Favorite Non-Fiction Books, #79: Walking Across America in My 90th Year
The passing of our friend Mark Connolly has led me to think about some of the people who have made New Hampshire politics such a vibrant and eclectic menagerie. We've had our share of scoundrels and saints, of kind and generous and thoughtful men like Mark and, well, some not so much. There have been characters too, people like Doris "Granny D" Haddock. When she was 88 years old, Granny D set out from California on foot and spent the next fourteen months walking about ten miles a day, and arrived in Washington DC when she was 90.
The exercise was intended to draw attention to campaign finance reform, an issue that has only grown more important in the near two decades since. When people ask me about term limits for elected officials, my usual response is that if we had nonpartisan redistricting and public financing of elections, we wouldn't need artificial term limits - we could rely on the actual term limits we call elections. The amount of dark and corporate money that permeates our elections is an impediment to our democratic ideals and an obstacle to any truly republican form of government.
During last year's campaign, I raised over $100,000 from over 600 individual donors, none coming from corporations or PACs, while well more than half of my opponent's money came from those sources. I out-raised him anyway by a nearly 3 to 1 margin, but it wasn't enough to overcome the severely gerrymandered district we both sought to represent. Rotten districting and rotten money - these are the two cardinal sins in our system, and addressing both should be high on the list of anyone who claims to be a servant of the public. Get redistricting out of the hands of the legislatures and into the purview of nonpartisan commissions. Reverse decisions like Citizens United that equate money with speech and relegate non-wealthy Americans to second-class participants in their own civic life.
Oh - and if an old lady can walk 3200 miles to make a point, we can all make it to the ballot box on Election Day. That's where we renew America - not with ideology purity arguments on Twitter or with mean-spirited memes on Facebook, but out in the real world where the real decisions get made. Show up, baby.