I’ve said this since the beginning of the fight against California’s AB5, or anti-independent contracting law: What Sacramento’s power brokers are most afraid of is all of us regular folk figuring out that the battle is really us versus them, instead of liberal versus conservative. Because of laws like AB5, which affected Californians of all political and socioeconomic stripes equally, and the pandemic lockdowns and vaccine and mask mandates, regular Californians are banding together against the elites to fight for our right to make a living and for our children.
The failed recall to the contrary, Californians are having success. We know this because instead of ignoring us, the media are beginning a concerted campaign to isolate and marginalize us.
I think it’s too late.
During the Newsom recall, I was heavily involved with the “yes on recall” side, as most conservatives were. What was encouraging and eye-opening to me were the number of women/moms who had never been politically involved and who even fell on the “liberal” side of the aisle who were fed up with the illogical mandates and who saw the consequences of the state’s experiment with the socialist utopia, and were fighting to end the supermajority.
Now, the Sacramento Bee, aided by the Pulitzer Center, has published a multi-part series about “extremism” in California, one of which is headlined:
“Equal opportunity extremism: How women seized the moment in California’s far-right radical politics”
What do they mean by “extremist”? They mean women/moms who are protesting against lockdowns, vaccine mandates, CRT, and speaking out at school board meetings. Yep, if you do that, you are now a radical, an extremist, and are being used by groups “rooted in white male supremacy” to advance an agenda the SacBee claims is anti-feminist, but you’re too dumb to realize that.
The women in extremist coalitions call themselves “mama bears.” They organize homeschooling pods and plan public protests against mask requirements and COVID-19 shots for students. They show up en masse to statehouses, school board meetings and city halls to fight against critical race theory and the “liberal agenda.”
Here’s the tagline:
“For much of the past two years in California, extremists have swarmed protests and local board meetings with a toxic mix of conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric.”
In the piece, the term “mama bear” is sneered at as some kind of dog whistle to indicate a woman with “extreme” and “radical” views. Oh, and if you’re involved in your community and advocate for your children the SacBee and the Pulitzer Center are now linking you with the United Daughters of the Confederacy and infer that you’re a white supremacist unless you can prove otherwise.
That’s totally different than what I’ve seen happening. What I’ve seen is a coalition of moms from across political, religious, economic, ethnic, and racial lines come together to fight for their children, and they’re having success – and that success scares those who would rather make our parenting decisions for us.
“Nobody else can protect my family the way I can,” [Denise] Aguilar said at the boot camp, while wearing a shirt that read “I don’t co-parent with the government.”
Experts also say they’ve noticed that women in extremist circles are co-opting popular slogans from progressive causes — particularly about bodily autonomy — as a messaging strategy. “Instead of it being about abortion,” Aniano said, “it’s about anti-vax conspiracies.”
Of course, the Bee profiled a few “mama bears,” painting their ability to organize, fundraise, and effectively communicate in a sinister light, even saying (not just inferring) that because women are generally less violent than men, that “hate groups” use women in leadership positions as fronts to give off a warm and cuddly image and defy “monitoring.”
That’s a ridiculous characterization, and it would be laughable if so many critical thinking-challenged people didn’t just lap it right up (looking at you, Eric Swalwell).
So, here are a few of the “mama bears” I know, and a few more whose work I’ve admired over the last year or so. Spoiler alert: More than a couple of them have voted for Democrats.
Karina Poszar, a family law attorney from Hermosa Beach:
I voted for Newsom, something I’ve come to deeply regret- I never really bothered with politics, cared much about them, let alone paid any sort of attention at the local level.
When Newsom shut us down and switched our kids to remote learning I decided I was going to vote for Trump. I saw what DeSantis was doing and I knew that his measured response was the appropriate course of action; he made children a priority. My immediate concern regarding the school closures was the amount of child abuse that would go unreported (schools are mandated reporters) as well as an increase in abuse, seeing as children would be at home all day with their abusers. This, coupled with remote learning, which was doomed for failure from the get-go and has resulted in massive learning loss, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, etc. inspired me to learn more about local politics and find ways I can get involved.
Moms are not extremists for wanting their kids in school without ridiculous and pointless non-data-driven Covid mitigation measures, most importantly masks, and vaccine mandates for the lowest risk group. Being called an extremist only motivates me to keep fighting for our kids — for a return to normalcy without politicians and public health “experts” telling us what’s best for our children. We are the parents, we know best, and we must keep fighting. The only politicians fighting to maintain our freedoms are those on the right – it’s an easy choice, and if that makes me an extremist so be it.
Michelle Garcia, a professional photographer:
I became politicized after the passage of the anti-freelance law AB5. Personally I saw how AB5 ended the 34-year teaching and gigging business of close friends, a hard-working husband and wife team who had employed many others and blessed a lot of kids and families and schools and churches in the process. The absolute injustice of a law pushed as “justice for workers” by a union-owned politician who mocked her constituents definitely lit a fire in me and I became more interested in becoming involved politically. I gathered as much information as I could and tried to create awareness about how disastrous AB5 was, spoke with my representatives, supported all efforts to repeal AB5, and supported the legislators who opposed it.
Then with the pandemic lockdowns I witnessed the “rules for thee but not for me” attitude of leaders in government and institutions, and it became clear that if I didn’t get involved and stand up for my constitutional rights, which included being able to work as I see fit, then no one would.
Kenna DiGiovanni, a mom from Northern California:
While I have never been shy about sharing my views, I’ve become noticeably more passionate and vocal ever since the statewide mandates and lockdowns began to directly affect our children. My kids missed two seasons of sports and almost a full year of in-person school. I am adamantly against my kids being forced to wear masks at school and have complained to our District Superintendent and Principal many times. I will not be vaccinating my 5 and 7-year-old and have held them back from school in protest against vaccine mandates for students twice so far this year. I can’t help but feel like this is never going to end until all moms and parents say that it stops.
Nicolle Young, a stay-at-home mother of six:
I never attended a school board meeting until March of 2020. When the COVID policies took hold of the schools, the curtain dropped, and I became acutely aware of how the system was operating. Seeing the dysfunction and how the CTA [California Teachers Association] was working so hard to keep schools closed drove me to find out what I could do. I stumbled upon Moms For Liberty and I started a chapter in Placer County. We started immediately attending board meetings and fighting the mask mandates. We have spoken out against CRT, and spoken in favor of getting back local control to schools, so they are no longer government schools, but true public schools. Being a mom of many, parental rights in all areas of education has become my passion. Had detrimental COVID policies not come about, I would still be just another mom. Now, I have a fire to fight for all children!
Central Valley mom Lori Sundgren:
I am a mom of a senior in high school, as well as a working professional with a master’s degree. I work in higher education. I got involved when my son’s school and sports were shut down spring of his sophomore year and showed no sign of opening back up for fall. I became an active member of Let Them Play at the local level. I was active on social media, wrote emails to the school board and to the board members. I attended board meetings virtually. I called the representative in the area where my son’s school is and encouraged him to vote “yes” on the Let Them Play Resolution, which he did. This was the first time I ever called a legislator. I helped rally the troops (other parents) by way of our local Let Them Play Facebook page that another mom created. We held a rally on a busy street corner that was well attended and well supported. With the help of Let Them Play at the state level, we sent out a press release. I believe two news stations came, as well as the newspaper. It brought a lot of attention to the issue of kids losing their childhoods.
What did I want to accomplish? I wanted my son to have his childhood back. Plain and simple.
And it’s not just moms who feel this way – future moms do too, like college student Marissa Forte.
I’m not a parent, but a STUDENT! A college student who had to suffer the endless online education from the time my high school campus shutdown to my full first year in community college. This was one of my biggest reasons to get involved. I saw the harm and rather ruthless ways our COVID response was, but as I dug deeper, the worse I read on how California operates even normally. I found people like Assemblyman Kevin Kiley and other folks leading the charge for better leadership for our state & country.
I at first attended some “Re-Open CA” rallies in May 2020, but then it spiraled into different political events, rubbing shoulders with elected officials… it’s been a journey and it hasn’t stopped. I want to be a leader myself, so I ran for and was elected to the student Senate.
Michelle Goebel, a San Diego mother:
I helped form a local reopen school group in June 2020, which grew to include many others across CA.
Board meeting after board meeting, I started to realize that no matter how much compelling data I shared with our local school board, county, or state reps, it truly didn’t matter, as our unions were calling the shots. I wasn’t tuned into local or state politics until the summer of 2020. It became apparent that the decisions that impacted our children the most were being driven by officials with one letter next to their name: D. It was really eye-opening that even the most harmful policies to our children could not get an official to vote or go against their party line. I think more parents will be paying attention to their local elections, especially school boards, and I hope to see more parents running in the future.
Heidi Hall, a mom in the Sacramento area:
I was a very apolitical mom prior to COVID. I couldn’t have told you who was on my school boards or who my Assemblyperson was. Growing up the daughter of a special Ed teacher I took for granted that kids in CA would always have access to a free and equal in-person education, but when Covid hit I was immediately alarmed by the way CA handled school. Widely-available data showed us that kids were not at high risk. Neighboring states did everything possible to keep schools open while our state did everything possible to close them down and keep them closed. The contrast was impossible to ignore, and I knew I needed to take action. Our state blatantly defied science in favor of politics and continues to do so.
I registered as a Republican in 2018 — after spending most of my life as a Democrat, NPP or Independent – realizing that my values are ones of choice, freedom, liberty and loving thy neighbor, regardless of how different they might be. Those are the exact same things I want for our CA students; I want choice, freedom, liberty and to teach love and acceptance for all. That is why I ran for school board and was elected in November 2020. I will continue advocating for CA students.
Sarah Burwick, an attorney living in Los Angeles:
My husband and I have two young kids, a son age 5 and a daughter age 2.5. I read the 11/21 Sacramento Bee piece regarding “right-wing extremist moms” and had to laugh because it was so off the mark. I identify as liberal and though I am actually a Canadian citizen, I supported Biden’s presidential campaign.
I recently wrote a piece on Substack explaining a bit about how I started questioning the official covid “narrative,” so to speak.
My primary issue is that children are the least at risk of poor covid outcomes, but are being restricted the most. Part of why I am becoming more active and vocal is because so many others cannot. The Left has politicized this issue so deeply that people are afraid to speak out and protest mask and vaccine mandates because they will risk their careers and reputations. These threats are real and I have empathy for parents who feel silenced. Given that I work for myself and do not face some of these risks, and am not afraid of losing friends, I feel I have a duty to speak up for those parents who cannot.
The groups that are protesting school closures, quarantines, and mandates could not be further from the right-wing extremist portrayal in the Bee. The parents I have met represent all races, ethnicities, religious affiliations, and socioeconomic status. The common ground we share is that we want the best for our children and we know that a myopic focus on a virus with a 99.99% survival rate, while ignoring children’s other medical, education and social needs, will ultimately harm children more than it helps them.
San Diego’s Cynthia Kaui:
I got extremely active with politics in January 2021 and got involved with San Diego Republican Party. I helped with the recall because I was frustrated with how CA was doing for a long time, but our COVID response was the worst and tipped me to the edge. School Choice/CRT are the causes I’m the most passionate and active with, and since March 2021 I’ve been a volunteer for Californians for School Choice.
Local schools – public, charter, and private, continue to double down on their insane vaccine mandates, even vaccine mandates for parent volunteers in some cases. They are about to learn that when you go after people’s children, you’ve really poked the wrong bear.