Victory on #SB5 and What Comes Next

(See update at the end of this post for news about 2nd special session calls to action.)

The past few months have been amazing—the initial stirrings of the Texas Spring. But you know how, so often, you get that unseasonal late freeze?

Governor Perry has announced, as we figured we would, a second special session:

Lt. Gov. couldn’t wait to weigh in:

Here are my quick thoughts and fervent hopes. There is bad news first.

We’ll get the same bills, or similar bills, or possibly even worse ones. This time, they will pass. I could be wrong, but I think it is important for everyone to be prepared.

We got lucky that Perry was foolish and prideful enough to wait until halfway through the first special session to add abortion to the call. He’s not going to make that mistake again. Others will avoid the mistakes they made, too. Look for hearings in smaller rooms, meetings at inconvenient times, aggressive manipulation of rules and relationships.

Getting stuck with the bad bills will be discouraging enough.

What I hope won’t happen, but what we also need to be prepared for: groups that need to work together in coalition will find they disagree on what happens next. There are many ways this dynamic can play out, but to sum it up, people will start to act small instead of thinking big. It happens. It isn’t unique to this movement.  

As a result, people who were energized by the tremendous victory at the buzzer, who are eager to take the next action, will be demoralized, then feel burned, then disengage. And that disengagement will compound the challenges we’ve faced all along.

Am I a cynic? Am I wrong? I sure as hell hope so.

Am I saying we need to all be open to everything and assume the best of everyone? That would be nice, but it isn’t realistic, and frankly, not everyone will have the right idea. Some people might even have bad ideas that can set things back.

Stay focused on what made us successful when we stopped SB5.

The biggest victory is the way so many people came together, slowly, steadily, with generous hearts, willing to assume the best of people they’d met via Twitter or standing on a bridge or sitting in the gallery for an all-night hearing in the middle of the week. The biggest victory is the way we’ve grown our network and how we worked together despite different agendas, experiences, abilities, and beliefs.

Movements are fluid. They build to crescendos, but they also have troughs. Don’t fight to get out of the troughs. Important things happen in the low, slow moments. You get a chance to rest and reflect, and a chance to prepare for the next crescendo.

Next session will give us opportunities to reinforce the relationships we’ve built. We might get the chance to learn how we grow through adversity and failure instead of what we just experienced, growing through adversity and victory.  

As much as I hate martial imagery, I’m going to resort to it here. We need to focus on getting what we need out of the battle that the upcoming special session will be, a battle we just might lose, while planning how we win the war.

During the next special session, for example, I’m going to learn how to draft amendments to bills. Set your own goals. Who do you need to know that you don’t? What do you wish you understood better? How can you use the organizing and rallying we’ll inevitably need to do during 83(2) to meet more people, learn how to be a more effective activist, register more voters, engage more people in the movement?

2016 is far away. Play-it-safe Democratic party people say that’s as soon as we can hope to do something big statewide.

To the people who felt the grassroots SURGE over the past few months, 2016 seems too far, too long, too distant. I HATE saying we need to wait until 2016. It is, however, the long game.

I’m not willing to give up on 2014, however, and we have some city and county races in 2013 that we ignore at our peril. (Have you signed up to help Sarah Eckhardt win the Travis County Judge race? She was with us last Thursday, testifying against HB60 and HB16. Let’s make sure we get her in that county judge seat in November.)

Here are a few suggestions for getting ready for what’s ahead:

  • Get some rest.
  • Write thank you notes to the legislators who represent you, if they represented you, or polite but firm notes of concern to your legislators if they did NOT represent you. Angry screeds will get trashed.
  • Start to build your list of the people you know you can call on for future actions. Are you following people on Twitter and FB who can keep you in the loop? Do you have an email list of friends to reach out to when calls to action are issued?
  • Make sure you are registered to vote at your current address. Look yourself up in Harris County at this site; you can google to find your county site if you’re not in Harris.
  • Talk to friends and make sure they, too, are registered at their current addresses.

Give the experienced strategists a few days to rest, reflect, and develop some plans. There probably won’t be a need to rush to Austin on July 1st. Be prepared for the other side to do whatever they can to keep us from having the opportunity to participate in the process. Be prepared in case you hear or see different strategies coming from different groups. Be prepared for a little chaos.

But please, stay engaged. Don’t get discouraged. We’ll need to work on many fronts:

  • Helping the providers and support organizations, like Planned Parenthood, Lilith Fund, Jane’s Due Process;
  • Being active with political groups, like NARAL TX and various PP Action Funds;
  • Supporting the media that get the news out on an ongoing, daily basis, like RH Reality Check and Texas Tribune, and updating our own blogs;
  • Working on candidate campaigns, voter registration and get out the vote drives.

There will be plenty to do.

Not all of it will be as exhilarating or immediately gratifying as spending the night in the Senate gallery, but all of it will need to happen on a massive scale if we are truly going to turn this state around.

Take your vitamins, folks, and lace up your filibuster shoes. We’ve got at least 3 years of hard work ahead of us, and probably more. But we’re up to the challenge. We’re Texas. And a majority of us are pro-choice. Don’t forget that.

Update 6/27/13: Yes, the second special session will start on Monday, July 1, 2013. As of now, however, there is no reason to be at the capitol that day. Of course, you are free to go if you’d like to visit, but no actions are planned, and it would be very unlikely for there to be any hearings scheduled or substantive work done. Make sure you are in touch with a group like NARAL TX, one of the Planned Parenthood Action Funds, or the like, and you’ll be sure to see updates once the schedule and strategy become clear. Don’t burn up vacation days going to Austin until we know what’s what, and recognize that often, especially as the session goes on, things will happen at the last minute or in small rooms, tactics designed to keep us from participating. But so far, we know of nothing on the immediate horizon. 

This entry was posted in advice you didn't ask for, feminists & feminism, Houston, politics, pro-choice activism, time for action and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Victory on #SB5 and What Comes Next

  1. Pingback: Texpatriate | TPA Roundup (July 1, 2013)

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