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We need to do more to follow Granny D

Friday would have been Doris “Granny D” Haddock’s 104th birthday, and those committed to her cause of campaign finance reform gathered in Nashua that day — some following a 185-mile, 13-day trek from Dixville Notch — not only to bring attention to the issue, but also to gather new momentum. It’s clear there are many who aren’t giving up. But what’s disheartening is the lip service our country gives to our admiration for Haddock and how she went about working for change, while we become evermore entrenched in the status quo.

In 18th-century America, nepotism was the grease that fed our political machines. Today it’s money. Granny D wanted to change all that, so in 1999 she began her 3,200-mile pilgrimage across the U.S. at the age of 88. It took her more than a year, but we loved her for it. And she didn’t stop there. In 2004, she challenged Republican Judd Gregg for one of New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate seats. And though she lost, we loved her still.

Haddock went on working to make our national and state elections more democratic up until her dying day at the age of 100 on March 9, 2010. But there have been few tangible results, and sadly we seem to have taken a few steps backwards.

∎ There have been some studies here in New Hampshire of how the state might publicly fund campaigns, and some legislation proposed, but nothing has yet passed muster with legislators.

∎ Nationally, the U.S. Supreme Court’s January 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Committee overturned parts of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 established to limit the amount of money that can be spent on campaigns.

∎ In May 2013, the campaign-finance watchdog National Institute on Money on State Politics gave New Hampshire an F when it comes to disclosure requirements for political actions committees, nonprofits and outside spending groups. There’s a bill in the Senate this legislative session, SB 120, addressing this issue; a hearing will be held about it on Feb. 13, according to the N.H. General Court’s website.

∎ And the fate of New Hampshire’s GMO labeling bill, HB 660, had everything to do with threat of lawsuits from high-powered corporations able to throw their weight, that is money, around.

Haddock was 10-years-old when women gained the right to vote. She told us in an interview in 2008 that she didn’t vote until 1930, shortly after she married. She had lived through the Great Depression, and saw many families on the dole. In the late 1990s, Haddock became passionate about campaign finance reform. She wanted everyone to have the opportunity to succeed in politics, not just the wealthy. She took bold steps to ensure her voice was heard. Now, it’s time for us to truly follow in her path.

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