news feature
June 11, 2004


Mainstreet moms try to outpace NASCAR dads
by Robert Rabbin

While George W. Bush primps and poses with NASCAR dads, courting their support, another group is set to blow Bush and his dads off the track and deliver the checkered flag to John Kerry: the Mainstreet Moms.

"Mainstreet Moms Oppose Bush," founded by Megan Matson, a Bolinas, CA resident and mother of three, is the newest get-out-the-vote organization to spring from the grassroots. Inspired by Howard Dean's campaign, Megan -- along with some high-profile advisors like Reed Hundt, FCC chairman under President Clinton, and author Annie Lamott -- decided she had the power to reach out to the millions of women who did not vote in the 2000 presidential election.

Matson says, "I started The MMOB for three reasons: They're 1, 3 and 5 years old. George W. Bush doesn't care about them, but I do. All mothers have a tangible connection to the future because we know that's where our kids will live. And the policies of George W. Bush are a clear-cut threat to that future. My vote, and the vote of millions of others moms, protects the future we want for our children, and for our children's children."

Upset about issues from toxic mercury in tuna fish to the record federal deficit -- a debt her pre-school children will inherit -- Matson felt other parents would be motivated to vote when presented with reasons why Bush's policies are bad for kids. Her goal is to help "the mom vote" be heard in the 2004 presidential election.

Working in her kitchen, emailing from a Mac laptop, Matson reached out to her Marin neighbors and a widening national network of concerned citizens. Having discovered that if unmarried women (single, divorced, widowed, separated) had voted in the same percentages as did married women in 2000, they would have added 6 million predominantly progressive votes to a very tight election, MMOB's goal became clear: help unregistered single moms in the swing states get registered and get voting.

While acknowledging that the country seems particularly divided this election year, Matson feels parenthood provides a common ground.

"We're mothers first, conservatives or liberals second. We all want our kids to breath clean air and eat safe food, to be able to learn and explore and hope," she says. "Threaten that, and you get the mother bear thing going. So we're going to beat Bush together, and we're going to have a good time doing it."

Armed with mailing lists of unregistered mothers in battleground states, Matson and her growing team created Adopt-A-Swing-State letter-writing parties. (Editor’s note: MMOB spokesperson Candace Kuss stated that there were members in Missouri but that participation varies because the group is run by volunteers.) Hosts from all over America were recruited to invite friends over for potlucks or coffee cake. Online party kits created by MMOB offer downloadable tips, flyers and straightforward facts on the Bush administration policies that most adversely affect children. Ongoing events throughout the election season will send personal notes to working moms in key states including Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. They will be reminded how much their vote matters, supplied with voter registration forms and given absentee ballot information.

"The first years under Bush were a dark time," Matson said in a recent phone interview. "His tax cuts were just shoveling money to the rich, his support of corporate interests over the environment, the erosion of quality education...the policies are cynical, and the results are cruel. What pushed me over the edge though was the lying, his abuse and debasement of the language of truth."

Though Megan has little prior experience, she acts and sounds like an experienced grass-roots organizer: "Do something. No one thinks they have time, but you'll see. Even the tiniest of actions will have an effect: write a letter to the editor, call your senator or representative, get hooked up with organizations like ours and, and talk to your friends. Once you get a taste, you'll be hooked. Don't think it through too much, don't doubt yourself. Be foolish and creative if need be. Ever little thing makes a difference."

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Robert Rabbin is a writer, speaker, author and the creator of For more information, visit


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