PETERBOROUGH, NH- It was only six miles compared to the 3200 miles that Granny D walked, but almost 60 of these "rebels" were determined to making a statement about getting big money out of politics.
Dan Weeks, executive director of Open Democracy and the NH Rebellion, the group organizing the event, said he was pleased that so many voters came out to display their anger at the systemic corruption in politics. "People are so frustrated that their politicians no longer work for them, just the special interests and corporations, that they are willing to come out on a rainy day and walk six miles," he said.
These walkers were honoring Dublin's Doris “Granny D” Haddock, who walked across the country at the age of 88 in protest of the corrupting influence of big money in politics. Haddock became a national icon among those seeking campaign finance reform. The walk is part of Open Democracy’s Revive Democracy Weekend which featured a film screening and a talk at the Monadnock Summer Lyceum.
The walk concluded with a rally in Peterborough's Depot Square Park, featuring music from Tattoo, and a reading of Haddock's 2003 speech to ConVal's graduating class by former Conval English teacher, Tim Clark. Four of Granny D's friends also told stories about her, including Francie Von Mertens, a Monadnock region resident who remembered being with Granny D during her walk across the country. She spoke of a small but powerful moment where Granny D encountered a farmworker on an Arizona backroad. Neither spoke the other's language, but Granny D held out her arms, and they hugged. Von Mertens said:
About 35 people attended the Friday night screening of the documentary Pricele$$, about the widespread corruption in Washington, many of whom walked Saturday from Dublin to Peterborough to remember what Granny D did for their cause.
The walk was organized by New Hampshire Rebellion, the successor to Granny D's campaign, founded last year by Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard Law School. In January 2014, Lessig and hundreds of supporters walked from Dixville Notch to Nashua to alert voters of the corrupting influence of big money on politicians and the political process. A recent poll showed that 96 percent of voters agree that big money in politics poses a threat to democracy. The walks are intended to make campaign finance reform a top priority issue in the 2016 presidential primaries.
The weekend concluded on Sunday July 19th with an 11:00 am Summer Lyceum presentation at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Peterborough. Daniel Weeks, the Executive Director of Open Democracy, spoke about systemic corruption in government and its disastrous effect on America’s 50 million citizens living below the poverty line. Weeks traveled by bus through 30 states from 2012-2014 on a poverty-line budget of $16 per day, interviewing low income Americans for his “Poor (in) Democracy” series in The Atlantic.
Open Democracy will be releasing a report card on New Hampshire's access to voting, participation, and other factors at the end of the month. The research includes some surprising statistics, including about how New Hampshire political campaigns are funded.