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

“My husband and I don’t want a reporter at our residence, for confidentiality purposes,” Christi Becker says when I ask if I can set up an interview with her and her friends, so we agree to a neutral meeting place, the St. Cloud, Minnesota, public library. I’m on the first leg of what will stretch into a many-month journey to understand the new restlessness of conservative women. It’s a cold October afternoon in 2010, and a hard rain pounds the sheet glass windows of the second-floor conference room where we’ve gathered, snacks in hand, a jumble of purses and cell phones on a table in the back. From here we can see Lake George and its surrounding park, the place where this previously apolitical group of moms attended their first Tea Party Patriots rally—which so stirred them up that they soon signed up for a 23-hour bus ride to Washington, D.C., in November 2009, to protest the health care bill.

Becker, a trim woman in a miniskirt and high-heel boots, pops a baby carrot in her mouth and leans forward as she describes the moment of her political awakening. “I realized it wasn’t organizations organizing the buses” going to D.C., she says. “It was two moms. At the time, I was totally broke. But I just felt so strongly about it.” The trip from Minnesota cost $200, so Becker, a freelance artist, asked her parents to “sponsor” her, which they did. “My husband thought I was crazy,” she says.

Tracy O’Connor, another recently converted activist, also went to the D.C. protest, after learning about it on a conservative website called As a Mom. “It was Friday night, and I’m like, ‘We need to get in the car right now and get down there!’ ” O’Connor says. Her political awakening occurred around the time Barack Obama became president, which is when she started visiting As a Mom. Founded by Lori Parker, a Texas mother of four, the members-only site dubs itself “a sisterhood of mommy patriots” and says it aims to “mobilize principled mothers” and “stand up for our nation’s Constitution.” It became a hit after Parker made an appearance on the Glenn Beck program in 2009 and the clip went viral on -YouTube; the site has since become a gathering place for women who want to air their grievances about government. “I felt the things that made this country great were being systematically crushed, and I just felt helpless,” says O’Connor, whose son served in Iraq. “I had these views for so long, but I felt alone. People agreed with me, but they weren’t passionate about it like I was.”

“Nobody was talking about it,” says Becker.

“Nobody was doing anything,” says Berni Doll, Becker’s mother.

Conversations with other women on As a Mom made O’Connor feel part of an instant community. “I was like, ‘Yeah! That’s how I feel, too!’ ” she says. Suddenly she couldn’t sit at home anymore. “Conservative women, we didn’t get up and start moving around until we felt like, ‘This is it . . .’ when you feel like your kids’ future is threatened.” Besides opposing the health care bill, O’Connor blames Obama for the country’s economic troubles. She has become politically active as a way of protecting her children, and she says her 23-year-old son, who is back from the war, feels the same. “He brings up stuff that I didn’t know,” she says. “He plans on voting this year for the first time.”

Becker is equally critical of Obama. “The health care bill is not a health care bill. It’s a big tax bill,” she says. She has always been conservative but got more involved after one of her daughter’s teachers showed his eighth-grade class Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth without letting them know that some scientists dispute the message of the film. “He wanted to know why I was asking all these questions,” she says. “Well, I’m her parent. I want to know what you’re telling her in class!”

“All this is part of worrying about what world we’re going to have for our children,” Doll says. “I have a great-granddaughter in this city.”

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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