Richard Wolfe: Moms for Liberty

Doesn’t that sound inspirational?  How could anyone take issue with moms who support — as Merriam-Webster defines liberty — “the power, right, or opportunity to choose”?

And, really, who doesn’t love Mom?  And what closet Commie isn’t “for” liberty?

But, in truth, there’s some cynical marketing going on there. Check that branding construction. There’s a subtle inference suggesting that moms who are not affiliated with Moms for Liberty (M4L) are, somehow, “against” liberty.

Richard Wolfe

Richard Wolfe

Cynical marketing, with no small irony attached to it. Because M4L cares not one whit about anyone’s liberty other than their own. There’s zero altruism as a motivating factor to their mission. Their credo and tactics reflect a “my way or the highway” approach.

M4L self-identifies as part of the so-called modern parental rights movement. The group grew out of opposition to public health regulations for COVID-19, they oppose LGBTQ+ and racially inclusive school curriculum, and have advocated books bans.

But there are cracks in the M4L foundation.

In one priceless display of karma the newly inaugurated school board president in a Philadelphia suburb — where the Board had been flipped from Republican to Democratic — took her oath of office by placing her hand on a stack of books targeted by book bans.  Karen Smith said she wanted to demonstrate “the commitment I’ve had to fighting for the books, and for our students’ freedom to read.”

The broader perspective tells the full story. In 2022, M4L endorsed 500 candidates, with 55% winning their elections. In 2023, 43% of the 202 candidates they endorsed won their school board elections. Do the rough math and you’ll see that 275 M4L zealots secured school board seats in 2022. In 2023, that dropped to about 87 seats.

That trend line would not suggest a bright future for M4L candidates.

And the M4L member chapters aren’t happy places either.

Earlier this month, the local chapter in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, simply shut down, due to lack of interest. The chapter had 200 members when it was first formed in 2021, but just three showed up at a diner in Allentown to vote to dissolve the group, the internet news website The Daily Beast reported.

Janine Vicalvi, who originally founded the local chapter, told The Daily Beast that she reached her end point.  “Between homeschooling and working two jobs, it’s just a lot,” she said. “And I guess there wasn’t as much willingness to do the work that’s required to propel the movement forward.”

The Brevard County, Florida chapter was the national organization’s first chapter.  Recently, the Brevard County school board held a meeting, in part to discuss a challenge to the books The Kite Runner and Slaughterhouse-Five. Only one M4L member showed up.

All the other attendees spoke in favor of keeping the books on the shelves — and heavily criticized the parental rights organization. One attendee compared “the growth of the Taliban and its repressive autocracy in the name of religious nationalism” in The Kite Runner to “the rise of parental rights groups that want to limit what students learn.”

The Moms for Liberty member did not speak and eventually left the room. Both books remained on school shelves.

[Speaking of book bans, two long years of M4L-inspired activism repeatedly threatened the public funding of Patmos Library in Jamestown Charter Township. Mounting criticism, press coverage up to and including the national press, and, most importantly, ceaseless citizen opposition ensured the library continuous funding.]

The national M4L organization still holds a lot of influence among politicians, with many Republican primary candidates speaking at the group’s annual summit last year.  Republican presidential candidates Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Ron DeSantis and, oh yes, the disgraced and discarded and thus far four times indicted, not immune, sexually predatory former president (DADATFFTINISPFP) all made appearances.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has labeled M4L as an “extremist group.” The SPLC explains that an extremist group is “an anti-government group is an organization or collection of individuals that — based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities — believes the federal government is tyrannical.”

In 2022, the eight Ottawa Impact (OI) County Commissioners ran for office promising to “thwart tyranny” in county government. They’ve since employed statements and activities that fit the SPLC’s bill.

So, even if we don’t have an Ottawa County chapter of Moms for Liberty, we do have our own collection of extremists.

The difference is we can vote our extremists away.

— Community Columnist Richard Wolfe is a resident of Park Township. Contact him at

This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Richard Wolfe: Moms for Liberty

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