Do not hang back from involvement in addressing the problems of the world, waiting to become an expert. You are expert enough. Take your part in the great dramas and the great struggles now still in their opening acts in this world. It is the part where you storm on stage with a confused but mischievous look and the audience cheers you madly. Don’t wait to know the part too well, or the moment will pass without you.
- Doris “Granny D” Haddock, 93, is the chairwoman of the “Our Town Votes” project. She walked across the U.S. in 2000 to support cleaner campaigns with fewer strings attached to special interests and is a personal “shero” of the MAU Founders!
Declare it in our houses of government…
This is perhaps our most important role—when we stand in our houses of government and prove we are a force to be reckoned with. US policies affect every child on earth and touch every corner of our lives. It’s time mothers* have a hand in shaping these policies. Our government legislators have been hired to spend our tax dollars and make decisions that will affect all of us for generations to come. They depend on our feedback to let them know what we want! Never be sheepish about speaking up on an issue, even repeatedly; that is our job in a democracy. Remember: you are their ally—build a relationship with them. FYI: respect, tenacity and accurate information go a long way toward being heard.
Search for the truth. With all these candidates vying for your favor, how do you separate the schmooze from the truth? The speeches all sound good, but you have to ask yourself— “Is this guy kissing my baby because he likes my baby, wants my vote, or because he’s committed to funding programs that support kids?” REALLY good question! Visit their websites and watch the paper for an opportunity to see them in the flesh. Spend one hour checking out their backgrounds, issue positions, voting records and campaign finances. The Mothers Acting Up website will lead you to all the links you need to get informed.
Voice your opinion. Contact your government leaders. Your first call to the White House may be scary, (in truth, the White House has the world’s nicest comment line operators), but after that you’re a pro. Memorize the White House comment line telephone number and ring it up every time you see an issue in the newspaper that you are drawn to. The operators keep a tally of yeas and nays and send them to the President at the end of the day.
This same call-in process works for US senators, Congressional members, state legislators and city council members. They really pay attention to how many calls they have received in favor (or not) of an issue!
White House Comment Line 1-202-456-1414 Capitol Switchboard 1-202-224-3121 (US Legislators)
Calls are always important, emails less so, but LETTERS are terrific. A HANDWRITTEN letter has more influence than a computer-generated one with words like, “therefore” and “inasmuch” and “whereas.” A personal letter lets your representatives know that there’s a real person out there who knows what’s up and can (gasp!) organize. Fax your handwritten letter, as the mail can be pretty squirrelly these days.
Get to know your elected officials. It’s time to let your candidates know you are passionate, courageous, and informed and that you VOTE! After you have a few calls and letters under your belt, it’s time to deepen your relationship with the folks who do most of the work—the aides. Call your legislators’ offices and ask for the aide who focuses on children’s welfare. Tell them you are a Mother* Acting Up and would like to be sent all information regarding the candidate’s stand on children’s welfare. YOU ARE ALLIES—know their names, passions and point of view. Ask for them in the future. A good relationship with an aide can get your voice heard in that office. “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you…” Hum along….
Field trips are fun! Are you up for a visit? Now that you have a working relationship, and even if you don’t, taking a trip to your elected representative’s office can be very powerful. Organize a group of mothers* and children to discuss specific and timely issues. We did this after the start of the Iraq war so that children could ask their questions—going directly to the source—to key decision makers. Children tend to be more straightforward in their questioning and often demand this same response from their leaders. Mothers Acting Up website has a recipe for Field Trips which will walk you through the 1, 2, 3’s of setting up a field trip. Read the recipe and modify it as you see fit.