Sara Berliner never thought taking a marker to cardboard would plunge her into social and political activism. But she was pissed and wanted her voice heard. So when Berliner and her family set out to attend last winter’s March For Our Lives, she made a simple sign that spoke volumes. Four words: “Vote Like a Mother.”
What happened next marked the beginning of a new way for Sara to use her platform as mama to make a difference through her badass organization, Vote Like a Mother. She used the catchphrase to create T-shirts that she hopes will change the way we vote AND drive money to causes that would make mamas proud. We sat down with Sara to talk progress, rocking the vote and the one perspective that all mamas share.
OK so how did Vote Like a Mother get started?
I was making signs with my family on the night before the march that said, “Vote Like a Mother.” I thought it was great slogan but figured thousands of people had thought of it before. I got to the march and realized that wasn’t the case. I was on the subway and people were craning their heads to take pictures of the sign. I got out and people were running out of cafes to see it. I’ve never had a reaction like that to a sign I’ve made. I realized then I had a good idea and I’m in the position to do something with it.
Why do you think the sign created such a strong reaction?
I think it resonated with people in a way that’s cross generational. A wide range of people understood it. It’s irrelevant whether we ourselves are actually mothers. It means something different to everyone but it’s something everyone can connect to. So I thought, I want this on a shirt and I bet all these people to do too.
Have you always been politically engaged?
I’ve been some kind of activist since I was a teenager. When I was 14 and starting high school, I joined an extra-curricular group called the Ecology Club and I learned about climate change. I thought, this is awful, why aren’t we doing anything about this? Luckily was raised in a family where, “That’s just the way things are” was not an acceptable ethos. So I started doing some organizing in my school with environmental awareness and from there, that led to involvement in other causes but always at a personal and community level.
What does it mean to “Vote Like a Mother?”
It means whatever it means to you. I can tell you what it means to me. It means to literally vote in the voting booth but also to vote with your wallet and your voice. It’s about choosing where to spend your money, whether that’s supporting businesses that are like-minded and have your interests at heart. The “Like a Mother” part means thinking about the world that you want and mobilizing to create it, to create the world you’d want for your kids or your friends’ children or your nieces or nephews, to create that for all children. What’s so important is empathy. To me that’s the core of what a mother’s perspective brings to the voting booth.
Do you believe this idea of “voting like a mother” could affect voter turnout?
My hopes are that people think of VLAM as something where you have to do a lot of work. What is motherhood if not work? You have to do the work to get to the polls and that means volunteering for campaigns. It means working on voter registration, and it means working on turnout. So that’s phone banking, text banking, signing up to drive people to polls. That’s making sure that people show up. And moms are really good at making people show up to stuff and making people do stuff.
What’s next for Vote Like a Mother?
I’m starting to work with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an effort to drive support and fundraising to them. And I’m considering starting a PAC (political action committee) because the phrase has resonated so strongly with people but has so many different kinds of activities it could undertake. I think a PAC that directly connects parenthood with politics doesn’t exist. We need one that directly connects parenting to voting and to cultural change, and using parenthood as lens for politics can be quite powerful. The gear was first thing I did. And that’s going to be an ongoing effort because it spreads the message. But it’s just one way to get the message out. And I just want to get the message out as much as possible.