Saturday, March 13, 2010

Doris "Granny D" Haddock dies at the age of 100 years

Doris "Granny D" Haddock (January 24, 1910 – March 9, 2010) was an American politician and liberal political activist from New Hampshire.

This week I learned of the death of activist Doris Haddock of Dublin, N.H., better known as Granny D. I first met her 10 years ago when she visited Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She was 90 years old when she completed her 3,200 miles journey across the country to lobby for campaign finance reform – starting on January 1, 1999 and culminating on February 29, 2000,

She died on Tuesday March 9, at the age of 100. A former housewife and office assistant, Doris was happily retired for over twenty years–but when her husband died, she needed a reason to live. So at the age of 90, she laced up her sneakers and walked across America to rally against the influence of big money in elections. Her epic journey galvanized popular attention to a political system gone awry.

Unfortunately, candidates who can raise the most money still win elections. It’s a system where, as Granny D put it “a poor man has to sell his soul to get elected.”

Granny D ran an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate in 2004, continued to press Congress to plug campaign loopholes in campaign laws that allowed so-called “soft money” from corporations, and other interest groups trying to influence political campaigns.

Campaign reform efforts were dealt another blow in January when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to reverse a century-long trend to limit the power of corporations in American elections. The decision overruled two precedents – a 1990 decision that upheld restrictions on corporate spending to support or oppose political candidates and a 2003 decision that upheld the McCain-Feingold law that restricted campaign spending by corporations and unions.

It will take leadership, courage and the perseverance shown by Granny D, during her second career as a political activist to change the way politics is played in America.

“Never be discouraged from being an activist because people tell you that you’ll not succeed,” she wrote. “You are succeeding if you are out there representing truth or justice or compassion or fairness or love.”

There are many miles left to go before Granny D’s dream is realized. But hers are words to live by.

As I listened to this small, energetic, feisty, then 90-year-old lady who had just walked 3,200 miles across the continental United States, I was filled with encouragement and renewed energy that one should continue to speak up when we see or hear something that we feel needs to be changed. Sometimes it can be a lonely struggle but then people like Granny D enter our lives and we are inspired to continue on.

During her walk, while following her daily regimen of ten miles, she wrote nightly for two hours. The result was a journal that is a multilayered memoir, roadside nature field book, and philosophical summation of a life well spent. She spoke fondly of people who she had met on her journey. Her book is full of portraits of the countless citizens who welcomed, joined, cared for, and walked with her. Her graceful descriptions of the kindness routinely shown her are collectively a stunning portrait of the American soul.


"You're Never Too Old to Raise a Little Hell." Granny D.


God bless you Granny D and thank you for all of the work that you did while here on earth and for giving us the inspiration to continue to speak out and stand up against injustices of the world.

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