There is no denying that Texas is as “red” as they come. The politics practiced in the Lone Star state don’t just lean right, they fall over on top of their right side, dig a hole forty feet beneath them, and then lie down again on that same right side. Or at least that’s the idea you’d get if all you did was listen to their Republican Governor Rick Perry, or any of the plethora of Republican state congressional and senatorial representatives. After watching State Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster effort on Texas’ sweeping new anti-abortion law and seeing the public outcry of support for State Senator Davis, even from within her own state, you have to wonder how long Texas will stay bright red before it shifts into more purple territory.
If the public response to the abortion bill and Davis’ filibuster wasn’t sign enough that things could still yet change deep in the heart of Texas, what happened to her campaign coffers sure was. In the weeks since Ms. Davis stood on her state’s senate floor for eleven hours to try to kill the state’s most restrictive abortion bill since Roe v. Wade she has seen a million dollars in donations to her campaign fund. In terms of a national election, a million dollars might be a drop in a very large bucket, but on a state level, a million bucks is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
Maybe the new windfall of donations won’t signal the end of the Republicans’ draconian efforts to push women backward in Texas, but it’s a sign that people are hungry for real leadership. It would have been easy for Davis and the other Democrats to look at the numbers they faced and simply roll over — voting “no” on the bill but not doing much more in terms of an effort to derail this horrendous bill. Instead, Senator Davis and her Democratic colleagues helped not only keep the story alive in their own state, but it developed in a national story and in doing so, there’s no telling how many people will now be inspired to fight as well.
I’m not really sure if people are any more or less cynical these days as they were ten, twenty, or even two hundred years ago. I’m not one that buys into the whole “society is always in a downward spiral and it’s only a matter of time before we all burn in Hell” thing, so for me I tend to view Americans as always having a healthy dose of skepticism in nearly every aspect of life. You certainly couldn’t blame anyone for becoming more pessimistic when they turn on their TV or laptop and read about how very little our politicians listen to us, and how very little actual leadership we see these days.
Wendy Davis’ effort, and the financial reward her campaign’s account got should make everyone take heart; all is not lost. There are people out there who haven’t been corrupted by the pervasive influence of capitalism on our governments; at least not enough to stop trying. Maybe that’s a sad commentary on us that just seeing one of our politicians try is enough to get us fired up and hurling cash at her to encourage her to keep going. The less cynical view, and in my mind the more accurate one, is that politicians like Davis are just extremely rare these days, and we need to do everything we can to encourage more to come out of the woodwork.
One good month of campaign fundraising won’t fix everything that Perry and the Republicans have done to women’s health issues in Texas, but it’s a sign that the cavalry may be on the way after all. Clearly it’s going to take many more months of this kind of fundraising effort, combined with some kind of electoral miracle for Democrats to gain enough headway in the next couple of election cycles, but these things never happen overnight. Regardless, Texas has clearly taken its first step towards embracing strong, powerful, Democratic female voices again. Something tells me former-governor Ann Richards would very much like to see that happen again.