Women for Regime Change in the US – starting with voter registration

Granny D is on the road again.

Visit her site at www.GrannyD.com

Doris "Granny D" Haddock, 93, is on the first miles of her multi-state trek to listen to non-voters and urge them to sign up… Working women are underrepresented in voting for many reasons--including overwork and stressed schedules. Taking the voter registration desk right into their workplaces is one of Doris's strategies. In 1999-2000, Granny D, during 1999-2000, walked across the United States to demonstrate her support and speak out for campaign funding reform.

Here is what she said recently in Eastern Pennsylvania:
Thank you all.

I have begun travelling the towns of our nation and talking to the half of America, young and old, who usually do not vote. I am learning a great deal. If you are one of these Americans, then I will say I understand your position.

Many of you despair of politics. You are not much interested in voting fort he lesser of evils, if that is the choice.

Many of you work so hard and long each day that you have no time left for registering and for voting, specially when you see only marginal differences, less than inspiring candidates, and an election process that raises up the least interesting and the least honorable candidates.

You see politics as a dark world of self-interest and forever recycled baloney. You see the major parties not as great clubs for your participation, where you are welcome, but as special interest groups. "Only special interests vote," a fellow in a Pennsylvania coffee shop said. The rusting hulk of the Bethlehem iron works, now closed for four years, was just down the hill.

Many of you are worried about the state of our society, about the prospects for our children, about the health of our environment, about simple justice in the workplace and in society. You worry how you will be able to afford the future the school costs, health costs, retirement, and last monthıs bills.

The sudden rise of new political figures with no prior service to our community and no clear and luminous visions for the future can be explained by a longing for leaders who will at least stop mouthing the same old lines. We long for strong and principled leaders, or at least strong leaders, an we perhaps grasp as straws for lack of anything more substantial. People are hungry and discouraged. We will be tempted to vote for any bull heading for the china shop of politics-as-usual. That is, however, a vote for "none-of-the-above" It is not a real vote--meaning an affirmative vote for actual leadership. Actual leadership in a civilized democracy is creative, not destructive.

And the new definition of a "special interest group" seems to be any group of people who regularly participate in a political system that does not seem to ever move forward. So the environmental groups are seen sitting beside the mountain-removing coal companies and the belching chemical plants. All of them, in frustration or in villany, keep saying the same thing, and are so predictable. It seems that they are only looking out or their own point of view.

What about my point of view, you ask? Who can set aside their own views long enough to consider my views, to let me into the great dayıs events? Isnıt this really about alienation? Isn't it about the monstrous loneliness we have inherited as our natural communities have dissolved into formless urban tissue and harsh landscapes of strangers and strip malls and brutal careers? Isnıt community what we long for, even when we rail against the policies that would build community? Donıt we need to be more a part of it all, as owners somehow, before we can cheerfully toss our votes into the old sausage machine? And when we arenıt honored to be in the wheelhouse of this great ship, arenıt we tempted to think that the business of steering the ship is the boring province of others? Is our refusal to participate on a less than equal basis a possible indication of our very high values and expectations for our society? I think it is often just that.

Until that day when the system measures up, you do not vote. You live in the fear that there would be little to show for it. By not participating, you at least do not allow yourself to be led by the nose through the pig wallow. This resistance is a part of your self-respect, and you maintain your resistance, even though you know that some candidates are indeed big trouble for your future and you should bite the bullet and go vote, but you cannot manage the stink of it. There are so many other demands on your time that day.

And for some of you, it is the little things about voting that stop you: the no clear place to register, the no parking space near the county court house, the fear of looking stupid when you go to vote and donıt know exactly how it is done. These little things would be worth overcoming if there were candidates worth a parking space, but there are none.

And how far away now seems that day, even if it was in a mythical past, when we Americans' free Americans anyway--had a sense of belonging, of ownership in our communities? How long since we interacted with each other and discussed the issues of our community and our nation as civic equals and as people responsible for our shared future? The voter is a kind of renaissance person of wide interests and wide knowledge, whose sense of responsibility gazes as a gentle warmth over the region and the nation. We long for that, and resist participating in a lesser way. We fall into private worlds where politics seems of another world to us. It is not for us, though we know it shapes the world in which we live and threatens us and our families.

The man in the coffee shop who said the only people who vote are the special interests haunts me. Much of this manıs life in a steel town has been directed by political leaders who decided which industries would survive and which would wither. But he could not imagine having a real say in any of it. That is simple despair. Multiplied among our neighbours, it is clinical depression on a national scale.

A young desk clerk, Christina, working late at a motel in Easton said that she was considering registering for the first time, because the issues with children were not being addressed and she felt she had to do something. She is registered now, of course, because we have the forms with us. She is taking a leap of faith. She does not have candidates in front of he to believe in, but she knows the system needs something new, and she has decided to be it.

I think that she is on to something. What do you think? How do you energize a system? How do you make a revolution except by stepping over the line and changing the equilibrium of the status quo? In a way, she follows in the great footsteps of those who gave her gender the right to vote. They thought that, by taking their part in the battle of societyıs ideas, one vote at a time, they might make a difference.

One vote at a time, they liberated their sisters from the presumption of inferior status. Women still struggle for fair equality, but they are not presumed to be the pack animals of our society. They have great opportunities now to define their own lives on their own terms, even if they never had just the right candidates to vote for. Their participation changed their status and changed society in ways more profound than any candidate could achieve.

It is a fact that the leadership of a society is defined by whomever shows up to lead, and that leadership has a relentless effect for change.Pennsylvania politics will be different with Christina in it. It will look better, field better candidates, deal with issues that it otherwise would neglect, and all of that will gently change the community and the nation. Each of us has such an effect on our enuutire society we can scarcely imagine it. And when we put ourselves in the fray, even that little bit, the effect is magnified to an astonishing degree.

So here is what I am proposing. Go visit your townıs war memorial and imagine a conversation with those young people who gave their lives for their country and its freedoms. Imagine that they thought they were giving their lives for the idea that we are a self-governing people. Self-governance is the basis of our freedom--indeed we can easily understand that. Imagine that you owe these fine young people a debt of democracy. Do you not? Do we not? Are we to change the system, influence the course of events, by our very presence in the system? Is their sacrifice worth our finding a parking space an registering to vote and returning to vote? Are we not obliged to walk into the room where a self-governing people decide the fate of their land and people?

Will we not do this for our own futures, for the childrenıs future? For the future of nature itself?
If the system is not worthy of us, can we not make it more worthy by adding our love to it?

Can we find the missing community, the missing honor, the missing leadership, the missing excellence in our system by adding what we ourselves might add to it, and do we not owe a debt of democracy to those who died for our freedoms and the self-governance from which it grows?

Will you not register to vote, sisters? Here I come at my age and it is difficult to visit all these towns. But I do it to demonstrate that I care deeply what you do. It is my honor to stand before you and implore you to take your place as an equal of our nation and of this community. And if you have been waiting for an invitation, I bring it to you now, and it is the only one you are likely to receive in so direct a manner.

So will you register to vote and be an American and not just a taxpayer? Will you be an American and not just an occupant and a resident? Will you tap the deepest river of your lifeÂıs meaning and bring it into your daily life the life of a citizen of the worldıs great democracy?

It is what I have come here to ask.

Thank you.