In this era of political cynicism, you could argue that few people of either party inspire the sort of fascination that Fort Worth Democrat Wendy Davis once did.
It was a spectacular moment on the floor of the Texas Senate in 2013. It seemed to come out of nowhere too – a woman in tennis shoes, holding her ground in outrage over limits to reproductive freedom. Seemingly overnight, Davis became the de facto face of Democratic Texas, the loyal opposition on the rise. But after a run for the state’s top office – and a crushing loss to Governor Greg Abbott –Davis seemed to disappear from the political stage.
Well now she’s back. She’s stepped forward to help support the ONE campaign, a global initiative to shed light on women and girls in developing countries who are often disproportionately affected by poverty. She’s also working on her own, as of yet unannounced, initiative focusing on gender equality.
Davis spoke to host David Brown about the initiative, her 2013 filibuster, a potential spot on the democratic national election ticket and her recent kerfuffle with the Texas Ethics Commission.
“I want to take an opportunity to advance the conversation and to hopefully inspire more women to get involved by voting and by donating for candidates who support issues that are important to women everywhere,” Davis says. “I think it’s important for us to put aside partisan differences, to set aside our age differences, our racial differences, and understand that as women we owe an obligation each to the other and that together we can very powerfully drive an agenda that will advance the interests of women throughout this country.”
But if you’re going to wage a campaign on the grounds of equality, where do you begin?
“You begin by educating people,” she says. “I think one of the things that was so powerful about that filibuster didn’t have anything to do with me. It was about the very human stories that were told on the Senate floor that day. It was about the thousands of people who came to the Capitol because they had their own experiences, or loved someone who had an experience, or the thousands of people who were watching online. Everyone brings a personal story to the table when it comes to reproductive rights. And I think that people were motivated to tune in that day because it tapped into something: a shared human experience. We need to do more than that. We need to humanize the issues.”
Is this a second chapter for Davis?
“It’s always been my passion to help people. It’s why I got involved in public service to begin with,” Davis says. I believe that we don’t have to hold public office to work on the issues that matter deeply for us.”
Listen to the full interview to hear more.