For Democrats, the Iowa Caucuses was a huge cluster for more than just the shit ton of obvious reasons. They left out one of the most important voters: MOMS. Specifically: Suburban Moms.
We can swoon romantically over the idea of all the presidential candidates shaking a million hands and eating a million Tater Tot Hot Pots. But this is not beer pong, for chrissakes. This is not Swiss Family Robinson picnic at the local library. The Stable Genius is still in The White House and it is going to take every single fiber of left-wing grit and tenacity to save us from a hellscape of four more years.
And it’s going to take The Mommas.
Allowing the Iowa Caucus to play such an outsized role in culling the field of Democrat presidential candidates is patently, utterly ridonkulous. Leaving out the Moms, as the caucuses do — however unintentional — is an unforced error of consequential significance.
Monday night, I was as excited as the rest of everybody to watch the political square dances from Des Moines to Sioux City. In full Super Bowl hangover recovery mode, I sat there with my Topo Chico and judgy attitude to see if my expectations would be confirmed.
Well, Sweet Peas, as all the MSNBC camera shots from all the caucus locations spanned the crowds, they revealed nary — NARY(!) — a mom or a dad in their thirties or forties, i.e. parents of minor children. Leaving your kids somewhere or with someone so you can go play political sock hop is not an option for most moms. Or working people. Or the sick and elderly. Gah!
Caucuses are more like the Olympics of disenfranchisement than an esteemed political tradition of candidate selection.
Granted, there were probably a few Suburban Moms peppered in with the old and the young dedicated participants. And hats off to Team Elizabeth Warren for the free childcare during the delegate wrangling. And perhaps I should wait for the demographic data to roll in before I loosen the Sword of Damocles; but I already knew from common sense and anecdotal reality what was confirmed by the coverage: Caucuses are not welcoming to Suburban Moms.
This is mission critical.
Suburban Moms are major power brokers in elections and it’s not OK for the Democrat party to exclude them because of some bullshit like tradition and sentimentality. My guess is that Amy Klobuchar would have picked up more delegates and Pete Buttigieg less had the Democrats of Iowa had a more inclusive electoral system. No, I’m not a statistical genius, despite what I tell my kids.
It should not be an unfortunate side effect of the caucus process that moms don’t get to participate. It should be unacceptable.
Furthermore, while caucuses are inherently undemocratic and arcane, they aren’t the only headwinds the Democratic Party faces in attracting Suburban Mom engagement, which — in turn — attracts more Suburban Mom votes.
And that’s what the whole future of our world depends on. So, work with me.
As a card-carrying member of the Suburban Mom Cohort here in Dallas, Texas, I recently attended an event for Democrat Primary Senate Candidate MJ Hegar. There were maybe two other moms in the crowd and I’m really stretching with one of them because she looked young and spritely.
One of the questions from the 97%-ish white crowd, 90%-ish old people crowd, (that’s my statistical genius estimate) was what MJ was doing to court the minority vote. And that was a good, solid question that matters. I was glad someone asked it. And she had a good, solid answer.
The problem is, it never would dawn on people to ask, “What are you doing to attract suburban moms?” And make no mistake, the Republicans will be using all the power in their arsenal to bring these women back to the Death Star.
The packed room was a positive sign that progressive voters are ready to rock and roll come the fall. But it will all be for naught if Democrats cannot convince moms to show up at the ballot box in overwhelming numbers.
The Democratic path to victory for most state houses, statewide races, and national elections runs through the suburbs. Democrats are simply not doing enough to motivate these moms to get fired up to save the country from the Lord of the Flies Tea Party Spawn cannibalizing our federal government.
Yes, 2018 was a banner year for Democrats bringing home the Suburban Mom vote. But it’s not looking like there’s going to be a fight over placing A Frothy Angry White Man With A Credible Sexual Assault Allegation Against Him on the Supreme Court to motivate The Moms to come out as in 2018. Democrats don’t have a Second-Coming-of-Christ candidate like they did with Obama on whom to rest their laurels. And the Iowa Caucus turnout numbers were less than encouraging.
What It Will Take:
There are a lot of demographic groups Democrats will have to reach to swell the numbers needed to throw out Trump.
Suburban Moms are in the top tier of dependable, effective, gettable, un-gerrymandered, un-supressed electoral bouillon. There are vast oodles of potential momma voters who, in 2016, “Didn’t vote for Trump, but didn’t vote for Hillary” and are convertible. I talk to them every day.
One more thing. Suburban Moms are no longer simply college-educated, white women. Every year, more and more members of minority and marginalized communities are moving to the ‘burbs — a huge percentage of them moms. They’re just as hungry and ready for meaningful civic engagement.
It is unclear whether the Democrat Party has the chops or bandwidth it takes to effectively engage these women and ensconce them into the movements for more responsible and progressive legislation. Moms Demand Action, now the biggest player for common sense gun reform, is kicking ass and taking names without being beholden to the national party machine.
Indivisible has also established itself as a political power house helping individuals across the country launch localized movements for change that coalesce into national results. There are avenues for moms to find their way to supporting a Democrat candidate for president; but, in a lot of battleground areas, those avenues are not obvious, nor are they easy.
A lot more needs to be done. There needs to be a new model for civic engagement that understands the Suburban Mom challenges and way of life and helps them overcome the myriad specific hurdles they face to political action. Caucuses are not that. And remember: if you get The Moms’ votes, there’s a good chance you get their future voters’ votes, too.
I’m not just here to bitch and moan. With the few crumbs of time I have each day to work toward a brighter future for my kids and everyone else’s, I’ll be exploring the best ways I can be the change I want to see. Whether that means a newsletter and meetings and a podcast and spreading the message of MomsRising.org, I’m in.
I’ll also be writing a lot more on the Suburban Mom vote to help shed light on these ladies since everyone in the media likes to talk ABOUT Suburban Moms but none of them ARE Suburban Moms. I’ll be the Jack Hanna embed for the demographic, so to speak.
Winning the election is doable. But it will take everyone. It will take black people, brown people. It will take the young and the old and a bunch of the rural.
It will take the women.
And it will take the moms. The suburban moms.