCCESSFULLY DIVERSIFIED, ITS ONCE DECAYING MAIN STREET IS NOW – VERY MUCH BACK ON ITS FEET.
JEN GLOECKNER (music) : I cherish everything, everything I see, cherish everything I see…
JOHN LARSON[narration]: BUT HERE’S THE THING, WHILE NATIONAL REPORTING TENDS TO FOCUS AND SIMPLIFY HOW PEOPLE RESPOND TO ONE ISSUE OR ANOTHER, WE FOUND OPINIONS ON THIS MAIN STREET TO BE DIVERSE AND COMPLEX ON A WIDE RANGE OF ISSUES – TAKE THE SUBECT OF GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS, FOR EXAMPLE:
CLARK WOLF: I probably lean a little more to the Republican side because I want less government.
CLARK WOLFF: Original barricades, that barricade there goes back about 30- well, 38 years.”
JOHN LARSON [narration]: CLARK WOLF OWNS SAFETY EQUIPMENT AND LEASING – AT 15 SOUTH MAIN. HE LEASES MANY OF THE BARRICADES, AND SAFETY SIGNS YOU SEE AS YOU DRIVE THE HIGHWAYS OUTSIDE DUBUQUE . BUT DESPITE HIS INTEREST IN SHRINKING GOVERNMENT, HIS BUSINESS WAS CREATED AND HAS THRIVED BECAUSE OF THE THOUSANDS OF GOVERNMENT RULES AND REGULATIONS.
CLARK WOLFF: Regulations. Rules and regulations the name of the game.
JOHN LARSON: Your business. It’s created by regulations. You’re surrounded by regulations.
CLARK WOLFF: Correct.
JOHN LARSON: Good news or bad news?
CLARK WOLFF: Well, good and bad. There’s a balancing point. I think the balancing point is tippin’ over hindrances to businesses instead of helping businesses.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: WHICH, ODDLY ENOUGH, WOLFF ALSO KNOWS ALOT ABOUT.
CLARK WOLFF: This is the original door handle, right here which is 110 years old.
JOHN LARSON: worked just fine?
CLARK WOLFF: Works just fine.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: WOLFF ASLO OWNS THE PEPPERSPROUT RESTAURANT AT 378 MAIN STREET, – HE SPENT HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS RENOVATING THIS HISTORIC BUILDING. EVERYTHING WAS FINE, UNTIL THE CITY SAID THE BUILDING NEEDED TO BE 100 PERCENT COMPLIANT WITH THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITY ACT – GOVERNMENT RULES AND REGULATIONS DESIGNED TO MAKE SURE DISABLED AMERICANS HAVE ACCESS TO PUBLIC PLACES.
JOHN LARSON: So you got something against Americans with disabilities?
CLARK WOLFF: No No No, they’re some of our best customers.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: ACCORDING TO THE REGULATIONS, HIS DOOR WAS A HALF INCH TOO NARROW, HIS TOILET FLUSHED FROM THE WRONG SIDE, AND HE SHOULD TEAR UP THE NEW SIDEWALK AND BUILD A DIFFERENT RAMP, EVEN THOUGH WOLFF SAYS THE OLD RAMP HAD ALREADY BEEN APPROVED.
CLARK WOLFF: At some point you gotta say enough is enough.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: THAT’S WHEN, ACCORDING TO NEWSPAPER HEADLINES, CLARK THREATENED TO CLOSE THE RESTAURANT, AND WHEN HE WAS SUMMONED TO COURT ABOUT IT, HE REFUSED TO GO THROUGH SECURITY.
CLARK WOLFF: I says, “Guys, go tell the judge I– I just can’t make it.”
JOHN LARSON: Right.
CLARK WOLFF: And I left. But I got charged with contempt of court.
JOHN LARSON: So, now you’re an outlaw?
CLARK WOLFF: I’m an outlaw. Yeah.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: BY THE WAY, TWO DAYS AFTER OUR INTERVIEW WOLFF TOLD THE JUDGE HE WOULD PERFORM ALL THE CHANGES THE CITY REQUIRED,
CLARK WOLFF: And we’re hoping that everything, everybody lives happily ever after.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: ALL ALONG MAIN STREET, WE FOUND VOTERS WITH NUANCED POSITIONS LIKE WOLFF’S. WE LISTENED TO – WOMEN VOTERS AND CATHOLICS, – TWO CRITICAL VOTING BLOCKS THAT MAY VERY WELL DECIDE THE ELECTION IN A SWING STATE LIKE IOWA. ONCE AGAIN, MANY SHARED MIXED MOTIVATIONS – ESPECIALLY ABOUT ABORTION, WHICH A RECENT USA/GALLOP POLL REPORTS IS THE NUMBER ONE ISSUE AMONG WOMEN IN SWING STATES LIKE IOWA.
MARGIE WILLIAMS: Main Street, America.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: FOR EXAMPLE, 1357 MAIN, MARGIE WILLIAMS SAID SHE IS STRONGLY AGAINST ABORTION BECAUSE ONCE – SHE HAD TO DECIDE WHETHER TO HAVE ONE.
MARGIE WILLIAMS: I’m just– I’m just against abortion. That’s about it.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: THAT DECISION LEAD TO THE BIRTH OF HER DAUGHTER AND EVENTUALLY HER GRANDCHILDREN, INCLUDING A FAT NEW GRANDBABY NAMED NACINE.
MARGIE WILLIAMS: I mean, within the time since he was born, July 27th, he got so fat and juicy.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: BUT NONETHELESS, SHE SUPPORTS A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE.
MARGIE WILLIAMS: It’s their bodies. So, they should be able to do what they wanna do with it. If they wanna– have abortion or not, that’s– should be up to them.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: WILLIAMS IS 60 YEARS OLD, AND AFTER WORKING FOR 45 YEARS, SHE LIVES IN A RENT CONTROLLED APARTMENT ON MAIN AND ON A FIXED INCOME OF GOVERNMENT BENEFITS: 1378 DOLLARS A MONTH. THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE TO HER? PERSERVING FEDERAL PROGRAMS THAT PROTECT THE ELDERLY.
MARGIE WILLIAMS: After me workin’ all these years, puttin’ my money in, payin’ into the system. I don’t want no voucher program. I don’t want no voucher. I don’t want that.
JOHN LARSON: How much do you worry about it?
MARGIE WILLIAMS: I worry about it a lot. I’m livin’ off of just what I can live off of. So, if they take that away from me, what have I gotten? Nothin’.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: JUST HOW STRONGLY WOMEN FEEL ABOUT HEALTH CARE, UNEMPLOYMENT, GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE FOR THE POOR, FOREIGN POLICY , AND OTHER ISSUES AS OPPOSED TO A SINGLE ISSUE LIKE ABORTION MAY BE A DECIDING FACTOR. BUT PERHAPS BECAUSE DUBUQUE IS SO CATHOLIC, WE HEARD A LOT ABOUT ABORTION. POLITICAL ADS HERE FOCUS ON THE ISSUE. ROMNEY ADS SAYING HE IS MORE MODERATE THAN MANY CLAIM.
CAMPIAGN AD: Turns out Romney doesn’t oppose contraception at all. In fact he thinks abortion should be an option in cases of rape, incest or to save a mother’s life.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: THE PRESIDENT’S AD SAYING ROMNEY WOULD STRIP WOMEN’S RIGHTS.
CAMPAIGN AD: Trying to mislead us, that’s wrong. But ban all abortions? Only if you vote for him.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: BUT WHILE THE ADS ARE TIGHTLY FOCUSED WE AGAIN WE FOUND WOMEN HERE WITH MUCH MORE NUANCED THOUGHTS, INCLUDING THE CATHOLIC WOMEN WE MET.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: ONCE VIRTUALLY IN LOCK STEP, CATHOLIC VOTERS THIS YEAR ARE DIVIDED MORE THAN EVER ON SOCIAL ISSUES: BIRTH CONTROL, SAME SEX MARRIAGE, AND ABORTION. AT PICKERMAN’S AT 730 MAIN, WE FOUND A LUNCH CROWD OF IBM-ER’S, BROKERS, AND IN HEIDI HUNTER’S CASE A CATHOLIC WOMAN WHO ‘S A BANKER.
HEIDI HUNTER: Government spending would be the biggest issue for me.
JOHN LARSON: So it’s the size of government spending?
HEIDI HUNTER: Right.
JOHN LARSON: And the deficit?
HEIDI HUNTER: Right.
JOHN LARSON: That worries you?
HEIDI HUNTER: Yup.
JOHN LARSON: In which case, I would imagine it would make you a Romney person.
HEIDI HUNTER: Yes.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: BUT AGAIN, ITS NOT THAT SIMPLE. HUNTER IS PRO CHOICE, 180 DEGREES OFF THE MITT ROMNEY’S POSITION.
JOHN LARSON: And yet you’ll vote for Romney who’s not pro-choice.
HEIDI HUNTER: Right, because it really doesn’t affect me directly, so.
JOHN LARSON: Talk to me about trying to wrestle those two together?
HEIDI HUNTER: Yeah, you just got to think about it. You just got to outweigh, you know, one at a time the issues that you’re most concerned about and go with your…the one that outweighs the other.
PAM STIERMAN: I’m undecided. I don’t know yet.
JOHN LARSON: You are the undecided vote?
PAM STIERMAN: I am.
JOHN LARSON: I know two candidates that would very much like to talk to you.
PAM STIERMAN: Yeah.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: PAM STIERMAN IS ALSO CATHOLIC, AND VERY MUCH PRO-LIFE. BUT SHE’S ALSO A 5 YEAR BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR., AND TORN BY THE CANDIDATE’S HEALTH CARE POLICIES. ON ONE HAND, SHE LIKES GOVERNOR ROMNEY’S THOUGHTS ON HEALTH CARE:
PAM STIERMAN: Well, I have to make sure that—I mean, we don’t want socialized medicine. I mean, I don’t want to wait in line for treatment. That’s, that’s not an option in something like breast cancer. You need to be treated in a timely manner.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: ON THE OTHER HAND, SHE LIKE’S PROVISION OF THE PRESIDENT’S PLAN.
PAM STIERMAN: I don’t want a cap on coverage, because, you know, it’s an expensive disease. Um, I don’t want them to be able to discriminate on pre-existing conditions, if I would have to change insurance. I mean, that’s a major, major expense in someone’s life and I need to make sure that that candidate’s not going to exclude me on those issues.
GROUP PRAYER: Pray for our sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: FOR SOME CATHOLIC WOMEN, THE VOTE IS MOSTLY “SINGLE ISSUE”. THIS RIGHT TO LIFE DEMONSTRATION AT DUBUQUE’S PLANNED PARENTHOOD INCLUDED A NUMBER OF CATHOLICS, CATHOLIC SISTERS AND A PRIEST.
PRIEST: Let us offer ministry for the election. That we will elect representatives that truly uphold the gift of human life, from conception to natural death and marriage between one man and one woman.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: AMONG THE CATHOLICS AT THE DEMONSTRATION A WOMAN NAMED MARIAN BOUREK. ALTHOUGH RIGHT TO LIFE IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BOUREK IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF DUBUQUE’S CHAPTER OF RIGHT TO LIFE.
MARIAN BOUREK: We had heard how very Catholic Dubuque was. And I thought coming to Dubuque, I don’t have to defend my faith. Which I found to be not true. ‘Cause even in this Catholic community, I’m constantly having to defend my faith.
GROUP PRAYER: Lead all souls to heaven especially those in most need…
JOHN LARSON [narration]: DEFEND IT, AGAINST – AMONG OTHERS – CATHOLIC WOMEN – WHO HAVE INCREASINGLY HAVE DIVERGENT THOUGHTS ON BIRTH CONTROL AND ABORTION.
MARIAN BOUREK: There is a lot at stake. Because there are a lot of Catholic laypeople who are very confused and we profess to be Roman Catholics following what the church teaches. And, then, we have other parishioners, even in our leadership, where they are softening some of the teachings, or actually even going against. And it’s very difficult to know where to follow.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: VERY DIFFICULT, TO SAY THE LEAST. TAKE CONTRACEPTION, FOR EXAMPLE. WHEN PRESIDENT OBAMA’S HEALTHCARE PLAN INCLUDED COVERAGE FOR CONTRACEPTION, MANY CATHOLIC WOMEN APPLAUDED, BUT THEIR CHURCH PROTESTED WHAT IT SAW AS GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE WITH THE FREEDOM OF RELIGION.
JOHN LARSON: What do you do with things like contraception? Church is against it. You’ve seen the results of unwanted pregnancies.
MARIAN BOUREK: Well, as a Catholic I f– personally follow the church. There is good reason that they oppose contraception. And– so, we follow that.
JOHN LARSON: I know there are women out there pullin’ their hair out right now, saying, “She’s opposed to abortion– and, yet, no contraception.”
MARIAN BOUREK: Sex is not always the answer. There are many ways– within a married family, within a husband and a wife. There’s natural family planning, for example. And– and for those who are not married, abstinence may sound old fashioned, but it works.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: WHILE THERE ARE MANY CONSERVATIVE CATHOLIC WOMEN IN DUBUQUE. THERE ARE ALSO SOME WHO ARE ARGUABLY AMONG THE MOST PROGRESSIVE, LIBERAL AND INFLUENTIAL CATHOLIC WOMEN IN THE WORLD.
MOST MONDAY’S AT 4 OCLOCK A SMALL GROUP GATHERS ONE BLOCK OFF MAIN STREET TO DEMOSTRATE FOR WORLD PEACE.
NAT PROTEST TBA NAT: “Give peace a chance.”
JOHN LARSON [narration]: SEVERAL WOMEN HERE ARE “SISTERS – OF ST. FRANCIS” – KNOWN FOR THEIR RALLYING VOICE ON A NUMBER OF LIBERAL ISSUES – THE JUST TREATMENT OF UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS, IMMIGRATION REFORM, THE ENVIRONMENT, NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT AND MILITARY SPENDING.
SERVANT SONG music
JOHN LARSON [narration]: THERE ARE 278 SISTERS OF SAINT FRANCES– MOST LIVE A FEW MILES FROM MAIN AT THEIR “MOTHER HOUSE”. THEY ARE KNOWN LOCALLY FOR THEIR SERVICE TO THE POOR, AND INTERNATIONALLY, IN PART FOR THIS WOMAN, SISTER PAT FARRELL. IN 2011 FARREL BECAME THE PRESIDENT OF THE LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE OF WOMEN RELIGIOUS, REPRESENTING ALMOST 47 THOUSAND NUNS, THAT’S 80 PERCENT OF AMERICAN’S NUNS.– IN RECENT YEARS MEMBERS HAVE INCREASINGLY ANGERED ROME, CHALLENGING THE VATICAN ON A VARIETY OF ISSUES: ABORTION, SAME SEX MARRIAGE, AND EQUAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN IN THE CHURCH..
IN APRIL, A VATICAN COUNCIL CONDEMNED THE NUNS, SAYING THEY PROMOTED “RADICAL FEMINIST THEMES” AND ORDERED THEIR PUBLICATION, AND EVENTS BE OVERSEEN BY MALE CHURCH LEADERS.
AND THEN IN JUNE, FARRELL WENT TO ROME TO SPEAK DIRECTLY WITH THE VATICAN, AND SINCE HAS BEEN PURPOSELY SILENT, DENYING ALL NATIONAL TELEVISION INTERVIEWS, UNTIL SHE SAT DOWN WITH US LAST WEEK.
JOHN LARSON: What’s a good Catholic to do– if they’re gonna go out and vote in this election?
SISTER PAT FARRELL: I think we have to look at the whole spectrum of Catholic social teaching as a guide and– different moral principles and moral issues. But the church has always taught that fundamentally, it’s personal. That person’s conscience, what in my deepest heart before God, I believe is right. That’s– that’s the place from which we all need to vote.
JOHN LARSON: Can a Catholic pull a lever for a prochoice candidate? It sounds like a black-white, on-off question. But I suspect it’s not.
SISTER PAT FARRELL: I think that’s a matter of conscience.
JOHN LARSON: Somehow, I knew you’d say that.
SISTER PAT FARRELL: I mean that. I mean that. And that is sacred. And that is very, very Catholic.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: SISTER FARRELL IS NO LONGER THE PRESIDENT, BUT SHE IS STILL VERY MUCH IN A LEADERSHIP ROLE AND ATTEMPTING TO IMPROVE THE DIALOG WITH ROME, SHE AGREED TO AN INTERVIEW WITH US “AS LONG AS OUR CURRENT… ISSUE WITH ROME CAN BE OFF THE TABLE”
SISTER PAT FARRELL: I think fundamentally– we need to look at how are we voting for the common good? What is the common good? And that– the common good does not– limit itself to a single issue.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: THAT’S SOMETHING CANCER SURVIVOR PAM STIERMAN, WHO YOU’LL REMEMBER IS STRONGLY PRO LIFE – AND TORN BY HEALTH CARE REFORM – CAN FEEL IN HER BONES.
PAM STIERMAN: I mean, I’m sure if you talked to other practicing Catholics, that would be a deciding factor and it would be a no-brainer, that would just be the way you vote, but in my situation, I think there’s other things I have to factor in, so I can’t vote on a single issue. So…that’s probably why I’m undecided.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: UP AND DOWN MAIN WE FOUND PEOPLE WEIGHING ISSUES – CONSIDERING ONE ISSUE AMONG OTHERS. PEOPLE WERE TOUGH TO PIDGEON HOLE, SURPRISINGLY EVEN SOME OF THE POLITICIANS WE MET ON MAIN.
SOT: And I refuse to sign those pledges…
JOHN LARSON [narration]: FOR EXAMPLE, AT A “MEET THE CANDIDATES NIGHT” AT THE HOTEL JULIEN DUBUQUE AT 200 MAIN, WE MET A YOUNG REPUBLICAN CHALLENGER FOR U.S. CONGREES WHO TOLD US HE WILL NOT RULE OUT RAISING TAXES AS PART OF CONTROLLING THE FEDERAL DEFICIET.
JOHN LARSON: Does it mean that you’re gonna support them but they’re on the table?
LANGE: Well, what it means is that I haven’t boxed myself in to having an intelligent conversation about how we’re going to actually resolve the national debt crisis.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: WHILE IOWA CAN CERTAINLY BE AS PARTISAN AS ANY OTHER STATE, IT HAS A TRADITION OF MIDWESTERN COOPERATION SEEMINGLY ABSENT AT TIMES IN OTHER STATES. AT SALSA’S RESTAURANT AT 1091 MAIN STREET, WE MET FORMER DEMOCRATIC SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE PAT MURPHY, HE SAID IOWA’S POLITICAL MODERATION MAY BE, IN PART, BECAUSE IOWA REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS HAVE BOTH REFUSED TO OVERTURN IOWA’S MUCH HERALDED, NON PARTISAN RE-DISTRICTING LAW – A LAW WHICH PREVENTS ONE PARTY FROM RE-DRAWING ELECTION DISTRICTS TO HURT THE OTHER PARTY.
PAT MURPHY: We had some encouragement from people at the federal level that said, “Hey, they’ve done this in Texas. They did this in Colorado. You need to– you know– now is your opportunity to do this in Iowa.” And I was like, “Absolutely not.” It’s been very much a bipartisan agreement that you don’t change this law ’cause it works pretty good.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: THE EFFECT, SOME ARGUE, ARE LESS POLARIZED, MORE MODERATE CANDIDATES WHO, WHEN ELECTED, MAY CROSS PARTY LINES IF THEY LIKE AN IDEA.
BRIAN COOPER IS THE EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF THE DUBUQUE TELEGRAPH HERALD.
BRIAN COOPER: If we could turn things upside down and have– you know, some of the people who– serve on the Dubuque City Council dealing with issues go to Washington, they probably could work out quite a few things.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: WHICH MIGHT BE A WELCOME SUGGESTION HERE, BECAUSE ON THIS MAIN STREET, LIKE OTHERS WE’VE VISITED ACROSS THE COUNTRY THERE SEEMS TO BE ONE THING, ALMOST EVERYONE CAN AGREE ON… THAT WASHINGTON IS BROKEN.
MALE VOICE: I’m really disgusted with everything. I’m done with it. I mean Congress, senators, everybody. And all they do is fight with each other.
MALE VOICE: They’re so divided right now. So divided.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: AND THAT THE FARTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS GET FROM MAIN STREET, THE LESS THEY SEEM TO UNDERSTAND.
MALE VOICE: I think the closer you– the electorate is to the elected official– local government, and more action gets done. Because you see that person, you can walk into his office, you see him downtown at coffee, or whatever. And you can talk to him. Once they get away to Washington, they’re like their own– their own little world—
EVEN THOSE TWO BUDDIES – THE ONE DEMOCRAT THE OTHER TEA PARTY WHO DISAGREE ON ALMOST EVERYTHING, AGREE ON THIS.
MALE VOICE #2: The average, hard workin’, middle class American performed their job the way Congress performs theirs, that middle class person, male or female–
MALE VOICE #1: You’d laugh them out.
MALE VOICE #2: –would be out of a job.
MALE VOICE #1: May– maybe– you wouldn’t make it 90 days.
MALE VOICE #2: No. You’d be out of a job.
MALE VOICE #1: May– maybe– you wouldn’t make it 90 days.
MALE VOICE #2: No. They’d be out of a job. It’s pathetic. They are an embarrassment to this country.
MALE VOICE #1: They’re an embarrassment to everybody.
MALE VOICE #2: Yep.
MALE VOICE #1: And– and the thing is is I think they understand it, but they don’t do anything about it. It’s always about protectin’ their job.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: WE HEARD THE QUESTIONS EVERYWHERE, IS THE SYSTEM BROKEN? IS GOVERNMENT UP TO THE TASK?
MALE VOICE: I think the presidency is screwed up. I think they should go six years, fill your term, work as hard as you can and then you—
MALE VOICE: And then you have—
MALE VOICE: –go back.
MALE VOICE: –two new guys in there campaigning to take your job.
MALE VOICE: Yes. Right.
MALE VOICE: And you are do– strictly focused on your job.
MALE VOICE: I agree.
MALE VOICE: That’s not a bad idea.
MALE VOICE: I mean–
MALE VOICE: You could be the next president.
MALE VOICE: They gotta have–
MALE VOICE: I won’t be here.
MALE VOICE: –term limits in all of.
MALE VOICE: John– are you runnin’ Johnny.
JOHN LARSON [narration]: JUST HOW CRITICAL IS DUBUQUE? WELL THIS WEEKEND BOTH CANDIDATES GOVERNOR ROMNEY AND PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL COME HERE. BUT REGARDLESS OF WHICH CAMPAIGN WINS THE BATTLE FOR IOWA’S SIX ELECTORAL VOTES AND THE WHITEHOUSE, IF RECENT TRENDS PERSIST, THE NEXT PRESIDENT WILL INHERIT PERHAPS THE MOST DIVIDED CONGRESS IN MORE THAN A 100 YEARS.. EITHER CANDIDATE WILL MOST LIKELY HAVE TO CONTEND WITH A HOUSE OR SENATE THAT WILL MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO PASS ANY LEGISLATION WHATSOEVER. SOMETHING THAT MAYBE ONLY DUBUQUE’S SISTERS OF SAINT FRANCIS MIGHT THINK A RELATIVELY SIMPLE OBSTACLE. AFTER ALL, THEY ARE OPTIMISTS IN A DIALOG THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON NOW, FOR MORE THAN 2000 YEARS.
SISTER PAT FARRELL: The tricky thing is to try to create the conditions in which conflict can be managed well. Both in our country and, to some degree, in our church, when the climate gets too polarized, we arrive at a stalemate. And that’s not helpful. So, how we get underneath that to create the conditions and the climate for– for real conversation, I think that’s critical.
GLOECKNER: Cherish everything everything we see, cherish everything…
ANNOUNCER [narration]: THIS WEEK ONLINE… CAST A VOTE BEFORE ELECTION DAY IN OUR ONLINE POLL. WILL EITHER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BE ABLE TO FIX THE ECONOMY IN THE NEXT FOUR YEARS? LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK AND WHY. VISIT PBS DOT ORG SLASH NEED TO KNOW.
JOHN LARSON: As this long election season finally draws to a close the candidates are still talking to and about Main Street. Well, soon enough we’re going to find out if those who are elected have actually been listening to Main Street. Thanks for watching.