Everyone needs to be an activist in this world. ~Sarah Corbitt, founder of Craftivist Collective
I read an article last week about Rachel Maddow. (Side note that it was a great article, and you should go check it out HERE.)
But in the midst of its description of Maddow’s rise in popularity, it referred to Rachel’s audience as being full of “MSNBC Moms,” a label having been bestowed upon millions of women nationwide by another opinion writer back in 2018.
I won’t lie. That one stuck in my craw.
Per their definition, an “MSNBC Mom” is a woman “who feels that the election has radicalized her; even if she has not moved to the left politically, her liberal sympathies and news consumption have swelled into a suddenly central part of her identity.”
And just like that, with what even the author admitted is a “lightly condescending” label, women are lumped into a group with a flippant name that discounts and undervalues them. Again. (Sigh.)
Because let’s face it – while we all know that moms do yeoman’s work in our society, anything with “mom” attached to it is intended to be given the side eye. Mom jeans. Mom shorts. Soccer mom. (Or worse, soccer-mom hair, which has a particularly unflattering description.)
So while moms are the working horses of the family, we’re also so very uncool.
Is that what we’re going with, then?
That women who were snapped out of complacency by the 2016 election and have made politics and activism the central part of their lives are something to snicker at, or smirk at, or brush off as being “just another mom thing”?
Because last I checked, women 35+ are the number one demographic that’s targeted for nonprofit donations. We’ve been hailed as leaders of The Resistance. And even though the mainstream media has preferred to talk to Trump supporters about the injustice of their white male rage over a bottomless cup of bad coffee at a midwestern truck stop, our collective anger has spawned studies and books (check out Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad) and sustained, strategic, effective activism. (And quite a few political candidates and, now, elected officials.)
But because an opinion writer wrote a piece about her mom and her mom’s friends and called them “MSNBC moms,” our efforts are cheapened. Made “less than.” And of course MSNBC has to underline the cheapness by churning out a line of coffee mugs, totes, and T-shirts. (I’m not kidding. WHO RUNS THEIR MARKETING DEPARTMENT?)
Listen, most women I know were crying hysterically on their couches in November 2016 because we knew the impact the election would have on our lives, and on our kids’ lives. Most of us were told we were overreacting. Usually by people who were (you guessed it) giving us the side eye.
We found solace in one another, and anxiety relief in doing something to slow this administration’s roll. Some through activism they fit into their regular lives (ahem, some “small deeds”), others through wholesale changes in their professional and personal existence.
So did that election “radicalize” us? Mmmm. Maybe. It’s probably more accurate to say that it woke us up.
Were we – are we – right to center ourselves on politics right now? Well think about where we’ve been:
Russian interference, muslim bans, transgender bans, open drilling season on nationally protected lands, deregulation of oil and gas, leaving the Paris Climate Agreement, near success in repealing the ACA, shrugging when a Washington Post journalist was strangled and dismembered by Saudis, secret conversations with Putin (still not revealed), Kavanaugh, revealing code-word protected information to the Russian ambassador in a meeting in the Oval Office, firing the FBI director to “relieve pressure,” the love affair with “Little Rocket Man,” the decision to revoke medical waivers for kids getting life-saving treatment in our country, obvious pocket-padding and funneling funds via Trump properties, abandoning our allies across the world…
Oh, and then there’s the whole Ukraine thing that’s going to end in impeachment.
I could go on. And on. And on and on and on and on….
There’s a real desire, understandable as it may be, to shrug off this collective fear and legitimate anxiety as some quaint thing “those suburban women” are doing. It’s so much easier to laugh and assign the “mom” label to it, so it feels less urgent. Less important. Less existential.
Because if you sit back and realize that the people who are on the front lines fighting against this administration are most closely associated with yoga pants and merlot…
That not every executive is up in arms, screaming about the destruction of America’s brand and name and identity …
That not every schoolteacher is teaching media literacy and the history of how regimes use rifts in cultures to take power…
That not every media outlet is cutting off and calling out this administration’s lies…
That not every politician – regardless of party – is standing up for the very idea of our nation and the institutions that hold the delicate fabric of democracy together …
When you sit back and realize that it’s the moms that are doing the heavy lifting? Well, that’s uncomfortable. Because moms are supposed to sit over there in the back corner of life, waiting patiently to be relevant again.
But suddenly after the 2016 election we realized that, even if we were in that little corner of life, if nobody else was going to do what needed to be done, we sure as hell would.
So were we – are we – MSNBC moms?
Well, politics has become a “central part of our identity.” And we have become radicalized by the idea that our country is being destroyed.
So based on their definition, the question isn’t whether we’re all MSNBC moms.
The question is why everyone else isn’t.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of October 8, 2019
Tuesday: Text With Open Progress!
In the survey a few weeks back (thank you!! results next week!) many of you said that you appreciate actions that don’t require a phone call – either because you dread being on the phone, or because you dread talking to the nitwit intern on the other end of the line.
I get it.
So this week I’m all about other things you can do besides calling your congresscritters.
First off, join Open Progress for their texting team.
Open Progress has a texting program for voter registration – one of THE most important things we can do right now with this much time before 2020. Texting is easy, and because of the software they use, your personal phone number will NOT show up on the cell phone of whomever you contact.
If you’ve not texted for a campaign before, try it out! Go to: https://www.openprogress.com/text-troop
Wednesday: Postcards For Virginia
Virginia holds its big elections in the “off cycle,” meaning that their state legislature is up for election this November.
You probably remember the excitement surrounding the November 2017 elections (hello Danica Roehm!) and how the results were such a shot in the arm when we needed a boost.
Same thing here, folks. A good showing will boost our spirits – while a disappointing election where Democrats/progressives lose seats will be demoralizing.
You can help boost turnout by writing a few postcards to voters in Virginia! Note that this project is through Postcards4Virginia – not Postcards to Voters.
Postcards4Virginia encourages personal notes on their postcards, and you can write postcards now through October 15, when they all need to be sent. Go to www.postcards4va.com to learn more.
Thursday: More Registrations, Please!
It’s been a year since Jason Kander stepped back from politics and sought treatment for PTSD. That was a courageous move, and it’s no doubt saved many lives.
But Jason Kander also started an organization called Let America Vote that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves since he stepped away from the limelight.
One of their really interesting projects is called “Cap, Gown, Vote!”
As the name suggests, it’s an initiative aimed at registering high school voters across the country. Although it’s aimed at high school students who want to become ambassadors and register their friends, there are great resources for non-high school students. We can reach out to mayors to encourage participation, help find students to be ambassadors, and create easy ways for students to register.
This is definitely something to check out to give you some ideas on how to promote voter registration in your community. Check it out at: https://capgownvote.org/activist
Friday: Reclaim Our Vote!
Can you tell I’m hyper focused on voter registration these days? (I am.)
HT to Rogan’s list for bringing this one to my attention. Lean Left is partnering with Reclaim our Vote to call de-registered voters in advance of the voter registration deadline (October 15). These are folks that had their names removed from the rolls for any number of reasons, and they might not even know it happened.
As an added bonus, this is completely non-partisan.
Again, these calls have to be made before October 15! Go to: https://www.leanleftvt.org/phonebankingreclaim-our-vote to learn more.
WHEW! GO, TEAM! SUPER PROUD OF YOU!
P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!
P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.