Political beliefs aside you have to admire Wendy Davis. The Democratic Texas Senator stood and spoke for 12 hours last Tuesday to prevent a restrictive abortion bill from passing. Under Texas rules, filibustering means no breaks, no food or drink, no speaking off-topic or leaning against anything. She did it though, and spoke against the bill past midnight, ensuring SB5 would not become law in Texas, at least not for now.
Even as hours passed and the senate floor emptied, she wasn’t alone. Outside Senate Chambers hundreds of women showed their support for Davis’ stance. It was impressive. But outside the capitol, outside Austin, outside Texas and possibly even the United States hundreds of thousands more stood with her through the use of technology. How great is that?
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Close to 200,000 people tuned in to watch the drama unfold through a live stream on YouTube. The hashtag #standwithwendy quickly began trending Tuesday night, filling up timelines and making this Ft. Worth area Senator an instant celebrity. Even President Obama used social media tools to praise her efforts. Of course those who oppose her also had their say. Lt. Governor David Dewhurst who presides over the Senate also had a message for conservatives, (“I pledge to Texas one thing: this fight is far from over.
#txlege #sb5) hashtagging and all. The filibuster generated so much buzz Davis’ twitter account went from 1,200 followers to 20,000 by the time the filibuster was over.
“I stood with Wendy from the comfort of my own home on Tuesday night. I tweeted, checked out what people were saying on Facebook and added my two cents,” said Serena Hicks, a small business owner in Austin.
There is no denying the use of technology helped propel SB5 to a national platform. Following the filibuster it was also technology that almost kept SB5 out the special session.
Less than 48 hours after Davis left the Senate floor Facebook statuses called for more action. This time anyone standing (pardon the pun) with Davis was asked to pick up the phone, call Governor Rick Perry’s office and ask to be added to the number of calls opposing the special session. As it turns out you don’t even have to show up to engage in the civic process thanks to the telephone.
“Governor Perry called the second session anyway but I feel better knowing I’m on record opposing it, and that a handful of my friends were able to call in as well,” said Hicks.
It’s interesting to see the stark contrast between old-fashioned politics like the ‘filibuster’ and the modern way we have become part of the political process. With the new special session that started this week you can bet the eyes of the world will be monitoring this showdown in the Texas Capitol again, whether it’s in person, through a live stream, or on social media.
“I’m taking advantage of all this modern technology to stay informed, share information and – of course – to figure out how to best be of service this coming night as I will be proud to #StandWithWendy again.”