Updated: Jun 9, 2019
by: Barbara Peterson March 16, 2019
“It’s evident that low-income and working families are not being represented by our elected officials. Rights & Democracy was formed to build a movement across the region to counter the influence of money in politics and to hold elected officials accountable to upholding our rights and the democracy we live in,” said Isaac Grimm, organizing director for Rights & Democracy (RAD) in New Hampshire.
RAD is a member-led, grassroots organization founded in 2016 to help individuals and communities come together around the issues that matter to them. RAD is particularly concerned with involving those who feel disenfranchised from the political process and unrepresented by the policies passed in their communities.
It is clear from the number of people who have joined RAD that there is a yearning in New Hampshire for grassroots change. Groups of concerned citizens have been coalescing into RAD chapters in Manchester, Nashua, Plymouth, Claremont, and the Seacoast. Additionally, grassroots group Monadnock Progressive Alliance in Keene formed around the same time RAD started, and the two groups are closely affiliated.
The power in RAD is that people’s voices are of central importance. The organization engages in mindful and structured methods of building an agenda based on the expressed needs of the people living in New Hampshire. In 2018, for example, they conducted a fulsome and detailed survey, where over 1,000 NH residents responded to state their major areas of concern. The results of the survey helped RAD put together the New Hampshire People’s Platform.
The surveys showed that there was widespread agreement on several issues facing families and individuals in the Granite State. The Platform is a proposal given to state legislatures, telling them that the people of New Hampshire will fight to address their concerns. Thus, RAD is organizing and building a movement to make significant improvements on the following issues: health care for all, strong public education, a livable minimum wage, paid family and medical leave, and issues concerning jobs, justice, and climate.
In addressing the health care issue, RAD seeks to, at the very least, protect the Affordable Care Act instituted by the Obama administration. More than that, however, they are working to build a mandate for Medicaid for All, a system that covers the basics in healthcare as well as eye, dental, hearing, mental health, and pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, as part of the efforts to address the health care issue, RAD is working on policies and programs that will help effectively address New Hampshire’s severe opioid crisis.
The right to a quality education for all, regardless of socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, gender, or geographical region, should be considered a basic human right. RAD is therefore organizing to change New Hampshire’s current property tax system of funding schools in favor of a more equitable system. They are also working to institute debt-free college education for all. Finally, they are fighting against any bills or practices that would use tax dollars to pay for religious and private schools.
Economic issues are another area that RAD is working on. They believe that every individual has a basic human right to a livable wage. Anything less in this wealthy, privileged country is shameful. Access to strong union jobs is also important, and RAD is therefore working to help ensure that New Hampshire residents are supported in their efforts to form powerful labor unions. Additionally, RAD believes every family should have paid leave to attend to the needs of family members who are sick, to one’s own illness, and to the birth and care of a newborn child.
As a final issue represented on the People’s Platform, RAD is committed to transforming New Hampshire’s energy economy into an economy based on environmentally sustainable programs and policies. According to their website, they will fight against the “development of new fossil fuel infrastructure and push greater investment in renewable energy.” Their goal is to help communities convert from fossil fuels to greener technologies so they may build an economy based on renewable energy.
In addition to the People’s Platform, RAD is working in solidarity with allied groups and individuals to promote the rights as well as the just and humane treatment of all groups in society, particularly those most marginalized. Women, members of the LGTBQ+ community, people of color, religious minorities, and undocumented individuals and their families are all in need of compassion and mindful attention to ensure that they have an equal opportunity to live with dignity, physical safety, civil rights, socio-cultural equity, and empowerment. One example of RAD addressing these issues is their aligning with other groups to put an end to checkpoint stops and searches of undocumented individuals. They are also working to protect the rights of undocumented people living in NH to attain their drivers’ licenses. In addition, RAD is helping to protect women’s reproductive rights and equal pay for equal work. Furthermore, RAD is joining efforts with others to oppose structural and institutional racism in our society.
RAD is also committed to creating more economic equity by addressing such issues as taxation, military spending, and transportation and housing. By requiring the wealthiest in our state to pay their fair share, and by diverting money spent on the military toward education and green energy technologies, RAD is helping build more affordable and sustainable communities where families can travel inexpensively and easily on public transportation that helps reduce our carbon footprint, and where Granite Staters can have a wide range of affordable, quality housing options.
The criminal justice system is another area in which RAD is helping to make improvements. New Hampshire is the only state in all of New England that still has the death penalty. RAD is working with others to try and finally abolish this law. Furthermore, RAD is aligning with other groups to remove the requirement of having formerly incarcerated individuals report their criminal status to potential employers. They are also working to reduce the prison population by treating drug use as a public health issue rather than a law enforcement issue, including making cannabis legal for sale and use.
Equally important to all of these issues are fair and clean elections in New Hampshire. RAD, in cooperation with others, opposes the so called “residency” restrictions imposed on NH voters with HB1264, and “domicile” restrictions outlined in SB3. RAD also supports the efforts to create an independent redistricting commission for state elections as well as implementing automatic voter registration.
To help individuals and communities organize and build power so they can institute the sorts of changes they feel best serves their needs, Grimm and Grassroots Organizer Heather Stockwell lead training sessions open to the public, called Whole Movement Organizing Training. Anyone, from beginners to veteran activists and organizers, are welcome at the Trainings, which help build necessary knowledge and skills for making positive changes in one’s community. As stated on their website: “Trainees will leave with a deeper understanding of RAD’s theory of change and a grounding in why and how to build local power and a local base of activists working and building relationships together.”
Since 2016, RAD has worked hard to empower people at the local, state, and federal levels. Their mission is to help people connect, organize actions, and form healthy communities whose government policies and cultural practices reflect the people’s values. RAD is committed to empowering people to confront oppression in all its forms, reclaim government so it works for the people, and build healthy, safe, and sustainable communities that we can all enjoy equally.
Supporting Rights & Democracy
Everyone is welcome and encouraged to support RAD by volunteering at an event, join or start a RAD chapter in your region, and/or attend their monthly statewide conference calls. You may also donate to their organization through their website, listed below.
Members, Affiliations, and Contact Information
RAD sits at the America Votes table, and they often work with faith communities and progressive unions.
Whole Movement Training site: http://www.radnh.org/whole-movement-organizing-training/
You can also find RAD New Hampshire on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
RAD-NH is a statewide organization with their main office in Manchester.
Particular Accomplishments since 2016: Knocked 50,000 doors for Maggie Hassan in 2016; helped to flip more than a dozen House and Senate seats in 2017, as well as helping to pass legislation protecting the rights of transgender folks; held CD-1 forum and gubernatorial primary forums in 2018, and knocked 33,000 doors during 2018 election.
When: 5:00-6:30, Sunday March 17th
Where: The Common Man Restaurant, 25 Water Street, Concord, New Hampshire 03301
When: 1-3pm, 2- crowd canvass @ Monadnock Food Co-op
Where: Keene (Hosts: Mary Ewell, Deb Rainey)
Where: LP Young Student Center, Keene State College Campus
229 Main St, Keene, NH 03435
When: 7:00-8:00pm, 3rd Tuesday every month
Where: Zoom - https://zoom.us/j/159260735 or call +16468769923,,159260735#
Where: LP Young Student Center, Keene State College Campus
229 Main St, Keene, NH 03435
When: 10:00am-3:00pm, Saturday March 23rd
Where: Meet at RAD Office (83 Hanover St, Suite 26, Manchester)
3/26 - Birddogging Training
When: 6:30-8:00pm, Tuesday March 26th
Where: Portsmouth Public Library (175 Parrott Ave, Portsmouth)
Isaac Grimm explains birddogging as follows:
"What is birddogging? It simply means seeking out these candidates as they campaign, pushing them for clear answers on important questions and influencing their position (and public perceptions) on our issues.
We’ve got so many opportunities to get up close and personal with 2020 candidates coming through the Granite State this year, and birddogging is a fun and high-profile way to take advantage of that to advance our campaigns for social, economic and political justice. We want you to be a leader in doing this with us!
Birddogging 101 is a participatory and interactive training that will give community members like you the skills and confidence to birddog presidential candidates and elected officials on the issues facing our communities. This training can also help activists become more effective as lobbyists, union members, interviewees, and in other citizenship roles."
3/27 - Monthly MPA meeting!
Join the Monadnock Progressive Alliance to build the progressive movement in your area, every 4th Wednesday (6:00-8:00pm) 49 Community Way in Keene. (learn more at monadproalliance.org)
4/2 - RAD Nashua Chapter Meeting
When: 6:30-8:00pm, Tuesday April 2nd
Where: Nashua Public Library large meeting room
SAVE THE DATE!
October 13th - The People's Presidential Primary Forum
When: 12:00-3:00pm, Sunday Oct 13th
Where: UNH's Lundholm Gymnasium, 145 Main St, Durham, NH
Co-hosted by NH Youth Movement, Rights & Democracy, and People's Action, this will be THE progressive presidential primary forum for New England.