SB5, Texas Home, and the Beauty of Naiveté
It has been a ridiculously emotional week for me (and for a lot of you, I’m sure). Voting Rights Act anger, DOMA and Prop 8 celebration, and at the moment most important to me, SB5 filibuster.
I am from Texas. I am a Texan. It is one of the most salient parts of who I am. I love my state (as most Texans do) and I knew moving away to Chicago would not be easy. But I did it because I knew if I didn’t do it now, I wouldn’t do it ever.
Watching the most beautiful political action happen this week on our senate floor made me so joyful and so painfully heartbroken at the same time. Senator Wendy Davis filibustering for 11 hours and democratic allies swirling around her after a third point of order was brought against her to end the filibuster is the version of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington I always wanted to see. And it happened in my state and it was my rights being challenged.
The fact that I could not be there because of a post-college move killed me inside. I stayed up until 4am watching, crying, shivering at the beauty of the filibuster and the citizen action around it, wishing more than ever in my life that I could be a part of it. But it was the most beautiful thing. I was so hopeful I was giddy. I ran into work the next day talking up a storm about it like everyone else talks about the superbowl.
I planned and organized a Slutwalk in San Antonio, this was my scene and I couldn’t be there. And I know Texas will not change fast. My state has a lot of work to be done before it changes from red to a beautiful purple and then victorious blue. But in the face of negativity after the filibuster I so hoped that republicans would see us. Would see the women and men who showed up in Austin to fight this and not call for another special session. Of course, Rick Perry called for another freaking session but I’m already catching wind via Facebook of the organizing going on to fight it just as hard as the first.
And say we don’t win, say the republicans pass it anyway somehow… It is still the most hopeful, happy, and elated I’ve felt in a long time. Watching everyone come together, watching them take action. I urge you to read this Amy Gentry’s piece over at The Oeditrix about maintaining hope in the face of adversity (read: republicans). It might seem impossible, but feeling that power of citizens acting is the most hopeful and wonderful thing to experience. It is easy to not let yourself be giddy and to let yourself be consumed with the reality of the negative, but watching this, and pushing against that reality, that is what matters. So let’s all be stupidly giddy and hopeful. It feels too nice to not let it happen.
Despite the amazing cynicism I saw down on the floor last night, I am still naive enough to believe that my visible and vocal support of women’s rights will make a difference. And so are the hundreds of other orange-shirted Texans—more than a thousand all told, both women and the men who support us because they understand that we are all people, goddammit it. We are incredibly naive. We are naive enough to believe that our presence mattered, that it filled the House Dems with spirit and pride and motivation to do the most thankless work imaginable on the House floor: taking an issue seriously that Republicans in our state honestly could give a flying fuck about, so long as they get reelected.
We who are the under-dogs can afford to be naive, because we’ve got nothing but our bodies to lose.