Kicker of asses.
After the election I promised myself I’d avoid writing about politics at least until 2014 – I know a lot of you don’t find this shit as interesting as I do, and I already beat the political horse pretty well to death in the latter half of 2012. But there’s really no way I can write something that isn’t at least a little political after what happened in Texas last night, because never in my life have I had so much admiration and respect for a woman who in all likelihood was wearing an adult diaper.
Quick recap: Texas governor Rick Perry is arguably one of the worst people on Earth, and recently he convened a special session of the Texas legislature so the GOP could railroad through a bunch of radical legislation too crazy to be passed during the regular session, when it would’ve been necessary to gain support from Democrats to pass anything.
One of the GOP’s big aims for the special session was to pass an abortion bill that would’ve closed all but five of Texas’s abortion clinics, which would deprive hundreds of thousands of women in rural Texas of the access to a safe abortion that they’re guaranteed under federal law.
Using a bunch of parliamentary jujitsu, the minority Democrats were able to delay the vote until the last few hours of the special session, at which point Texas state senator Wendy Davis attempted to filibuster for the remaining 13 hours in hopes of delaying the vote until after the special session ended at midnight.
When you filibuster in Texas, you have to stand the entire time without so much as leaning on your desk, you must speak continuously about a subject germane to the bill being debated on the floor, and you’re not allowed to leave the floor for any reason whatsoever, up to and including going to the bathroom. Basically, if one person wants to hold up the legislative process in Texas, they’re welcome to do it for as long as they can stand, talk, and not pee. (Or pee where they’re standing. Politics is gross.)
So for twelve hours Senator Davis – once a poor single mother who went on to attend Harvard Law School – stood and talked continuously about why the bill was a bad idea, while every Republican in the room carefully scrutinized her every word and action for a slipup or violation that would allow them to end her filibuster and pass their shitty law.
I immediately take back everything I said last week about the pressures of being a wedding officiant – Wendy Davis just did the public speaking equivalent of an Ironman Triathlon while being nitpicked by a room full of fat, ugly, old white men who at one point tried to end her filibuster because she put on a back brace.
With close to an hour remaining before the end of the session, the Republican senators ended Davis’s filibuster on a technicality, but Democrats continued to run the clock with more parliamentary delaying maneuvers. Then, when the Republicans tried to call for a vote in the last ten minutes, the hundreds of assembled spectators in the gallery and the thousands of supporters outside resorted to Autzen Stadium tactics and caused as much ruckus as they could to prevent the vote until the legislative session ended at midnight.
That video is one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in a long time. As you may remember from my ill-fated trip to a town hall meeting, I think that our country’s biggest problem is that the people making laws are out of touch with the people they’re representing.
So to see an angry mob of ordinary Texans show up and simply yell so loud that the Republicans were unable to screw them over is almost as satisfying as that Saturday Night Live alternate ending for It’s A Wonderful Life where everybody goes and beats the shit out of Mr. Potter. This bill was so noxious that the people of Texas actively opposed it when their elected representatives no longer could. I’ve always thought it was amusing that Texas’ most conservative fuckwads go to work in the state’s most liberal city – I never dreamed it could be this beneficial.
I don’t think that this is how our government should work. I don’t think that democracy should come down to endurance contests, quibbling over whether a back brace is the same as leaning on a desk, and angry mobs disrupting legislative proceedings. The amount of time a politician can stand up and talk doesn’t have any bearing on whether his or her ideas are worth listening to, and nobody voted for that mob.
But I also don’t think that there’s any room for restrictive voter ID laws and excessive redistricting in a democracy, and the Republicans have been making use of those tactics for close to a decade now. Trying to take the moral high ground hasn’t gotten us anywhere. If the GOP can kill a gun control bill that 92% of the country approves of, it’s only fair play for a bunch of angry liberals in Texas to make too much of a ruckus for the Republicans to do their job.
What’s more, at least the Democrats crowdsourced their dirty tricks in Austin last night. If capitalizing on public discontent is what it takes to flush radicals out of office, so be it. The sooner that public sentiment destroys the Republican Party, the sooner it can be used to destroy the Democratic Party and then hopefully party politics as a whole.
The Republicans are still in control in Texas, and Prick Perry has already called another special session to get his way. It’s also pretty likely that Wendy Davis will be redistricted out of a job come the next election – without the Voting Rights Act the Texas GOP will be quick to exact revenge.
Of course, this won’t be a problem if she just runs for governor instead.
Truman Capps can’t think of anything he’d want to do nonstop for twelve hours.