In the Summer of 2007, I attended my first BlogHer convention. I had been blogging for about a year and had just begun flirting with writing about politics. I had very firm opinions about everything from women's rights to foreign policy, but I wasn't a political blogger. Oh no. Why would anyone listen to what I had to say about politics?
But at BlogHer 2007, sitting in an audience of women (and a few men), I listened to Elizabeth Edwards talk about politics, her battle with breast cancer, and the power of women online, and all of that started to change.
I had supported John Edwards from my cozy armchair during his presidential run in 2004. I supported him again during the Democratic primary in 2008. And shortly after BlogHer in 2007, I heard that a group of women I greatly admire were starting a political blog for mothers supporting John Edwards for president. I asked pleaded begged to be a part of it. And all of a sudden, I was a MOMocrat.
I don't want to revise history. Despite the fact that John Edwards turned out to be a complete asshat and a poor excuse for a human being, leading up to the 2008 primary he was the only one talking about the issues that mattered most to me. He was the first Democratic candidate to come up with a comprehensive health care reform plan and his talk of "Two Americas" brought the plight of poverty in the US to light. Poverty isn't something that politicians like to talk about. Not a lot of poor people are out there making political donations and their advocates don't have a lot of money either. But John and Elizabeth Edwards were acting as the voice for the people in this country who need it most. I admired that. I still do.
Elizabeth Edwards inspired me to write about my convictions. She inspired me to become a MOMocrat, to let my voice as a mother, a woman and a citizen be heard. I like to remember the time I had a chance to participate in a conference call with Ms. Edwards. (Some of my lucky fellow MOMocrats in California got to meet with her in person.) Here's an excerpt from my blog post after the call:
I was on the conference call on my cell phone parked at my laptop in the dining room. My husband has been transferring the contents of said laptop to an external hard drive for the last 3 days, so I was grounded, so to speak, unless I disconnected the hard drive and undid all of T's hard work. I couldn't lock myself in the bedroom away from the chaos created by two small boys.
During the introductions, I accidentally un-muted my cell phone. Of course, H&H began screaming and running around on cue. I didn't realize that anyone could hear them until Elizabeth said "Whoever has the kids in the background, don't shut them up! I might have to bring my own in here too." Everyone laughed while I was staring at my cell phone in horror and frantically pushing the mute button!
Of course, I got over my embarrassment immediately. This was a conference call with mothers. Elizabeth is a mother too. She and my fellow mom bloggers certainly weren't going to judge me for showing a bit of humanity.
Elizabeth Edwards helped me to realize that as a mother I have a special point of view, an important one, and that I have an obligation to make my country what I want it to be. On that call, she said, "We don't get the change we want unless we're willing to work for it." Elizabeth talked about not just making this a better America, but about creating a better world.
Today, Elizabeth Edwards died. And all of us, but particularly those of us here at MOMocrats, have lost a source of hope and inspiration.
She changed me. I know she changed all of us. My hope is that Elizabeth, and her children, realized just how much of an impact she had on so many people. She really did work to create a better world and all of us owe it to her to keep on fighting for our beliefs.
Stephanie Himel-Nelson also blogs as Lawyer Mama and now works to change the world in her own way as a Communications Director for a nonprofit.