Friday, March 10, 2006

Granny D Comes to Portland

Over at Blog For Oregon, a tip if you find yourself free tomorrow afternoon in Portland: "Granny D" will be talking campaign finance reform. At 2:30 p.m. in the School of Business Administration on the corner of S.W. 6th and Harrison, Room 190, Doris Haddock will once again remind people--in a nice way, of course--how we're all pathetically lazy sitting behind our keyboards, and that things only get changed when you get up and change them. After all, this is the woman who walked 3,000+ miles for campaign reform in 1999 and then did much the same thing on an even broader scale to register the disaffected in 2003 and 2004. Don't feel impotent yet? Did I mention she was 94 at the time? I begin to pity myself after the 2nd page of phone bank calls, and she's signing up people in the hood and the barrio.

On top of everything, she's an enormously talented writer and speaker. From last October, here's an excerpt of remarkably clear thinking--the kind that I suppose takes 96 years to develop:

If you wonder why the other side of the political aisle seems so resistant to the facts, it is because they are not interested in what works, what is pragmatic; they are interested in obedience to authority. It is nothing less than mental bondage to the cult of authority. This is of course unworkable in the civic arena, where pragmatism is the belief system we must share as our common ground. The only way to break through that problem is if our few national voices of authority will please give these authority-dependent people permission to think freshly about our important issues.

There is another string leading out of this dark maze. Better leaders can make great differences in the life of a society, but we cannot elect them if we do not change from electoral organizing to social organizing.

When I went on a 23,000-mile voter registration journey before the last election, I walked through many housing projects and low-income neighborhoods where no one from the outside had dropped by to talk politics since the last election. The Democrats only come around, I was told, every few years to ask for their votes, but they weren't there to listen to their problems, to help them craft political solutions, and to stand behind them and amplify their voices. These people were of the opinion that, if the Democrats won or lost, their own lives wouldn't really change much.

It is simply exploitive politics to come around begging for votes without giving so much as a crouton in return. We have to be involved all year long, every year, and in every neighborhood that needs political help. That is movement building--not just stumping for candidates.