In the book, Mothers’ of Intention: How Women and Social Media Are Revolutionizing Politics In America, author, journalist, political analyst, and Pundit Mom, Joanne Bamberger writes from experience. In a Moms Clean Air Force exclusive interview, Bamberger tells moms why…
Having an opinion never goes out of style.
MCAF: What made you become an activist?
JB: Even though I have a background in journalism, and an interest in politics, being more activist in my writing has come with age and with becoming a mother. In that role, you see how things really, truly work in the world. When you are 18 and in college, you have one idea of how the world works. For most of us that changes as we get older.
When I stopped practicing law and went back to writing full-time, I wrote opinion pieces for the Washington Examiner. I fell in love with that type of writing and journalism. I found it very empowering to know that there were opportunities where you could write and make an argument, as opposed to being a more traditional journalist writing feature stories.
Once I found this comfort zone – having learned how to make an argument and combine that with my writing, it really made me want to be an activist. I started to explore that style of writing, and combined it with thinking about what the world looked like as a mother with a daughter. And when I put all this together, I realized I really wanted to write and be active in more causes that advocated for politicians who believed in the things that I believed in.
MCAF: Can you describe any common themes for the women whose work you highlight in Mothers of Intention that shows us how moms can become active?
JB: First, these women wrote about what was on their minds, what they wanted to do to make change, and how they wanted to get involved. One of the major threads is that they all used social media (or can we call it online media!?) Because of this explosion of communities online, and the women’s abilities to write, network and develop relationships online; they have really been empowered by this new venue to talk about what’s important to them. These moms can now talk about advocacy in ways that we don’t really get to read or hear about in more traditional media. This is because the other thread that connects these women truly is their motherhood and family experiences. It gives them this perspective, “How does whatever topic they’re writing about impact what the world is going to look like for my children in the future?”
MCAF: What is it about being a mother that’s powerful and motivating?
JB: It’s your legacy – having children ups your ante in the human sweepstakes. As adults, before we have kids, we each have a certain vision of what we want the world to look like, what is the right way for the government to be, or which politicians we want elected.
But until you have children, you’re not really thinking about what things are going to look like for the next generation…and the next generation after that, because it’s simply not as personal. Once you have children, you start thinking, “Three generations from now, are we going to be able to breathe the air, or will we be walking around with ventilators?” When its your kids, you think about, “How is it going to affect my child?” Everyone wants the best for their children – no one wants them to breathe polluted air or polluted dirty water.
The experience of parenthood motivates people to advocate for things and think about things in ways that you can’t really think about when you don’t have children. Even if you have other family members or have young nieces and nephews, there’s something about having your own child, and feeling that you are personally responsible for the next generation and beyond, that affects how you respond or react to different and certain issues like clean air and the environment.
MCAF: How would you advise moms to get active?
JB: So many moms are involved in some online community in one way or another, so I would say, see if there is an established community online where you can get information on a topic you feel strongly enough to advocate about. Then, reach out to them and find a way you can be involved – even if it’s just signing a petition online. Many organizations already make it very easy for parents to engage. You can sign up for newsletters – get an alert about what’s going on in your statehouse or DC. There are organizations that help people stick their toe in the water of activism and to see how it resonates. If you’re a person who has a blog, or are part of a blogging community, you already have a level of comfort putting words out there. So find a topic that’s important to you and write about it.
Mothers should realize that everyone struggles with work, family, and obligations from friends and family. It is hard to find time to make room for what might seem to be an extra thing. They think, “Can’t I just leave it to other people?” But there are lots of opportunities to try even one thing and go from there.
MCAF: Why do you advocate for kids and clean air?
JB: The easy answer is who doesn’t want clean air!? But the more thoughtful answer is that we have so many kids that have asthma – it’s such a prevalent thing today. When I was my child’s age, if someone had asthma, that was really unusual. Now, we take for granted that there are just a certain number of kids who will have issues breathing. We know that it’s not something they were born with – there are environmental factors that affect how kids breathe. If there is something that we can do to lessen that, why wouldn’t we?
Why wouldn’t we, indeed. Well said, Joanne. Well said!
Are you a mom or dad ready to get involved? Do you care about protecting the air your children breathe? Do you care about how decisions made today will affect future generations? If so, then please follow these 3 easy steps to advocate for clean air: