Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Senator Envy

I am often envious of people living in other states, or even other parts of my state, for their awesome state senators and representatives.

As I live in the Kansas City Metro Area, I read a lot about Missouri Sen. Jolie Justus, who represents a district including parts of Kansas City, MO. She's an out lesbian, and the first openly gay member of the Missouri Senate. She also generally seems to look out for her poorest constituents; whenever I see her quoted in the Kansas City Star she seems to be talking about how such-and-such measure would affect the poor, the disabled, the homeless etc. She seems to want to make Missouri a kinder, gentler, more inclusive place.

I have also had reason to wish that I lived in a different part of Kansas, so that Kansas Sen. Marci Francisco would be my senator instead of Sen. Greg Smith. I wrote to both of them (and the rest of the members of the Natural Resources subcommittee of the Kansas Senate Ways and Means Committee) concerning an effort to reintroduce black-footed ferrets on private property in western Kansas, and a resolution their committee was considering that would oppose this effort. Sen. Francisco wrote back to me, and gave the impression that she was well-informed on the issue, and that she shared my concern that the resolution being discussed was written in a hugely misleading way. She also told me about several efforts she had made to change the language of the resolution by amending it, and that she would keep trying to edit out the parts that she thought were wrong. (Sort of hedging one's bets, is how I took it: the ideal outcome would've been for the resolution to fail, but if it looked like it might pass, it would be less hostile to the reintroduction effort than it would've been without her intervention. I can appreciate that.)

Now I have another state senator to covet and admire from afar: Texas Sen. Wendy Davis. She's filibustering a particularly draconian set of restrictions on abortion that would close the vast majority of Texas's abortion clinics. Should the bill become law, only five clinics (out of 47) could stay open, and those five are all clustered in the eastern part of Texas.

Map showing all clinics in Texas that offer abortion (top), and all of those clinics that meet the requirements laid out in SB5. Graphic made by Whole Woman's Health
Anyway, Sen. Davis is taking heroic measures to block this bill! She's been standing on the Senate floor and speaking since 11:18 this morning, and she's going to keep speaking until midnight tonight. She has had to stay in that spot for the whole ten hours she's been speaking, and will have to stay there for the two hours and forty-five minutes she still has to go. She can't stop talking, leave (even to use the bathroom), eat or drink. Republican senators have even called foul on her for wearing a back brace at one point in her filibuster. At least she's wearing good shoes!

I am in awe of how hardcore she is. I'm a lot younger than she is, and in good physical shape, but I don't think I could do what she's doing, even on a pure physical level. (Seriously. I can work outside for six, seven or eight hours in the hot sun, like when I dug an 80-foot-long, maybe 18" deep on average trench in my mom's backyard to put in a brick wall border for a giant flowerbed we're still filling up. Did that all by myself, during peak sun hours in a Kansas summer. It was probably high 80s or low 90s*. Yet I am probably 85%-90% certain I would collapse before the end of the twelve-hour, forty-two-minute filibuster she's powering through.) Obviously I wouldn't have the quick wits to come up with original, relevant content to fill a twelve-hour filibuster; apparently in real life you can't just grab the nearest book and start reading aloud.

*For any international readers I might have, those numbers are on the Fahrenheit scale. In degrees Celsius, it was probably 30-35. Hot by my standards, anyway. Some of you might scoff at that, but I am a transplant from further north, and I miss winter. 


Nancy Green said...

I admire Wendy Davis too. My senator is Sheldon Whitehouse, who quietly does good work in Washington and I'll vote for him again.

Anonymous said...

I used to have a good MP when I was at grad school in the person of the excellent Elizabeth May. Then I went back to Winnipeg, and my MP became the dreadful Joyce Bateman, so I am now in the condition of envying myself from a few months ago.

Sally Archer said...

Love Wendy Davis and her sheroism, too, of breaking records for fillibustering where the system is as fillibuster-rigid as the one in Texas! Happy to see your comment tonight on another blog I have sporadically followed, womensreality. You left a great comment on THG, which I replied to (sorry I hadn't been there to look for awhile). Cheers, and keep blogging. You're a really good writer!