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The view from Main Street

By John Larson and William Brangham

“Main Street” is one of the most clichéd phrases in American political speech.  What politician – Democrat or Republican — hasn’t deployed that term to signal that they’re in tune with the concerns of real people?

Taking that cliché to heart, and given that New Hampshire is about to put its stamp on the Republican presidential nomination, we decided to travel to New Hampshire to hear the stories of people who live and work on a real Main Street.

We went to Nashua, located in the southeastern corner of the state, and it didn’t take long to find plenty of good news – bustling small businesses, a thriving local bank, all on one of the most scenic Main Streets we’d seen.  New Hampshire itself boasts better economic numbers than most places in the U.S.  But as we knocked on more and more doors on Main, we also discovered a more troubling story:  that despite New Hampshire’s rosy economic statistics, this extended economic downturn has wounded the middle class in a way that feels more permanent than temporary.  Here’s our report:

We’re grateful to all the residents and business owners on Nashua’s Main Street – those who appear in this broadcast, and many others who don’t — who welcomed us into their town and shared their stories with us.  In particular, we’re grateful to two local musicians, Russ Fontaine and Joel Cage, who graciously allowed us to use their music in our program.