On Saturday, November 23, I participated in the Central Texas Region phone bank for Wendy Davis for Governor. El Paso had just had a phone bank with 300 volunteers. Those dedicated Democrats made over 3000 calls in that one day. We set our sights on beating their numbers, and brother, did we manage that task with ease; we made 8000 calls an hour and a half ahead of our goal.
Being new to the activist game, this was actually my first phone bank. I have made many calls for President Obama, Paul Sadler, and Rose Meza Harrison, who was running for Congress in my district against Tea Party Republican, Blake Farenthold. I even made calls a few weeks ago on behalf of Pro-Choice America for Terry McAuliffe for Governor of Virginia. I have become a good caller, and, now, I've gained some valuable experience to bring home to my county when we start organizing in January.
After all the time I spent at the capitol during the special sessions this summer, I never saw Senator Davis in person. On the day of her filibuster, I was at home watching the Senate hearing until mid-afternoon when I finally headed to Austin. By the time I got there, the line to get into the chamber was wrapped around the dome. Instead of waiting in line, with no guarantee of ever getting in, I headed downstairs to watch via closed circuit on the big screen in a basement auditorium. I left the capitol that night around 2 am. An hour later, Senator Davis, and other Senate Democrats, came outside the capitol to greet supporters. On the following Monday, a rally was held at the capitol at noon. Senator Davis spoke to the throngs of people, but I couldn't get close enough to lay eyes on her, or hear her for that matter. I watched her speech later at home.
When she heard about the phone bank during the preceding week, Senator Davis planned to stop by to greet us volunteers. I was finally going to have my chance to meet her! At the beginning of the phone bank, I positioned myself at the first table by the door which provided me the best seat in the house to see her arrive. Much to my disappointment, she came into the building, went through a maze of offices, and entered the room from another door more central to the entire group, and what felt like a world away from my vantage point. But there she was in all her glory. Even from across the room, about fifteen feet, I finally got to look into the eyes of the woman in whom my hopes and dreams for this state are pinned.
She was humbled by the sight of the roomful of people assembled on that bitter cold, rainy day in Austin, to work for her election. She spoke to us about her priorities as governor, education being a highlight. She's fought the Texas GOP for education since the day she arrived in Austin as the state senator from Fort Worth. In 2011, she used her filibuster power to try to stop the deep $5.4 billion dollar cut to education. Cuts that closed entire campuses, and left hundreds of thousand of teachers and other staff unemployed. Of course, she was unsuccessful in her fight, because, well, Texas. No Democrat lucky enough to even be elected in Texas, has any power at all in the legislature. To our keen misfortune, the Texas GOP is a super majority party in our state. That hasn't stopped Texas Dems from trying to kill their destructive policy, and Senator Davis has been a champion for public education.
Living in Texas, it's inevitable that I know many who bristle at the mere thought of Wendy Davis. The senator's enemies wasted no time in capitalizing on the only thing people likely knew about Wendy before the summer special sessions of the legislature. Now, everyday on social media, I have to endure the terms "Abortion Barbie" and "baby killer" to denounce this honorable woman. Perish the ridiculous thought. Her filibuster this biennium was against the Texas GOP's further cuts to women's healthcare. Perry had already refused the millions of federal funds Texas receives annually for Title X, funds used for rural programs addressing reproductive health education and birth control. Then, he cut out the Women's Health Program. And with SB5/HB1 this summer, he put Texas women further from access to health care by enacting restrictions and regulations on clinics performing abortions that the State Affairs Department, soon after, deemed unwarranted. Abortion. That already safe procedure will become even safer, and clinics are closing around Texas. Clinics in the barrios of the valley, in El Paso, and in rural east Texas. Clinics that also provide education, and birth control to the masses. The Texas GOP has done their level best to see to it that these clinics disappear from communities across the state.
Wendy Davis' election feels like life or death to me, just as it does to every person I've met while working toward our goal. I know that the people of Texas are as ready for change as I am. The time is now, and Senator Wendy Davis is our chance. I looked into her eyes on Saturday, and saw a future that is dedicated to every Texan from every walk of life. If you are ready to put behind the croney politics of the Perry years, you will want to take a look for yourself.