Late Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, I was lying in bed, in silence, excitedly switching between twitter and the youtube/ustream live feed of the Austin State Capitol. I was by myself in my bed and yet I felt so excited and so anxious, and so involved. Why did I feel that way when I was doing almost literally nothing? I hit me today that I was bearing witness. What happened in the Capitol in Austin has probably happened innumerable times: someone tries to change the status quo, they are steamrolled handily, and history is rewritten by the winners. That didn’t happen on Tuesday because hundreds of thousands of people just like me were bearing witness, thanks to those few who were there in person. It seemed like for every brave soul who went down to Austin and whooped and shouted for 20 minutes straight at 11:45, there were thousands more like me: bearing witness, increasing the audience, sending the message that shenanigans will be documented, there will be screen grabs for evidence, you cannot change the story to suit your wishes this time.
This is how the underrepresented are able to represent themselves. Women and minorities are not proportionally represented in most government bodies, but on Tuesday it felt like Wendy Davis represented the masses. In that chamber, there weren’t enough representatives to vote down Senate Bill 5, but the support Wendy Davis inspired clearly shows that the representatives in the Capitol were not necessarily representing the will of their constituents. As Ann Friedman writes, “By the time Davis had stopped talking…this week was no longer about a few women speaking up. They were joined by women in the Texas Senate chamber, out the door in the rotunda, outside the capitol building, and on Twitter, and all over the world.”
I know this was just one bill, and a second session has already been called by Governor Perry to readdress the bill, but this felt like such a watershed moment. As my mom said, it represents the transition of power from the older generation to the new. The old way of doing business isn’t acceptable to my generation: cigars, scotch, and leather chairs behind closed doors. Wendy Davis became a conduit for women nationwide, and a catalyst for an audience of citizens who are tired of being ignored and misrepresented. This was largely due to the involvement of social media as the vehicle for information delivery, as opposed to corporate media, which was nowhere to be found. This resulted in an unprecedented accessibility, and a story told by participants, rather than professionals. There were mistakes and misinformation, to be sure, but the event was owned by social media, and there was no time to clean it up, ignore the timestamps, pretend it was 11:59, or spin the players as fringe activists, or terrorists, as Senator Bill Zedler called Davis.
I know it’s not the end, and I know I need to be doing a lot more to be involved in these issues. I know there is a long road ahead for equality and appropriate representation for all. But gosh, this week felt good, and inspiring, and politics so rarely makes anyone feel that way. And that is why I wanted to tell the perhaps unnecessary story of how the grainy footage of 1,000 people yelling in a state office building 1,732 miles away made me cry alone in my bed.
Here is some interesting reading about this weeks’ events from