A touching first-person account of a doughty political activist who walked from California to Washington, D.C., to promote campaign-finance reform.
Haddock (or “Granny D,” as she came to be known) is a tough old Yankee who seems to have stepped straight out of a Reader’s Digest “Most Unforgettable Character” article. She was just a few days shy of her 89th birthday when she began her cross-country hike on January 2, 1999. With help from Common Cause (coauthor Burke is director of Arizona Common Cause), relatives, friends, and a growing number of supporters, she trekked across the western deserts, the plains of Texas, the hills of Arkansas and West Virginia, and eventually through the streets of the nation’s capital to call attention to the issue. Except for 100 miles along the C&O Canal towpath (which she covered on cross-country skis), Haddock walked the entire way. At the rate of ten miles a day (with frequent stops to meet people, make speeches, and give interviews), her journey lasted 14 months. Much of this narrative is taken from her journal, to which she devoted two hours every evening, and most of it deals with events of the walk itself. The self-portrait that emerges makes clear that the author’s late-in-life public venture was not some sudden whim but an act grounded in a lifetime of intelligent concern, forthrightness, and involvement. Haddock includes excerpts from encouraging letters and e-mail messages she received from people following her progress, as well as highlights from some of her speeches (longer excerpts are in an appendix). Whether her efforts succeed in bringing about campaign finance reform remains to be seen, but politicians should be put on notice: this media-savvy old lady is now back in Dublin, New Hampshire, getting in shape for more walks.
A moving reminder of the power of the human will.