“Moms Matter” – Connecting Mothers & Politics

I’ve always been interested and invested in politics in one way or another. Whether that meant student government in high school, campaigning for politicians in college, teaching a current events class that covered both local, national, and international politics to high school seniors, or volunteering for Planned Parenthood during election time – I was there, learning about the various issues, and figuring out which candidates would be the best fit for me.

While I know that voter turnout isn’t the best it can be, I never quite understood what prevented people from engaging in the democratic process that is our electoral system. How could you not be invested in who would be running our country or state or city? I know many people are frustrated with politics – I get that, I truly do (I’m frustrated as well!) – but one of the easiest ways to voice your frustration is to get involved in politics and make your voice heard with your vote.

Women, especially, need to ensure that their voices are being heard. We currently have issues intimately tied to women being brought up for vote at both national and state levels. It is essential for women to learn about these issues and learn about where the candidates stand on them.

Women consistently have higher voter turnout rates than men, so their votes SHOULD matter to politicians. Their thoughts, ideas, concerns, and hopes regarding our government  should be of utmost concern to those running for office. With these thoughts in mind, the website CafeMom created “Moms Matter 2012,” a section of their site devoted to connecting mothers and politics.

Moms Matter 2012 is a space for mothers to share their views on what matters to them. Scattered in amongst polls, articles, and statistics are videos from various women sharing their own personal stories as they relate to the upcoming election. Lindsay Ferrier, a writer for CafeMom, has been traveling around the country gathering these stories for the site. I recently had the chance to ask her some questions about Moms Matter and why she feels it’s important to have women involved in politics.

Lindsay Ferrier

What prompted you to get involved in CafeMom’s Moms Matter 2012 campaign?
What were/are you hoping by being involved in it?

Lindsay: Many moms have told me that they’re tuning out of this election- some because they’re tired of the game playing in Washington, others because they feel they don’t have enough unbiased information about the candidates and the issues. My goal in all of my coverage is to give them what they need to feel empowered, informed, and inspired to go to the polls in November- no matter which candidate they select.

Why do you feel that there isn’t normally a huge focus on this particular
group of voters (especially when women have higher rates of voter turnout)?
What could change that?

I actually am seeing the focus turn to moms in this election, particularly so-called “Walmart Moms,” single moms, and Latina moms. They’re being viewed as potential game changers in this election, and I think we’ll be hearing much more about their perspective from the media once we have a Republican nominee.

Do the moms you’ve spoken with feel like candidates are trying to reach out
to them/their concerns? (And if not…why not?)

Our survey results show that moms don’t feel that the candidates can relate to their real, every day concerns. They want to trust the candidates, but most moms I’ve talked to feel the system is rigged to create candidates who are most concerned about saying what they think people want to hear– not what they truly believe.

You’ve met and filmed a lot of different moms across the country who have
shared their stories. In talking to these women, what surprised you about
their stories? What didn’t?

I love interviewing these women because regardless of their backgrounds, their belief systems, or their personal stories, I believe that other women will be able to find a common bond when they take the time to listen to them– and realize that we’re not so different from each other after all.

What political issues have been the top ones that most mothers seem to be
focused on in this upcoming election. Why do you think that is?

Moms are most focused on the economy and on job creation. They stay awake at night worrying about how they’re going to pay their grocery bills. They can’t seem to get ahead in this economy, and they want recovery as soon as possible.

I’ve noticed that there in an array of polls on the site – some serious,
others not so much. How do you reconcile questions like “Which candidate
would you let change your baby’s diaper?” with the seriousness of politics?
Do you feel like those types of questions (ones that have nothing to do with
actual political issues) detract from the overall message that mom’s matter
in elections?

Like it or not, research shows that voters base their decisions not only on a candidate’s policies, but also on their “gut feelings” about a candidate. If a candidate doesn’t come across as likeable or trustworthy, he’s going to have a very hard time getting a mom’s vote. We take all of this into account when we’re asking questions of our members — and if we can gauge that “gut feeling” in a fun way, why not?

What do you hope the result (or effect) of Moms Matter 2012 will be on the
upcoming presidential election?

I hope that Moms Matter convinces more moms to go to the polls in November, of course, but I also hope that it empowers more moms to speak up and make their opinions known.

* * * 

What say you all? Is Moms Matter 2012 an effective way of having women’s voices heard? Will it help increase voter turnout? What can we be doing to further ensure our voices & votes are heard?

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