The Great Awakening of the Mommy Patriots

It doesn’t matter what Sarah Palin does. Or even whether Michele Bachmann runs. What matters is that thousands of conservative women are connecting with their female candidates—and each other—with unexpected passion. This new segment of politically active women has found its voice, and its members don’t plan on shutting up or sitting down in 2012

Christina Bellantoni
Photograph: IIllustrated by Yuko Shimizu

Faced with that kind of devotion, I want to know whether Bachmann returns the favor. I try to reach her while I am in St. Cloud, but she is in the heat of her 2010 re-election campaign, and her spokesman tells me Bachmann is “focused on meeting with constituents over the next two weeks.” In late November, following the election—which Bachmann wins by 13 points after spending $11 million, making hers the most expensive House race in the country—we chat on our cell phones as I scribble notes from our conversation on the back of some scrap paper.

The queen of the Tea Party, who is considering a presidential bid, says this conservative-mom movement “really sprang out of nowhere,” and she credits Twitter, Facebook and the Smart Girl Politics blog for lighting what she calls a fire in the heartland. “These women aren’t going away,” Bachmann says, noting that they’re not necessarily asking to see a woman on the ballot. “You’re not going to see conservative women demand an affirmative action spot on a presidential ticket. You’ll see conservative women rise to the national stage based on their own merit.”

One conservative woman who’s already reached the national stage—and taken her lumps—is Christine O’Donnell, whose failed run for the U.S. Senate in Delaware made national headlines. That is why one month after speaking to Bachmann, I’m speeding through Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, trying to keep my eyes on the road as I frantically text O’Donnell’s spokesman to find out what time she plans to sit down with me. It’s my fourth attempt to meet her after more than 20 requests, and if I’m feeling disconnected, perhaps it’s because almost all of our communications have been via text messages. I spot the creaky, classic Morrison House Hotel on my left and pull up to a parking meter. I don’t have enough quarters, but I don’t care; nailing this interview is worth the cost of a ticket.

Turns out I have plenty of time, as O’Donnell is still meeting over breakfast with some PR professionals who will help her craft her image for the next phase of her career (coming soon: a book, due out in August, about her campaign). Thirty-five minutes later, O’Donnell breezes in with a wide smile and an apology. “God bless you!” she says, laughing when I tell her how I had to harass her spokesman every day for more than a month to get this interview.

She’s prettier in person than on TV. Shivering in her heavy winter coat as cold wind seeps through the door, she sits down on a sofa in the lobby, and I follow. Once settled, O’Donnell tells me that women can’t win on the national political stage. “I don’t think we’re there yet,” she says, staring at me from behind glasses that have purple plastic frames. “I hate to say this: I don’t know if the other female conservatives you’ve spoken to have echoed this, but there’s definitely a double standard.”

She sounds bitter, talking about the “inappropriate treatment” she received during her Senate bid, counting off the handful of females who defended her record. She asks me what I’ve found talking to women around the country, wondering if I am perhaps more hopeful about women’s election chances. I tell her that I don’t believe she had a chance in Delaware, where a majority of voters are Democrats, but that I think in more conservative Pennsylvania, a strong Republican woman candidate could have prevailed.

“You think she could have won?” O’Donnell is incredulous. “I think they would have been calling her a bitch and a whore,” she says. “I mean, I hate to say it, but—you know?”

O’Donnell argues that women won’t be able to reach top political office until they start supporting one another. “Not enough women have each other’s back,” she says. “Women on both sides of the political aisle need to unite so that we can send a message to future female candidates that if you step up into a political arena that is mostly male dominated . . . you’re not going to be alone.”

First Published May 10, 2011

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Allison Roelen05.28.2011

It's refreshing to finally see a magazine, especially a women's magazine recognize that not all women are ultra feminist progressives - One of the key future woman leaders in politics is not included from Ms. Bellatoni - and that is Jaime Radtke who is running for the VA Senate and a force to be reckoned with - she has what it takes, understands the real issues as well as realistic solutions and is a mother above all else - and is running and awaiting the Palinization attacks of the left because she cannot stand by and watch her children's future be destroyed by socialism which has destroyed so many economies and even worse - the gumption for people to be motivated to do their best & innovate - remember this - without a meritocracy there will only be mediocrity - and that is one of the key messages of true conservatives, or as I liken myself - True citizens who honor and revere the Constitution as our founding document - it doesn't need to be re-written it needs to be 're-read' as Herman Cain so aptly said - I hope that MORE and other magazines will be willing to actually participate as journalists - aka unbiased, both sides reporting as well as instead of the on-going nonsensical guilt trips put out to women that if they aren't working, having some fabulous career they're somehow less fulfilled or not even self-actualized - I have been a single working mother for many years and I can tell you that you can't have your cake and eat it too - no one expects men to do this - so why do women in particular slam other women for not 'having it all?' You can't something always has to give and trust me when I say - your family, children and their upbringing are the first priority - this is fundamental to what's breaking down our society.

05.26.2011

"The women are refusing to let me into their homes". The article "The Great Awakening of the Mommy Patriots" begins like a Gothic novel and I was intrigued. Rising at dawn for a 2 hour drive to meet with The Mommy Patriots at a (oh no!) public library to interview women loyal to the Tea Party Movement has annoyed the author, Christian Bellantoni, of the WASHINGTON TIMES. As the ladies munch on carrot sticks, the author compares the "unexpected passion" for conservatism to the adolescent hysterics of meeting a rock star.
So, like any good Gothic heroine, I did some sleuthing. Let's go to Bellantoni's article in the WASHINGTON TIMES dated 01/25/2009 titled "Obama Volunteers Aim To Stay Involved". A group of (10) Obama suppporters were INVITED to lunch at the beautiful Oceanaire Restaurant in Washington, D.C. as guests of, you guessed correctly, THE WASHINGTON TIMES. The praises of the newly elected administration rang out clear as a bell on an old Gothic church. I thought the re-election campaign had started. No wonder Ms. Bellantoni was put upon, no water glasses at the public library?
Unfortunately, no intelligent insight was forthcoming as to the mindset of women conservatives and that's a shame. MORE readers, and I've been subscribing for at least 10 years, deserve better. MORE would benefit by healthy discussions of conservatism by enlisting conservative writers (Ms. Bellantoni is a self-described Liberal). You can email me! Thanks.

05.20.2011

The most passionate conservative Mommy patriot I've met is Kimberly Fletcher (kimberlyfletcher.com). I'm not a Sarah Palin fan at all, but Kimberly's message of encouraging stay-at-home moms to become politically active -- and showing them how they can do it without sacrificing (as they see it) their families is thought-provoking.

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