Granny D Tells How 'to take...our place at the table of power'

Excerpts from an address to the Alliance convention at Gettysburg on June 8, 2002, by Doris Haddock, "Granny D," which was followed by a standing ovation of perhaps three minutes' duration.  


     After I finished by 3,200 mile walk across the United States to speak out for the campaign finance reform movement, I was often asked to share how I prepared for this walk....What I learned--and I hope you will not take this too personally--what I learned is that it is never too late to get in shape.  It is never too late to dust off the dreams you may have had for yourself and for your community and your country--and do something about them.  It is never too late to have another great adventure, make a few thousands of new friends, and, well, if you like--it worked for me--to march on the Capitol and get arrested....

     Getting special interest influence out of our politics important precondition to becoming a responsible community.  I have been working in that particular area for the last two years, and the work, being done by many thousands of dedicated people, is far from completed.  But it is time for all of us, I think, to look past that....Let us assume that we will perfect these reforms, and let us look ahead to the question:  once we again have representation at every level of government, what are we to do with it?...We do have a responsibility, after all, to those who sacrificed everything, who gave their lives to give us a free society.  Those people who died did not die for a Corporate World, but for Lincoln's democracy: a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  We ignore their sacrifice if we do not turn our country back to that government....  

     Who of us--who of you--can set aside your own political views and look to the needs of a free society and all its people with all of their views?  Who among us is responsible enough to be able to serve the interests of far right and far left and all the shoppers in the middle?  Well, it is a big question of cultural leadership, and some of you must rise to it.…

I AM HERE to offer a word of advice.  I'm not offering it because I think any of you will outlive me.  Because, as things are going with the current White House, it looks like we're all going to go together, and any day now. 

     Indeed, any time the leader of a powerful country points to other people and says, "evil ones," you know he's deep in a hall of mirrors and we're in for a few million deaths, including many of us.

     The only thing we can take any cheer in is knowing that the same financial companies that backed all these bad leaders won't be able to send us our credit card bills when we're gone.  So let's have a nice dinner somewhere before he drops the big one or rounds us all up--both being distinct possibilities.

     But don't spend too much, because you never know when you're going to be one of the survivors.  And if you are, you can bet that the Master Card folks were in the shadow government bunker with Tom, Dick and George.

     But we who may not be able to run as fast as you, leave you with a word of advice, as I promised.  Some of you are going to be around to pick up the pieces.

     You will have to wrestle democracy away from an imperial presidency, and from a corporate-military-industrial complex the likes of which dear old Ike only half imagined.

     You will have to replace winner-take-all elections with proportional representation elections, so that all parties, including Greens and Reforms, can sit at the table of power in this country and in the world.

     You will have to take down the prisons and build up the schools.  You will have to dismantle a health care system that lets only the rich live and replace it with a system worthy of a civilized society.

     And how will you find your victories?  That is what I will tell you.  This is my advice.

     As reformers, we seldom win by making a frontal attack.  No, we work and we work at a reform and never get too far with it.  And while we are hitting our heads against the wall, we tinker with the idea and it gets better and better and more and more people understand what we are getting at.  But we never win.  The other side loses.  Just when we are about to pack up our banners, along comes an Enron or a Watergate.  In the states and in the nation, we only win by being ready, by being on  the spot with a good, workable alternative, when the unsustainable systems fail, as they always do.

     So don't worry if your state isn't ready for this reform or that reform.  Don't worry if you think the federal government isn't ready for public financing or proportional representation or instant runoff voting or single payer health care or, God forbid, simple human justice and a mature concern for the global environment.

     More Enrons are coming than you will be able to count.  I see them lining up like wobbling biplanes on approach.  Go do your reform work.  Represent the good issues, regardless of their chances of victory by today's measures.  The measures will change tomorrow.

     The rivers are drying up.  The seas are rising.  The poles are melting.  Unsustainably corrupt politics on a global scale has reaped the whirlwind for all of us.  We can only save this earth and this democracy by working hard and developing our skills of timing and our courage to act with great leadership and with great wisdom and expertise when opportunities present themselves.

     Be an expert in these matters.  Work hard as a reformer.  And I promise that you will have your day on the field, matched more evenly for the fight than you ever imagined possible....When your enemy is unsustainability itself, you cannot lose if you play it wisely.

WHAT A WONDERFUL challenging time in which we live.  A time when so much is at stake and when we all have so much important work to do in taking back our freedom, our elections from the Corporate World that has been created.  To be able to re-establish responsible communities all over America.  To establish in every state a Clean Money election system.  Four states are now on public funding, and 40 more of our 50 are in various stages of working for it  Think how wonderful it would be if all our state officers, and our Congress, could be elected because of their honesty, vision, and character, instead of being elected because he or she was able to raise the most illegal money.

     A government of by and for the people, means you and me.  It is said there is nothing more joyous than belonging to a group of interesting people, working against great odds for a cause that is important to all.  I say to you, if you aren't involved, get involved and join the fun!  Understand what it means to be an American.  It means to take responsibility for mature self-governance.  In a world where the divide between the very wealthy and the literally starving is growing rapidly, where one child in five goes to bed hungry, and two out of five if they are Afro-American, we must assume responsibility.  We must take our place at the table of power.