It may not have seemed possible, but in some strange way I respect Wendy Davis even more right now that I did the night she stood up and stood down a draconian anti-abortion bill two weeks ago on the floor of the Texas senate. Davis’s 13-hour filibuster was instantly the stuff of political and cultural legend, but in some ways it takes even more guts to admit to ugly reality than it does to rally the hopeful to action. Or maybe it’s like this: It takes guts to both rally the hopeful and admit that despite that you’re still going to lose the battle at hand.
In the rush of adrenaline we all felt during and in the immediate wake of Davis and her applauding, shouting supporters’ epic showdown with the paleoconservative Christian men of the Texas Republican party, it was almost impossible to acknowledge the nagging feeling that was likely in the back of everyone’s mind — namely that the victory Davis had won was only temporary. Yes, she’d successfully fought off those who would seek to oppress the women of Texas and make up their minds for them when it comes to their reproductive rights, but there was no way that Rick Perry and his GOP minions would let it end there. And they didn’t. It took less than 24-hours for Perry to call for an entirely new special session aimed at ramming through the same bill Davis had just stopped cold. It was all going to start all over again.
And make no mistake: If Davis filibustered again and won again, Texas Republicans would simply try again — and again and again. Wendy Davis would never be able to take off those pink running shoes. The women who supported her would have to spend the rest of their lives busing or driving themselves back to the Texas Senate, again and again and again. The Republicans would just keep bringing their horrible goddamn abortion bill up until their enemies couldn’t fight back anymore. Then it would pass. Everyone knew this was how it was going to be, but nobody wanted to believe that Wendy Davis’s fight on the night of June 25th, 2013 was in vain.
Except that Wendy Davis herself knew that eventually she was going to lose but that her fight still wasn’t in vain. Last night, during a local TV interview after a speech to 1,500 friends and supporters, Davis conceded that the Texas anti-abortion bill that she’d stood valiantly against was almost certainly going to pass tomorrow. The new-but-old “SB1” already flew through the Texas House and will make its way to the Texas Senate for a Friday vote. Davis was asked whether she and her fellow senators would be willing to break quorum to stop the bill’s passage; she answered very wisely that there’s been enough rule-breaking already by the Republicans — who attempted to literally cheat on national television by pushing the original bill through past the midnight deadline on June 26th — and that any kind of theatrics would only serve as a Band-Aid for a sucking chest wound. “I have no doubt the governor is hell-bent to pass this bill,” she told a reporter. And she’s right.
See, here’s the thing about Republicans: They never give up. They never forget. It’s engrained in their DNA to the point where it’s the proverbial distinguishing characteristic of their party mascot, the elephant. Consider the number of losses the conservative movement has suffered over the past century that it’s refusing to let go of and is continuing to fight and refight no matter how many times it gets smacked down. It’s staggering to think that in the year 2013, despite the obvious will of a majority of America, the GOP is still trying to tear down or whittle away at Roe V. Wade, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, women’s rights, gay rights, Social Security, and on and on and on. These are issues that were decided decades ago, but as far as conservatives are concerned, kind of like what Wendy Davis did to them in the Texas Senate two weeks ago, their defeats were merely setbacks in a war they’ll ultimately win. They’ll win by simply wearing down their opponents and refusing to just accept that the American people want it another way besides theirs. That kind of acceptance of the will of the electorate is anathema to GOP thinking because conservatives truly believe that any idea or vision for the country not theirs — any legislative victory for their opponents — is illegitimate and not what the American people really want.
Wendy Davis understands this. But she also understands that what she did by facing this kind of relentless demagoguery down in public was draw the attention of millions to it. To play David to its Goliath. To wake up those who hadn’t noticed what was going on around them and to give the forces who’ve felt overwhelmed and beleaguered by the seemingly never-ending conservative onslaught something they desperately needed: hope.
Wendy Davis knows that the fight won’t end tomorrow on the floor of the Texas Senate, no matter the fate of SB1. She knows the kind of mentality and tenacity those who stand with her are up against. It’s a fight that will go on and on. One that will require unwavering vigilance and a willingness to accept small advances as well as sweeping victories. The other side will never give in — and neither should we.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.