Yeah ok... As a Democrat and someone who didn't go to UT-Austin, I have to admit that I would have preferred a different set of colors for the Stand With Texas Women movement. What's worse is having the Anti-Choice counter attack steal our blue. Not cool.
But the irony of yesterday's Stand With Texas Women's Rally in downtown Houston? It may have been orange from the outside, but you could feel some serious energy within to Turn Texas Blue.
The crowd started off reasonably strong... 200 or so people standing by the Discovery Green stage, mostly trying to stay out of the punishing sunlight, signing petitions and rapidly buying their burnt orange shirts. You could tell that the people showing up in Houston had just left work (like me) and were tired from the busy day they had already experienced.
But as soon as the crowd got word that the Stand With Texas Women Tour Bus was pulling up, new life seemed to take over the crowd. They suddenly found a collective Second Wind, and the strength to stand and shout at Discovery Green park. And finally, after another brief delay, the real rallying started. Texas' newest political rockstar Wendy Davis, accompanied by Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, and State Senators Sylvia Garcia and Rodney Ellis of Houston, Jose Rodriguez of El Paso, and Kirk Watson of Austin. What felt like a few hundred people dispersed around Discovery Green swelled quickly to 1,000 as we condensed near the stage in a veritable sea of orange.
Cecile Richards kicked things off...
"It's wasn't just that Gov. Perry and some of his allies in the Legislature ended the women's health program and cut more than 130,000 women in Texas off of preventive care, but now the Legislature is considering a bill that would force dozens more health centers in this state to close their doors making it even harder for women to get care and ending access to safe and legal abortion."
The crowd definitely cheered at times, but also listened intently to each person at the mic. Like the above, it "felt" different... maybe because it wasn't technically a political rally, but because this was a group of Texans that were putting up a fight. But no one was lost to the fact that this was a Democratic affair. State Senator Garcia, with Wendy Davis standing directly behind her, got the loudest cheer of the night.
"Instead of Texas women always having to fight our Governor, maybe it's time for a Texas woman to BE our Governor."
Yeah, that was basically all it took to make that group happy. And that's when it hit me... Texas' conversion to a swing state is happening right before our eyes. Even a couple years ago, Democrat and Leftist forces would have never put even a dime into something as intricate as a bus tour in Texas. When the 2011 legislature decimated our education budget (Wendy Davis' first filibuster), most of the media wrote it off as "par for the course" in Perrystan. But now in two short years... who am I kidding... 4 short weeks... We're standing here rallying and recruiting activists like we're just west of Florida's I-4 corridor. This is the stuff that I remember watching all across the country in 2010 and 2012. Every time Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi said something even halfway controversial, the other side had a bus ready to go. And for the GOP, they barely need an excuse to wait. But in Texas politics? Complete dormancy.
The Bus Tour is evidence that Texas Democrats are beginning to put the puzzle together. If the GOP continues to suppress and oppress, then it's up to Democrats to not sit silent, but stand up and fight. Keep shining the light on GOP atrocities and tie these events into voter registration. Work hard to wake up the massive group of disengaged people out there. And if that can happen, they're going to roll right through the orange patch, and turn Texas blue.