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Push Your Politicians: A Few More Words From Wendy Davis (SXSW)

Posted in Journalism, and SXSW

Yesterday, The Establishment published my profile of “Trapped,” the important new documentary on abortion laws, along with my SXSW interview with former state senator Wendy Davis.

As always, there’s more material from the interview that has to go on the proverbial cutting room floor. One thing that didn’t make it into my article was some of her comments about activism and party politics. When I shared Wendy Davis’ red carpet photo on my Facebook, a few of my friends responded with hostility toward her over what they perceived to be a rift between the activists who fought HB2 in the halls of the Capitol, and the Democratic Party push to launch her campaign.

While I did feel tension between members of the Travis County Democrats and activists like myself, I never blamed Davis for it personally, who I respect a great deal for her filibuster and her openness about her own abortions. I do, however, see that the Democratic Party has a habit of subsuming radical moments and movements into party politics.

I asked Davis during our interview about 2013 protests, and why some activists felt tension between Democratic politics and the needs of Texans who are being denied reproductive justice by laws like HB2. She replied,

There shouldn’t be tension between the party and the needs of people. That’s what party is supposed to represent. I think people are more than within their rights push their politicians even if it makes them uncomfortable, to do their jobs and to not shy away from protecting women’s access to abortions, among a host of other issues as well.

I appreciate Wendy echoing what I’ve always believed — that it’s up to activists to push politicians to do better, even the ones on “our side,” and, as she says, “even if it makes them uncomfortable.”

I also asked Wendy about why people seem so disenfranchised from voting. Only about 28 percent of eligible voters in Texas came out to the polls in 2014. Here are her thoughts, only a portion of which made it into the article:

So many complicated reasons. Gerrymandering. Laws that have sought to diminish not increase people’s access to the polls. And also living in a state like Texas where it seems like even you do weigh in, your vote doesn’t seem to make a difference. We just have to keep at it. We cannot give up.

I truly believe when enough come out believe in the power of their own voice and show up and weigh in, we are going to change things. Texas is a great example of that. I still firmly believe that Texas is a not red state, it is a non-voting blue state. And when our blue voters decide they’re going to wake up and own their power, that’s when we’re going to change things.

Like Wendy Davis, I dream of the day that our disenfranchised take their power back. I’m somewhat less sure it will happen in the voting booth, though, for many of the same reasons she outlines.

‘Trapped’ Reveals The Human Cost Of Anti-Abortion Laws – The Establishment