Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wendy Davis and William Barber

I light a candle for my native state, Texas, where hope for sanity after a few eons of Rick "Oops" Perry and the dominance of a Republican legislature looks actually possible. You don't piss off Texas women without getting a two-by-four upside the head. From the Texas Monthly:
...on the morning of June 25, the petite fifty-year-old Democratic state senator [Wendy Davis] from Fort Worth fixed herself a single boiled egg for breakfast. It would be her only meal of the day. She slipped on a pair of pink tennis shoes, headed over to the Capitol, and stepped up. As Davis began what would become her internationally memorialized eleven-hour filibuster of a Republican bill that would severely restrict a Texas woman’s ability to obtain an abortion, she calmed her jittery nerves by thinking of the assurances made to her the previous afternoon by former Democratic state senator Gonzalo Barrientos, himself an old hand at filibusters: It’ll be fine. You can lean on your desk, keep some candies in your pocket, read anything remotely related to the topic—no one will call you on any of that.
Once it became clear that the opposite was true—that in fact the Republicans intended to challenge every syllable and muscle twitch—she started getting mad. As the day wore on, her lower back began to hurt. “It was probably because of stress,” she told me two days later. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, what if I collapse during hour six?’ ” Her fellow Democrat Rodney Ellis helped her put on a back brace, but this led to the second point of order of the afternoon against her (after three points of order are sustained, a filibuster can be stopped). From then on, Davis knew she had to be error-free. She began to draw both strength and focus from the legion of supporters who had packed the Senate gallery. She was unaware that outside the chamber, the halls of the Capitol were filled with even more people rooting her on or that, by the end of the evening, more than 180,000 people around the world were watching a livestream of the proceedings, with many more following along on social media. Davis learned all this only later, after midnight, upon the defeat of the bill, when the evening’s takeaway seemed best expressed in a tweet by another emerging Texas Democrat, San Antonio mayor Juli├ín Castro: “When Texas turns Blue, tonight may well be looked upon as the beginning.”
No one knows for sure, of course, but we can imagine that the first Moral Monday back on April 27th, and those first 17 arrests for civil disobedience, was the beginning in North Carolina of throwing off the oppression of Teapublican rule, the skewed values and mean-spirited attacks on the poor and the unemployed, the micro-managing punishment of our cities, the triumphalism of fundamentalist religion hell-bent on destroying the social contract.

We can certainly thank the Rev. William Barber for his leadership in rallying the opposition. Without him, nothing would have happened. He's our Wendy Davis.

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