Directed by Brad Lichtenstein • Documentary • 2012 • 87 minutes
As Goes Janesville catapults viewers to the front lines of a national debate over the fate of the American economy and the survival of the middle class – a debate that turned into a pitched battle in the normally tranquil state of Wisconsin.
Our story begins the day before Christmas, 2008, when GM shuts down its Janesville, Wisconsin plant. Thousands of workers bring home pink slips as GM’s closing triggers a chain reaction of factory shut downs that triples unemployment and threatens to undermine a mighty middle class that has thrived in Janesville for more than a century. While workers try to figure out how to move on with their lives, town leaders dig in for what will become an epic showdown over the future of the American Dream — a battle that bursts onto the national scene when 14 Senators — including one of our main characters — leave the state to try to prevent newly-elected Governor Scott Walker’s bill to end collective bargaining. Meanwhile, Janesville's leaders try to attract new business and reinvent their community despite the division that has taken over the state. As Goes Janesville, so goes America.