Friday, August 28, 2009

Making Politics Palatable to Moms

A while ago, I signed up to receive emails from the political group MomsRising. The organization advocates for progressive, family-friendly policies such as paid family leave, expanded health care coverage for children, and better-quality child care options. I support these causes, but I was hesitant to join MomsRising because they are linked to

I remember well when MoveOn ran a notorious full-page ad in the New York Times in 2007 that criticized the war in Iraq by making fun of General Petraeus' name. I am constantly telling my children not to tease other people (or each other), but MoveOn had no problem with name-calling. Should an organization that uses ridicule to advance its objectives provide political leadership to mothers?

And what does it mean, exactly, to organize mothers into a political entity advocating for improvements in child health and other family-friendly causes? Are American mothers that cohesive ideologically - or that easily lead? If they are, I'm not sure I want them to be.

When MomsRising - or other political or social organizations - send emails summarizing an issue and include a simple "click here to send a letter to your senator" button, I get a bit suspicious. If I take the time to do some research, the topic is inevitably more complex than it first appears. Furthermore, MomsRising tries to make political involvement fun, such as decorating a onesie to send to local politicians, or dressing in a superhero cape to advocate for health care reform - an approach akin to making smiley-faces out of your child's vegetables in order to persuade her to eat them. They forget that mothers are adults, not children.

I'd like to see less drama and more thoughtfulness from an organization that advocates for mothers and families, particularly if they're going to talk about such a fraught issue as health care reform. Moms (and Dads) need to flex their critical thinking skills. It's following without thinking, believing rumors and hearsay about health and health care instead of facts and reports, that gets everyone in trouble in the first place.