As President Clinton speaks to the nation in his last State of the Union address as president, Doris Haddock, known as Granny D, is still trekking across the United States calling for campaign finance reform. We caught up with her as she cross-country skied on the C&O Canal from Maryland to West Virginia. She began her walk across the US on January 1, 1999, and plans to arrive in Washington, DC, this February 29th, on Leap Day. [includes rush transcript]
- Granny D, aka Doris Hadock, Who is trekking through the United States calling for campaign finance reform. She is on her way to Paw Paw, West Virginia, cross-country skiing on the C&O Canal.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Juan, we’re going to turn now to a regular feature of Democracy Now! these days, and that is Granny D, traveling across America for campaign finance reform. Some people may be following her on the web at www.grannyd.com — that’s www.grannyd.com — but we’ve been catching up with her by telephone, as she treks across the country to take private money out of public campaigns. Let’s see if we can get in touch with her.
GRANNY D: Hello, Amy?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes.
GRANNY D: This is Granny D.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s nice to have you with us. It’s a crackly line. Where are you?
GRANNY D: Well, I’m in Cumberland. Cumberland, Maryland. I’m going to go — be traveling along the C&O Pathway, that goes — we have changed my route from Route 40 to Route 50 to the C&O Path, that goes along beside the canal, which was used in — which was set-up in 1820 to carry coal down to D.C., and it’s still is there. And we were having such a dreadful time on the road, because its very icy and very snowy, and the shoulder is pretty well covered up with snow, so we were having quite a hard time, and we changed and are going along [inaudible].
AMY GOODMAN: And what are you wearing on your feet, Granny D?
GRANNY D: Well, I actually had brought along my ski boots, and so I’m working with my ski boots, and I’m doing cross-country skiing down this 180.5-mile pathway that goes along between the canal and the Potomac River. When they — in 1820 they needed to bring coal down from the western part of the state, so they brought the coal down on barges and — but then the railroad came in and eliminated this, because the rail — that way they could go right to the mine. And the way before, they had to carry the coal from mines to the canal, and then it was put on barges and carried down the river. And now, I mean — down the canal — and now, that canal is no longer being used, but they kept the pathway along it.
So we have this lovely pathway through the woods going down all the way to Washington, D.C. And since I had my skis with me, in case anything came up that I needed skis for in West Virginia, and my driver, coordinator, went and got himself some skis, too, yesterday, so we’re going to be skiing down there.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re very determined to get to Washington, D.C., Granny D. Can you refresh our listeners’ memories, or for new listeners who are listening right now, why you are headed to the nation’s capital?
GRANNY D: Yes. Well, I feel very [inaudible] that something has gone wrong with our government, that we — a poor man today has to give his soul in order to run for office, or he has to be a multimillionaire. And I don’t feel that is government of and by and for the people, and I want my twelve great-grandchildren and all the little boys and girls in the country today to be inheriting a democracy, not an oligarchy or something similar.
Today, the corporations, the unions, wealthy men are able to control our elections, and that is not right. And we have many organizations throughout the country who are working on campaign finance reform. They all feel very strongly that something should be done and done fast. And so far, the McCain-Feingold bill, which needs to be passed to begin the operation of change, has not been passed because there’s been some foot dragging on part of some of the senators. And so, I’m out there.
And senators and the media said, when McCain-Feingold bill did not pass the last time, that the people back home don’t care whether or not we spend millions and millions of dollars on our elections and whether or not we take soft money, which is illegal money from corporations that they give to the campaigns under the table. And so, I came out here to see if this was the way the people in the country were feeling.
But people in the country say the reason that only 49% of us vote is because we think, oh, all our politicians are crooks. And I say to them they are not crooks. Something has gone wrong with our system, and we’re letting it — the elections go away from us and be buried in illegal money, and something must be done.
So here I am, out walking at ninety years old, and I’ve already covered 3,000 miles. And I’m walking to tell the people back home that something needs to be done, that we really, really have got to pass that McCain-Feingold bill. So that’s what I’m doing, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you get a chance to see the President’s State of the Union address last night?
GRANNY D: I didn’t hear him last night. I tell you, I skied for the first time yesterday, and my — the muscles in my upper legs were so bad that I had to — had to take a hot, hot, hot, hot bath and go to bed at 8:00. And I’m feeling fine this morning. But what did he say, Amy?
AMY GOODMAN: Well, he talked about all sorts of issues, but certainly did not make a pledge that all private money would be taken out of public campaigns. But I wanted to ask you Granny D, in the midst of this walk that you’ve been taking for almost a year now, since January 1st, ’99, when you began in Los Angeles —
GRANNY D: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: The Supreme Court has come down with a decision just in the last few days, saying that money is not equivalent to speech and that states can limit money that goes into elections.
GRANNY D: Yes. Well, we consider that was a great victory, and we’re very, very pleased that they have done it, because, of course, it clears up the matter of Valeo, when people thought from what the Supreme Court said that money was speech, speech was money. And, of course, it isn’t. It isn’t the same thing at all. And we are so happy and pleased that the Supreme Court has made this decision. I think it’s going to make — well, I don’t think that the Supreme Court realized, when they passed the Valeo and said what they did, that the great flood of money that is being used for campaigns now would occur. I think that was a great surprise to them.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I don’t want to keep you so that you do make it to Washington, D.C. on Labor Day on February 29th.
GRANNY D: Yes, February 29th on leap year day. We’re going off the route to do a circuit of colleges before I get there, so that’s going take up some time, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I’ts seven degrees here in New York City, but you’re warming our hearts, Granny D, and again, you turned —
GRANNY D: Thank you. Thank you, dear.
AMY GOODMAN: You turned ninety on Monday, and I think —
GRANNY D: Yes, I did.
AMY GOODMAN: — when you’re ninety years old, you get to celebrate it all week, so happy birthday once again.
GRANNY D: Thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you. Have a safe ski. Bye.
GRANNY D: Bye-bye.
AMY GOODMAN: And that is Granny D, who is walking, skiing, getting herself across this country, bringing the issue of campaign finance reform to as many states and people as she can, hoping to make it to Washington, D.C. by February 29th. She comes from New Hampshire and actually flew back for Martin Luther King’s birthday for the first official celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday in New Hampshire state history.