A post-mortem on sanity (and my once-liberal home)

Who is this proud Minnesota political nerd? Why, your Radical Housewife, of course!


I’m only moments away from delivering a short speech at the Rally to Restore Sanity Minnesota on October 30, 2010. I’m so excited I’m wearing my new shirt from my favorite local store I Like You. The message inside the Minnesota outline? I CAME TO GET DOWN, natch. No one parties like a native blue stater.

At about one o’clock that afternoon I stood at the podium and gave the following remarks:

I speak to you today on behalf of the statewide membership of Minnesota NOW, an activist group that is strictly non-partisan, though as the Pioneer Press kindly noted in a story yesterday, we do have an agenda.Since NOW has been in the game nationally since 1966, this shouldn’t surprise anyone, but no less a political luminary than Sarah Palin lashed out at women’s rights activists a couple months ago, labeling us with the very peculiar term Cackle of Rads.

(This is where I paused for laughter that never came.)

Cackle of Rads was Palin’s strange Alaskan slang for women who, in her words, “hijacked” feminism from…I don’t know, a roving band of grizzly bears or something.


I know this rally isn’t supposed to be partisan, and I agree with that noble aim. However, the truth is not partisan, and the truth is that Sarah Palin, no matter often she repeats it, is not, in fact, the designated mouthpiece for American women. Palin is also laying claim to speak for the protective mothers in American by coming up with another gimmick just as weird to me as the Cackle of Rads: the Mama Grizzlies.According to Palin, the Mama Grizzly is an uber-mom who will “rise up” to protect her children the only way she knows how… by voting for a woman like Sharron Angle who thinks pregnant sexual assault victims need to shut up and use their rape lemons to make fetus lemonade. That’s totally insane.

(I thought “fetus lemonade” was really fuckin’ funny, but the crowd sure didn’t.)

We all know that Sarah Palin is a mother—it’s a big part of her sales pitch.I’m a mother too.My son is ten and my daughter is five.When I see the level of insanity that has infected our public discourse, the last symbol I as a mother want to identify with is a creature known for homicidal paranoia. I don’t want to run back into my cave and hide, either! I want to do something to make the world a sane place for my children, your children, and the Palin children. In short, I’m not a mama grizzly–instead, I’m a mama cow.


I’m going to tell you a story that was shared with me by one of my feminist role models, a woman named Barbra Peterson who just happens to be a bovine midwife by trade. Barbra lives on a farm not far from Duluth with a herd of dairy cattle named after her own feminist heroes: Susan B. Anthony, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Mooo-seley Braun…

(This is where I finally realized that I was absolutely, positively, bombing and I needed to signal to my audience that I was aware of this fact.)


Anyway, up north near the farm it’s not unusual to be visited by coyotes or even wolves, all of whom would be delighted to chew on a slab of fresh beef. Barbra tells me that when the herd senses danger, the healthy mothers will gather the children and elders, that is, the most vulnerable in their community to attack, into the center of a circle that they form with their bodies. Barbra says that this circle of care is instinctive to the mama cows, and it’s something very remarkable and inspiring to watch, especially for those who consider the cow a stupid creature good for dinner, shoes, and not much else.

Today, on a day when we celebrate sanity, I ask all of you to reconsider the language of grizzly bears, cackling rads (whatever the hell those are), teabaggers, head stompers, disgusting lemonade makers, and really just slow yourself down…be like a cow.

Be calm.Eat, sleep, and take care of each other. Thank you.

(Polite clapping)

At least I fared better than the next speaker, a woman from Students for a Democratic Society who had her mic unplugged and was yanked offstage. Apparently calling the USA a supporter of terrorism (in Palestine and elsewhere) wasn’t a very sane thing to do.

In hindsight, this should have alerted me to the fact that the political climate in my state was worse than I imagined. On Tuesday, to the surprise of the Rad One and the rest of the Minnesota punditry, the Republican party scored a majority of seats our state legislature–the first such win for the Minnesota GOP in 38 years. I’m 39. I don’t remember a time when my state wasn’t majority LIBERAL. Mark Dayton could still pull out a squeaker in the governor’s race, but that fact gives me no comfort. A squeaker?! In Minnesota? Really?? Did I hallucinate those votes for Paul Wellstone? WHERE IS MY SANE MINNESOTA?

I came to get down, unaware of how down things really were. 2011 can only get worse.

2 thoughts on “A post-mortem on sanity (and my once-liberal home)

  1. kario

    Ouch. I'm so pleased to live in Washington state where the liberals are still liberal. Keep plugging away – there are a lot of us out there who appreciate the message.

  2. Ashley

    Ohh, I'm so sorry you received that reaction from your audience, especially because this speech was excellent. Thank you so much for sharing.


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