The Power Of The Mom Vote

“We’re a country with some serious mother issues.” - Joanne Bamberger, author and blogger.


While watching the new Ken Burns/PBS miniseries Prohibition the other night, I was struck by a factoid that I’d forgotten: Women, mothers specifically, were at the center of the temperance movement that led to the successful passage of the 18th amendment to the Constitution. Sure, it was one that was later repealed, but hey, these ladies succeeded in banning booze before they even won the right to vote (which was the very next amendment).


In spite of the obstacles in front of them, the mothers who supported temperance and the women’s vote were there, in the middle of it all, marching, lobbying and rallying, as well as raising their kids. And that was before they had all the cushy stuff we take for granted like microwave ovens, Target, smartphones, minivans and easily available take-out (like the subs I bought for my kids for dinner tonight). So why does it seem as though now, in the year 2011, the notion of mothers being involved in politics is still depicted as some kind of anomaly or fleeting trend?


Despite the activist history of the women’s suffrage and temperance movements, decades later even Jackie Kennedy considered politics as a males-only domain. In newly released tapes of a 1964 interview with a former political advisor to her late husband, Kennedy said: “I think women should never be in politics. We’re just not suited to it.” Of women who were what she described as “violently liberal,” Kennedy said they were likely “scared of sex,” and suggested that two well known political women of that era were lesbians.


Even after the women’s movement of the 1970s, it stuns me that women continue to confront biases and hurdles in politics. From former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, mothers, in 2011, are the odd ones out in the political arena. When it comes to political activism, punditry and general political conversation, it’s assumed by many that the women raising today’s generation of kids would rather discuss issues like logistics of the carpool, cupcake recipes and who has the best sale on kids’ winter boots than the latest on the 2012 presidential race.


But Joanne Bamberger, who goes by the handle "PunditMom" on her blog and in her columns, thinks it’s time to put to rest this misguided notion that mothers are not interested in politics because, she asserts, that’s just not the case.