Making It Work in Iowa

Posted: September 24, 2015 | By: Iowa Caucus Project Staff Tagged: Blog
Moulton Elementary School Sep 22. Photo by Haley Barbour.

Moulton Elementary School Sept. 22. Photo by Haley Barbour.

Finding parking around Moulton Elementary school Tuesday afternoon was quite a task. The streets were full four blocks in every direction. Finally, walking up to the school it was easy to see “Welcome Hillary Community Forum” under the Moulton Learning Center entrance sign. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was going to be speaking about issues that matter to the Iowan community. Once through security, the gym was packed.

There was a large variety of people of all different ages. From children in their school uniforms, to college students, to parents, and grandparents everyone was excited to see what Clinton had to say. One group stood out. About nine people were standing in the back wearing bring blue shirts. When read from a closer distance, the slogan “Make It Work” was written across every one of their chests.

Make It Work is a non-partisan advocacy organization operating all over the country with four main goals in mind. Heather Ryan, an east Des Moines resident, is a staffer for Make It Work in Iowa. She outlined the four policy goals the organization has: equal pay for equal work, affordable child and elder care, paid time off when an individual or a family member is sick, and a livable wage.

Ryan said that these issues should be on every caucusgoer’s mind come February. The national organization is focusing a lot of attention on Iowa right now. Ryan pointed out that since Iowa is first in the nation all eyes are here, both nationally and internationally. Ryan believes that Make It Work has realized that not only will Iowa be the best place to reach the candidates, but it’s the best place to spread its message. In addition, the interactive nature of the caucuses will only help get their issues out, according to Ryan.

Her and her colleagues were at Clinton’s event with prepared questions that they have been asking all of the candidates for months. Clinton herself had taken questions about affordable child care from a Make It Work volunteer at her event in Newton earlier this month. Ryan said so far Clinton has been very receptive to the organization, something they hope continues.

Clinton spoke about a range of issues, but focused her speech mainly on her ideas to expand upon the Affordable Care Act. Once she was done speaking Clinton took questions from the audience. One of them is particular got a lot of media attention because Clinton expressed her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, something supporters had been waiting for. However, many other topics were covered including a question asked by Ryan herself.

Three Make It Work advocates waiting to ask Hillary Clinton a question on Sep 22. Photo by Haley Barbour.

Three Make It Work advocates waiting to ask Hillary Clinton a question on Sept. 22. Photo by Haley Barbour.

Ryan asked Clinton about equal pay for equal work. She asked Clinton how she was supposed to explain to her daughters that they are worth just as much as the boys in their class. Clinton told a story about a little girl from another event that asked her if a girl president would make the same as a boy president. Clinton laughed as she retold the story, she said there was a law in place, one that is actually enforced that guarantees a girl president would be paid the same.

However, Clinton did discuss other laws, like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, that are not properly enforced. Clinton said, “Whenever I talk about this, you know the Republicans accuse me of playing the gender card. And, I always respond, ‘If advocating for equal pay for equal work is playing the gender card, then deal me in.’”

Ryan and the others on the Make It Work team have a handful of other questions to ask Clinton and the other candidates for president. At other upcoming candidate events in Iowa look out for the group of Iowan advocates fighting for their issues to be part of the conversation, in bright blue shirts with the slogan “Make It Work” across them.


Barbour is a junior political science and international relations double major at Drake. She spent last semester abroad in Amman, Jordan, studying Arabic and Middle Eastern politics.