I have to admit that I had never heard of Wendy Davis until her eleventh-hour filibuster the night June 25th 2013. I had just finished teaching a computer class, when two of the attendees, rushed up to me and asked if I was going down to the protest at the Capital. They were going to join with a group gathering to stop the Texas legislature from limiting women’s abortion rights. I’ve served on several volunteer groups with these women. I know them to be intelligent, thoughtful, caring, individuals, whom I respect professionally, and like personally.
I asked if they were they familiar with the exact wording of the bill they were protesting; and if they were aware this Texas Bill was drafted as a direct response to the information contained in the Grand Jury Report that outlined the case against Dr. Kermit B. Gosnell, who was convicted of manslaughter for the deaths of women at his “Women’s Medical Society” clinic in Philadelphia?
Interestingly, neither had read the specific wording of the Texas Senate Bill 5 they were hotfooting downtown to protest. They were responding to an ”all hands on deck” email that implied that any restriction of abortion was a clear and immediate threat to the freedom of all women. I told them that I would take a pass on their night’s adventure, wished them well, and asked them at some point, win, lose or draw, to read the actual bill. I packed up my gear and headed home.
Little did I know, that for good or ill, Representative Wendy Davis was about to be impinged on my consciousness — MoveOn.org would litter my inbox, and in the end, the Democratic machine would succeed in fixing my attention on Ms. Davis. As any of my granddaughters will willingly tell you, capturing Grandy’s attention is not always a good thing.
MoveOn.org, Wendy and Me…
Even though I was born and raised in Canada, I apparently grew up as a Democrat. JFK may have been the American President, but he was a Catholic President, and much loved in Canada. My Grandmother had a small bust of JFK on a shelf in our kitchen. After his death, our family said a daily rosary for the repose his soul. When I first came to the States in the late 60’s I was an active Democratic volunteer in Chicago, and later in Denver. Sometime during Clinton’s second administration, I became an Independent, which truly upset a friend, and fellow political wonk. She is what folks from the Texas panhandle refer to as a ‘Yellow Dog’ Democrat — “…if the party put up a yella-dawg, that girl would vote for him!” She was disappointed when I abandoned my Democratic roots so, using my email address, she signed me up with Moveon.org. Thus, bless her heart, once, sometimes three times a day, I get emails from one of the most effective political opinion shaping organization in America.
It seemed that the Dems were building one heck of a big buzz around one, second-term, Texas State Senator. Wendy’s eleventh hour, pink-shoed, stand against any level of abortion restrictions made her a national Democratic heroine. In mere hours, Wendy seemed to ignite the interest of the national media. On October 3rd, 2013, fourteen weeks and two days after Wendy’s filibuster, and a prodigious number of MoveOn.org fund-raising emails, Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis declared her candidacy for governor of Texas, promising to focus on the needs of average Texans.
As I’m one of those average Texans she aims to lead, I decided that I needed to know more about Wendy. What motivated her to run for Governor, what experience would she bring to the office, and what else did she stand for — surely there was more to Wendy Davis then an attractive, well spoken woman, who opposes legislation that would regulate health and safety in Texas abortion clinics.
After months of research, sifting through the endless hyperbole of hundreds of campaign emails, nuanced website copy, and some carefully, and some not so carefully parsed media stories, I found out less about Wendy, and more about the powerful, political machine behind her. If my conclusions are correct, then the rational of the political groups driving the nation narrative about women’s rights would unsettle, if not shock most women.