In the category of “you’re never too old to have an impact,” Granny D probably took the cake. At age 89, she undertook a journey most of us will never even contemplate, let alone complete — she walked across the United States to bring attention to our corrupt, corporate-driven political system. That’s right, walked!
And then, just to drive the message home that old folks best not be considered dead folks, Granny D ran for the U.S. Senate seat in New Hampshire — at age 94.
Running on a shoe-string budget that reflected her deep concern about the influence of big money on political campaigns, Granny D won 34% of the vote, an impressive total given that she was running against a well-funded, two-term incumbent.
Granny D, aka Doris Haddock, died last month at the age of 100. Even in her final months, she stayed keenly aware of the political scene. After the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling overturning the meager campaign finance regulations that had been won in the past decade, Granny D issued the following statement:
“The Supreme Court, representing a radical fringe that does not share the despair of the grand majority of Americans, has today made things considerably worse by undoing the modest reforms I walked for and went to jail for and that tens of thousands of other Americans fought very hard to see enacted. The Supreme Court now opens the floodgates to usher in a new tsunami of corporate money into politics.”
I always find it amusing when people argue that corporations and individuals giving millions of dollars to political leaders and candidates are merely exercising their right to free speech.
More and more, freedom in the U.S. is returning it’s historical roots of being limited to those with wealth. The small, but important gains of the late 19th through mid-20th centuries — such as labor laws, Social Security, and Voting Rights Acts — are increasingly coming under attack and being erased.
We’re clearly in danger of returning to the Gilded Age, which was only wonderful for those at the top who controlled almost everything and were raking in the bucks in the process.
People like Granny D serve as an inspiration not only because of the messages they send, but also because of the shear resilience they display in the face of such huge obstacles.
It’s utterly too easy to toss in the towel, and retreat into the latest episode of American Idol or some other inane pursuit.
However, if Granny D could walk across an entire nation at her age, and then run for high elected office, then the rest of us certainly can do our part. And damn well better, cause Granny D is still watching us, and calling us to be our best.
“Granny D”© Karl and King George
“Granny D Runs for Senate”© Arts Alliance America