Preaching love and campaign-finance reform, 97-year-old "Granny D" spoke in Chico Monday.Surely one of America's oldest political activists, Doris "Granny D" Haddock is renowned for promoting her cause by walking across the country when she was 89.
The New Hampshire resident spoke to about 50 people in the Chico City Council Chambers at noon Monday and planned to give a second talk at Chico State University later in the day.
At the Council Chambers, Haddock called for action against the "giant beast" of unrestrained capitalism.
"A century ago, the ordinary people of America joined together to tie down this giant," she said. "The robber barons remained tied down for a time. Now, loosed again, these giants have taken over the television networks and most of our newspapers."
The new laissez-faire philosophy, which she called "neoliberalism," creates wars and drains money from vital government functions, like police, fire protection, schools and health care, she said.
The solution is publicly funded political campaigns, she suggested. Since politicians depend on big corporations to finance their campaigns, they do the bidding of those companies once they are in office. If the public paid for campaigns, elected officials would really follow the will of the people, she said.
Haddock suggested Americans are "drones" who go to work each day, watch television each night to "receive instructions on what to buy," then go to sleep to rest up so they can work long hours the next day.
"That's not freedom by any name," she said.
Haddock said she's glad Arizona and Maine now have public funding of campaigns and hopes more states will follow their example.
There are "two kinds of politics in the world," she said. The "politics of love" and the "politics of fear."
The first is characterized by "cooperation, sharing and inclusion." The second involves "narrow ideology that separates us, exploits us, demeans us and overcharges us."
These two political forms are now "pitted against each other" in a battle that will define America in the future, she said.
Haddock said she got fired up about campaign-finance reform in the 1990s, when the McCain-Feingold bill had stalled in Congress.
On a trip to Florida with her son, she saw an old man walking along the road with a pack on his back, and she asked her son what he was doing.
"He's gone on the road again," her son said. Haddock told her son she wanted to do the same.
He would only allow it if she trained for a while and showed she was fit and could take care of herself out on her own.
Haddock was asked Monday when she is happiest.
"I'm always happy," she said though she admitted she gets a little down once in a while, when the changes she seeks don't seem to happen soon enough.
Haddock said she believes in Ghandi's message that "you have to take on the burden yourself -- don't ask anyone else -- you have to do it yourself."
Staff writer Larry Mitchell can be reached at 896-7759 or email@example.com.
BACKGROUND: Activist "Granny D" walked across America when she was 89 and has been promoting political reforms ever since.
WHAT'S NEW: The unstoppable senior spoke in Chico Monday, in a visit sponsored by the Chico Peace and Justice Center.
HIGHLIGHTS: She has been arrested twice in demonstrations and has written a book, "Granny D: You're Never Too Old to Raise a Little Hell."
Copyright 2007 MediaNews Group