Wendy Davis talks Texas in Washington
WASHINGTON — Texas Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis returned to Washington, D.C. Monday, bringing her more progressive Lone Star message to a luncheon at the National Press Club.
In Washington, Davis focused her remarks mostly on Texas and her own personal story as a single mother who got an education and raised herself up to become one of the summer’s most discussed lawmakers.
“People get a little bit nervous when I approach a podium these days, and I am sure that you obviously know what happened on June 25th in the Texas state legislature. But in case you were one of the few people who was not live streaming it — I thought I’d just repeat the entire thing for you again today. So y’all just need to get comfortable,” she joked at the outset, referencing the 13-hour filibuster she staged in June to temporarily block abortion restricting legislation in Texas.
The bill ultimately became law, passing in a special legislative session and reaching Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s pen in July, but Davis’ effort earned her national coverage and made her a hero to pro-abortion activists, and a ready-made nemesis for anti-abortion advocates.
Davis, considered a rising star in the Democratic Party since her filibuster, discussed her role as a voice for the voiceless, using a childhood story of writing letters for her grandfather as a jumping off point and moving into her ability to provide a voice for pro-choice women and men during her filibuster.
“The voices we heard in support of my filibuster that night are not the ones we normally hear amplified across the state of Texas. And I think a lot of people who live outside our state are surprised that they even exist,” she said. “But Texans know that the voices in our state that shout the loudest haven’t often been the ones that speak for everyone.”
“That night, the nation was introduced to a force within our state — a force that’s going to have a lot to say about the shape that the future of Texas takes, the shape that America takes,” she said.
Davis lamented the state of Texas’ education system, the number of children in poverty in Texas, and the number of uninsured children in the state.
While Davis attacked Republicans in Texas for not listening to the people, she stressed a need for bipartisanship and interest in issues that are not traditionally Democratic.
“They brag about our low unemployment while at the same time slashing and dramatically underfunding public education,” she said.
“They’re not being true to what people in Texas are actually saying — people that they claim to represent. It would be just as if I pretended to be listening to my grandfather had to say and writing down whatever I felt,” Davis added.
Davis spoke at length about her own personal struggles, as a single mom, living in poverty until she got an education, eventually graduating from Harvard Law School.
“Anyone who believes that everything is bigger in Texas did not see the trailer my daughter and I lived in. I was always on the brink of a financial disaster back then—a flat tire meant having to choose a belonging to pawn at my local pawn shop,” she said.
She explained that her real life struggles have informed her legislative process.
“So the challenges that I’ve taken on as a legislator are really about two things: a path and a voice. And though I’ve been characterized by our governor and some others in the legislature as a bit of a problem, my record is really about trying to find solutions,” she said.
Nevertheless, according to Davis, while it can be important to find common ground, sometimes people have to “take a stand on sacred ground.”
“I will seek common ground because we all must. But sometimes you have to take a stand on sacred ground. Liberty. The freedom to choice what your future will hold,” she said.
“In the past few weeks, I’ve had so many young women tell me how much it meant to them see me stand up for them and alongside them,” she added. “And after that filibuster, I had more than a few come to me and simply cry. And what I see in their tears are not tears of defeat. Instead, it’s their understanding that even if only for a short while their voices, as much as mine, made a difference in the landscape of what was happening in the state of Texas. They were feeling the empowerment of discovery.”
Davis concluded her prepared remarks to a standing ovation. In the question-and-answer portion of the event she signaled she would be open to a run for governor in 2014.
Davis was last in Washington, D.C. in late July to fundraise.
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