Candidate for U.S. Senate Michael Franken visits Iowa State


Brielle Tuttle

Mike Franken briefly interacted with those at the town hall after taking questions.

Former Admiral Michael Franken, Democratic candidate for Senate, said democracy is in danger at a forum at Iowa State Friday evening.

In an interview with the Iowa State Daily after the town hall hosted in the Memorial Union by the Lecture Series and Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, Franken said the danger to democracy lives within the access to voting.

“That is the road to salvation, democracy,” Franken said. “Moreover, if the candidates that we bring to the voting ballot house are segmented on both polar ends of the political spectrum, you’re going to have a topsy-turvy environment where it’s alpha or omega– there’s nothing in between.”

Franken said the candidates who represent the more polar ends of the spectrum eventually make it to the ballot due to low primary turnout, which ultimately may land in their candidacy as campaigning becomes a competition for financing.

Franken said along with voting, Republican politicians that voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election have posed and continue to pose threats to democracy.

“Democracy is at risk,” Franken said. “I can’t believe I’m having this– I spent 40 years defending this all overseas and domestically, and now I’m doing it here.”

In lieu of Franken being a proponent for Voting ID’s, a position relatively unpopular among some Democrats, Franken said the number of voting Americans without some type of identification is low enough to offset the worth of removing a talking point from Republicans.

“If you want to remove this as an issue that the Republicans complain about, how hard is it to just bring an ID in? Or to have a phone number that’s based on the phone records, or just to somehow to double down– double integrity that you are that person?” Franken said.

According to data gathered from the ACLU in August of 2021, roughly 11% of Americans do not have any form of ID, which would bar roughly 21 million Americans from voting in a system in which an ID is required.

Franken said he is in favor of codifying Roe v Wade, adding that the codifying of the case could help keep Iowans in Iowa.

“Nationwide, [an] insurance company in Des Moines just closed their building the other day,” Franken said. “All of their employees are going to work remotely. Now, if you’re a woman, or if you’re a male who’s concerned about [or] really lives by [the] equal rights of [their] spouse, married to a woman, your kids, if you have a choice to live everywhere, and if Iowa says knish on abortions after this month, etc, why would you live in Iowa?”

Franken said with military bases being stationed around the world and access to abortion being offered through the Veterans Association, the issue of abortion can be handled federally.

“Are we going to get castigated by the state?” Franken said. “What happens? Are we this little island, where the state legislature is going to say ‘Get rid of that base,’ etc? Is that what we really want in society? Haven’t we gone through states’ rights once before it– didn’t work out so well.”

Franken said men should not solely be making decisions on reproductive rights.

“You know, it’s interesting for an 89-year-old politician to be so strident in his belief system on [abortion rights],” Franken said regarding Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. “He’s been trying to do this since 1972. Why does he give a hoot?”

In respect to President Joe Biden’s recent proposal to eliminate $20,000 of student debt from certain Americans, Franken said despite the number of bailouts for banks, Biden’s remedy to the situation does not address the deeper issue.

Franken said he advocates for lowering the overall cost of education and zeroing out interest on student loans and increasing Pell Grants to address the issue of student debt. He also said student debt is an issue he foresees potential compromise can be made with the Republican party.

In addition to addressing student debt, Franken said he wants to initiate programs to assist those not in college also.

“If you want to be a teacher, let’s have you work for the Department of Education or the Department of Commerce for a year,” Franken said. “That year obviates two years of your college– boom, done– and gives you credence on your resume. And you may decide, ‘you know what, I don’t want to be a teacher. I want to be a doctor instead.’ Give people an option.”