Kathleen Parker is an opinion writer for the Washington Post who got published in my local paper in San Antonio today with an article titled "Too Much Glee Over Abortion Filibuster." As she probably did not write that headline I will quote what she wrote in the last paragraph on her dismissive essay about Senator Davis and the folks who supported her in the gallery in Austin during her filibuster: "One may agree with Davis' principled stand on the Texas bill, which, she argued, tried to do too much. Even so, a little less glee from the bleachers would seem more appropriate to the moment." "Glee"? Really? Is that what she heard from the "bleachers"?
I get what Kathleen Parker is trying to say in her article. The abortion issue is a complicated argument that should not be cheapened by political stunts. Yeah, but to limit the efforts of Senator Davis to her filibuster on that night is short-sighted and lazy. To characterize the actions of those protesters in the gallery as "glee" from the "bleachers" is to commit the same sin Kathleen Parker claims to be so incensed by. Over a decade of conservative Republican rule with such meek opposition from the Democratic party has sapped the strength of so many of us in Texas. Years have gone by watching the "leaders" of the opposition quietly acquiesce to or even cooperate with the Republicans on issues like education, transportation, the environment, and, yes, even abortion. So, to have such a strong, fearless fight from Senator Davis is just refreshing. That's not "glee" Kathleen Parker, that's inspiration, relief, motivation. That is "Yes, Democrats, this is how you give a voice to so many of us who watch the Republicans decimate institutions like public schools that we believe in." That is "Hey Democrats, if you will lead, there are many of us who will follow and help."
It is those in the gallery who wanted to discuss the complications of abortion, not the party in power on the floor who reduces every issue of importance to a Frank Luntz inspired slogan for a bumper sticker. It is those in the gallery, and finally one of their elected representatives in the form of Senator Davis, who seek to make sensible public policy instead of playing to a base of idealistic crusaders who see nothing but the black and white of issues.
Senator Davis is not a temporary phenomenon either limited to one issue. As I have pointed out in comments on this site and others, Senator Davis two years ago sent the legislature into special session with a filibuster designed to protest the deep cuts to public education. She gave a voice to many parents, students, and educators that were astonished to see the willingness of the ruling party and governor to ignore the balance in the "Rainy Day" fund and balance a state budget on the backs of the middle class. She continued that fight into this session battling Senator Daniel Patrick and his schemes to line the pockets of private education interests and charter school operators with state money and the property of constituents of independent school districts. (Senator Patrick wanted to force school districts to sell or lease unused school buildings to charter schools ignoring the fact that the construction of those buildings is not funded by the state in most cases but by the people in that school district.) Yet another complicated issue is that of public school funding and administration which is too often reduced to simplistic slogans from the minds of those like Frank Luntz.
"Glee from the bleachers"? No, Kathleen Parker, not "glee." An awakening hopefully that you have underestimated with your dismissive column.