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Will New Hampshire Be the Next State to Declare Democracy Is for People—Not Corporations? | The Nation

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John Nichols

John Nichols

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Will New Hampshire Be the Next State to Declare Democracy Is for People—Not Corporations?

New Hampshire Town Hall

Many of the votes to overturn Citizens United took place in New Hampshire Town Halls. (Wikimedia Commons/John Phelan)

Granny D would, no doubt, be quite proud of her hometown and her home state.

In 1999 and 2000, Doris “Granny D” Haddock walked 3,300 miles from California to Washington, DC, in order to highlight the crisis of money in politics. That was remarkable. What was even more remarkable was that she started the walk at age 88, finished at age 90 and then kept right on campaigning for another decade—until she died at age 100 in 2010. Indeed, Granny D celebrated her last birthdays lobbying for campaign finance reform at the capitol of her native New Hampshire.

So it was entirely fitting that, as dozens of New Hampshire communities voted this month on resolutions urging their state to take a stand in favor of amending the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, many of them referred to the town meeting proposals as “Granny D Warrant Articles.”

The Granny D Warrant Articles—which rejected the high court calculus that afforded corporations the same political rights as human being—proved to be exceptionally popular.

Organizers report that fourty-seven New Hampshire communities went on record in favor of the "Democracy Is For People" amendment, and more are in the process of doing so.

Most of the amendment proposals won big.

In a number of smaller towns, the vote was unanimous. In bigger communities, it was often overwhelming—in Pelham, the votes was 2235 in favor versus 1051 against; in Hampstead, it was 1098-391; in Atkinson, it was 1003-460.

The dozens of New Hampshire communities that have called for an amendment push the total number of towns, villages and cities that have moved to amend well over 500. In addition, 16 states have formally asked Congress to begin the amendment process.

The goal of the New Hampshire town meeting campaign this year—which was backed by Public Citizen’s Democracy is for People project, along with the New Hampshire Coalition for Open Democracy and national groups such as Move to Amend—was to create grassroots pressure on the state legislature to make New Hampshire the seventeenth state to call for an amendment.

The New Hampshire State House voted 189-139 last year to call on Congress to support an amendment to the US Constitution to make it clear that corporations are not people with constitutional rights. Ten Republican representatives joined Democrats in supporting that resolution.

The New Hampshire Senate has yet to join the House's call. So the town meeting campaign was organized to encourage Senate action. And the organizers were well pleased with the results. As Democracy Is For People's Jonah Minkoff-Zern explained, "With the voting results, the polls and grassroots organizing, it is crystal clear that the residents of New Hampshire want to join the nationwide movement and become the seventeenth state to call for a constitutional amendment to stop the flood of money from corporations and the ultra-wealthy into our elections."

In addition to adding another state to the national list, the New Hampshire town meeting campaign sought to build a muscular pro-amendment movement in the nation’s first-presidential primary state.

And it honored Doris Haddock's legacy as a reformer.

In Granny D’s hometown of Dublin, that legacy was discussed as citizens prepared to vote.

“Doris was one of the most illustrious of Dublin’s citizens,” declared Mary Loftis, who referred to the measure as the “Doris ‘Granny D’ Haddock” Warrant Article when she introduced it.

The town voted "yes"—by a wide margin.

“Basically if money talks, Citizens United gave it a voice that can drown out the rest of us,” Patrick Armstrong told the Dublin town meeting. “I think [Granny D] would also be in favor of this.”

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That’s good thinking with regard to the woman who believed—and told us frequently—that “we must declare our independence from the corrupting bonds of big money in our election campaigns.”

STAY TUNED: The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on what experts and activists refer to as "Citizens United 2.0." The court could use the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision to allow big donors to flood even more money into the campaigns of favored candidates. A "Money Out/Voters In" coalition of activist groups is organizing a "rapid response" campaign of rallies, marches and protests. Learn more here.

 

Read Next: Katrina vanden Heuvel on the 'next Citizens United.' 

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