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The Texas Senate's legislative rules make filibustering a truly arduous process. If you picture Jimmy Stewart swaying, bracing himself on a desk and hoarsely declaiming about lost causes before he faints, well he had it easy. In order to keep the floor in Texas, a Senator has to completely support his or her own weight (no leaning) and has to stay on the topic of the bill under discussion.

During the fight for filibuster reform in the US Senate, even the Mr. Smith version of the filibuster was well outside the limits of discussion. Even the requirement to actually hold the floor to maintain a filibuster was considered too unreasonable, even though Rand Paul demonstrated with his leisurely tag-team effort a few months ago that Senators still had the ability to do so. No, the biggest support was behind simply limiting the number of opportunities the minority would have to signal the intention of filibustering, thus requiring a 60 vote threshold to proceed. Even that failed.

Much of the opposition to filibuster reform from the majority was from long-time senators warning about the loss of a vital tool for when the Democrats are again in the minority. The Republicans naturally didn't want to give up the ability to comfortably halt any legislation at will.

Texas State Senator Wendy Davis put the entire US Senate to shame when she stood up and spoke eloquently for eleven hours solely about Texas women's right to healthcare and abortion. She wasn't able to stop, take a drink, go to the bathroom, or even lean on the podium. There was no telling jokes or reading the phone book. She wasn't able to switch off with her buddies.

Wendy Davis showed that courage and passion can fuel tremendous efforts. She managed a truly difficult legislative maneuver. Washington Democrats failure to reform the filibuster because of the specter of future inconvenience looks even more cowardly in comparison. It's as though nobody in Washington feels confident that they can muster the conviction to stand up for issues if they actually have to stand up to do so.


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