Wendy Davis Filibuster: 13-Hour SB 5 Speech Accomplished Everything It Needed to


Wendy Davis' filibuster may have resulted in Rick Perry calling a second special session to rehash the issue of abortion limitations, but she certainly accomplished more than name recognition and a boost in sales for Mizuno running shoes. This filibuster gave a face and name to the thousands of Democrats and the thousands of women in Texas who are constantly stepped on in the political process. Regardless of how SB5 turns out, her political career is far from over.

Yesterday, fellow PolicyMic pundit Brian Jencunas alleged that her "failed" filibuster "doomed her career" — that statement could not be further from the truth. The writer is right on one thing: SB5 will probably pass. A federal court will no doubt take it down, but yes, the Senate will be able to put it temporarily into effect.

But does Jencunas think Wendy Davis is stupid? I would wave her Harvard Law degree around in his face if he thinks she is naïve enough to believe that her actions would make the bill — or Republican zeal to pass it — go away forever. What she did was exactly what she needed to do: Call immediate and intense attention to a problem that has existed in Texas for decades, the complete lack of concern for women and the arcane policies the state is trying to force down its citizens' throats. 

She also gave a voice to the strong blue wave that is rocking the state right now. Questions of "is Texas turning blue?" have been hitting the airwaves and the blogosphere for months — and now it has a face. While I don't think Texas is going blue any time soon, it needs strong leadership to get it there. And now we have that.

Her actions have galvanized a Democratic base in the Lone Star State that has been beaten down with gerrymandering and bullying on the state level, and now they have an intensely intelligent woman with something to prove standing up in front of the Texas Senate with hundreds of people rallying around her. I would call that far from a failure. 

If Jencunas believes that any failed political attempt means a doomed career, I would wonder what he'd say about the many politicians that failed so many times to get things like women's rights or civil rights through before finally succeeding years later. Very few major political goals are achieved on the first try. Constant and repeated failure is the only way to progress, and history proves that.

I would instead counter that the only politician this filibuster means failure for is Rick Perry, whose approval rating with women stands at a dismal — and quickly dropping — 35%. Even pre-filibuster and with absolutely no name recognition, Davis only polled 6 points behind Perry in a theoretical governor match up. His highly personal and inappropriate words for Davis will only boost her by comparison. 

What's most important in this fight is this: Many bills that seriously restrict the rights of Texans have passed under Perry's watch, and none have garnered this much attention. The attention alone has achieved its goal: to make people care.

Texas has the lowest voter turnout rate in the nation. If she can get as many people in this state to turn out to an election as she got to care about this vote, I think her political career is far from over — it's a force to be reckoned with.