Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The People's Filibuster

As I type this on my phone, it's 3:30am and we are somewhere between Austin and Denton, TX, returning from the filibuster of the anti-abortion SB5 spearheaded by Senator Wendy Davis. This is not going to be my most eloquent (or best spellchecked) blog, but it may be my most urgent. This was simply one of the most incredible days of my political life, and I've had some pretty amazing ones. There are three points of particular significance that I want to highlight from today's filibuster.

  1. Senator Wendy Davis read countless stories into the official record - and on live stream -  from women who were not allowed to testify in the House, or who sent their stories in specifically for the filibuster. This is an unprecedented airing of women's experiences with abortion, and I cannot emphasize enough how crucial it is that these stories are shared widely. 
  2. The night, and the session, already extraordinary, culminated in what I can only describe as the people's filibuster. With just over 10 minutes left in the special session, and with efforts to derail Sen. Davis' filibuster in full desperate swing, the packed gallery erupted in applause and then a standing O when Senator van de Putte exasperatedly asked if a female legislator needed to raise her hand to be heard over her male colleagues. Then collectively, the people realized their power and simply DID NOT STOP CLAPPING. It's as if we realized together, all at once, that we could disrupt business as usual, and that we could keep it up until the clock ran out. AND WE DID. This is the kind of collective and mass action that has been missing from American politics. It's crucial that we realize that WE did this. Yes, Wendy Davis is amazing and inspiring. But so are we. 
  3. This brings me to my final point. The TX senate tried to cheat their way into passing the bill illegally after the session had officially ended. But the thousands of people in the Capitol, and the hundreds of thousands following via the Internet made it impossible for them to get away with it. They clearly were pushed to the point of having to decide how scared they were of the people. Despite the deafening crowds, they thought they could still pull it off. They were wrong and within a few hours they had to concede that their illegal passage was indeed defeat. Again, WE did that. And we have to continue to do that. Sen. Davis was indeed phenomenal today. But we need to understand that we have the power; we can't hand it over to legislators, no matter how cool. Don't relax with this victory. It's not over. Far from it. Let this buoy you into more action. . 
View from the gallery as the people carried the filibuster.

Update: Governor Rick Perry has, as predicted, called another special session to try and ram this legislation through. Perry called what we did "the breakdown of decorum and decency." Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst called us an "angry mob."  I call it people power disrupting business as usual. Their power has been shaken and they are scared. Can't stop, won't stop!


Cthulhu, Destroyer of Worlds said...

You, and the others who were with you in the capitol, are amazing. Thank you.

Chris Hartman said...
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Chris Hartman said...

SO important what you say here. Wendy Davis is money, but it was the Gallery Gals who made it all happen.


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