MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE—Eleven days after the most expensive mid-term election in US history, New Hampshire activists will gather on Saturday, November 15 at Manchester Community College to learn how to make their own voices heard in the run-up to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Open Democracy, and NH Peace Action, the 2014 “Democracy in Action” conference will focus on reducing the influence of corporations and big money on American politics.
“Fifty years after President Eisenhower warned the nation about the unwarranted influence of the military-industrial-complex, the problem has only gotten worse,” said Will Hopkins, Director of NH Peace Action. “Now, it’s ultra-wealthy individuals and a wide range of corporate interests that are drowning out the voices and votes of ordinary citizens,” said Hopkins, an Iraq war veteran.
“In New Hampshire we have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the candidates,” said Olivia Zink, AFSC’s Grassroots Engagement Coordinator, “and with a bit of training and planning, we can make sure they hear our concerns about corporate influence and big money.”
“It’s no surprise that nine in ten Americans believe special interest money holds excessive influence in politics or that eight in ten Americans support limits on campaign spending,” observed Dan Weeks of Open Democracy, who noted that nearly $50 million was spent just on the recent campaign for the US Senate. “That’s about $100 for everyone who voted, and most of it was spent on negative ads,” Weeks said.
The Democracy in Action conference will take place from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 15. It will include workshops on campaign skills, especially how to communicate effectively with electoral candidates through a process activists call “bird-dogging.” Other workshops will examine news-media relations, bringing resolutions to Town Meetings, free speech rights, and public speaking. Topical workshops will focus on corporate influence over foreign policy, health care, and environmental matters, plus others dealing with the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, corporate influence on state policy, and the impact of the money-driven political system on efforts to reduce poverty.
Participants will also learn about AFSC’s “Governing Under the Influence” project, Open Democracy’s proposals for campaign reform, and the NH Rebellion’s plans for “Granny D” walks in January.
Following the conference, attendees will have an opportunity to see a new documentary film, “Pay 2 Play,” which exposes the influence of money on our political system and explores steps to put voters back in control.
Manchester Community College is located at 1066 Front Street in Manchester. Admission is free. Participants are strongly encouraged to pre-register. Additional information is available at: http://afsc.org/event/democracy-action-conference.
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization supported by people of many faiths who care about social justice and peace. It’s NH Primary season project focuses on excessive corporate influence in American politics.
Open Democracy is a New Hampshire organization founded by Doris “Granny D” Haddock to strengthen democracy and stop the corrupting influence of special interest money in politics.
New Hampshire Peace Action is a statewide group working to end wars, eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide, and shift resources from war-making to programs that meet human needs.
In addition to AFSC, NH Peace Action, and Open Democracy, the conference is also supported by People for the American Way, Public Citizen, the Stamp Stampede, NH Sierra Club, Free Speech for People, and Granite State Progress.