Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thank you, Doris "Granny D" Haddock

We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Doris "Granny D" Haddock, a long time friend and indefatigable ally in the fight for democracy. She passed away yesterday at home in New Hampshire at the age of 100.

She was best known for her walk across the country to promote campaign finance reform, a walk that started at age 89 in California, and ended with much fanfare almost ten years ago to this day in Washington DC. But the end of her walk was by no means the end of her work cleaning up what she never failed to refer to as bribery--the favors-for-cash exchanges that deform democracy and public policy.

She was a Democracy Brigade participant, arrested twice in the Capitol Rotunda, once while reading the Declaration of Independence (in her court statement she noted that one of the protestors had fallen while being taken away by police and left with a bleeding head for several hours, and added "I am glad we were only reading from the Declaration of Independence --I shudder to think what might have happened had we read from the Bill of Rights.")

She logged more than 23,000 miles to help with voter registration efforts in 2003 and 2004, and that year she ran for U.S. Senate against Republican Judd Gregg, following the last-minute withdrawal of the presumptive Democratic nominee. She also spearheaded a campaign for a state-level Citizen Funded Election Task Force, which has been meeting regularly to bring publicly funded elections to New Hampshire.

At her 100th birthday celebration, days after the Citizens United decision dismantled the limited protections she'd walked so far to help institute, she was neither bitter nor discouraged, likening the decision to a man hearing that his old cabin has burned to the ground and seeing it, not as a loss, but as a chance to build a better one from the ground up. Her optimism wasn't pollyanna-ish, but rooted in common-sense ideals of what it means to be both a responsible individual and part of a wider community.

As she said at a speech in Boston in 2000, "We have a duty to look after each other and we invent governments for this purpose. If we lose control of our government, then we lose our ability to dispense justice and human kindness. Our first priority today, then, is to defeat utterly those forces of greed and corruption that have come between us and our self-governance."

Our thoughts go out to Doris's family and friends, with tremendous gratitude for her life, spirit and work.

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