North Texas Daily

What Winter Storm Uri means for Texas politicians

What Winter Storm Uri means for Texas politicians

What Winter Storm Uri means for Texas politicians
March 06
12:00 2021

The historic ice storm in Texas was a rude awakening for its citizens. We now know how unprepared our energy system is to combat conditions that are commonplace up north, being mere minutes away from an even more devastating blackout. It was also a showcase of how some of the state’s elected officials choose to use their immense power and influence. In a state filled with historic pride and patriotism that rivals the very country it resides in, this weather crisis may act as the catalyst for voters to realize the old ways might no longer be the best.

The easiest and most obvious example is Sen. Ted Cruz’s Cancun escapade. Just about everyone with a Twitter account gave him a verbal whipping when he was caught redhanded on his way to vacation in Mexico. His behavior and the state of Texas’ energy system perfectly reflect the current state of Texas politics. It is patriotic hubris at its finest and most damaging, as their harmful rhetoric has resulted in horrific realities for Texans.

It’s all too much to truly grasp the severity of the entire situation but if Cruz’s arrogant and pompous CPAC speech is any indication, he does not fear for his place within the Republican Party. He revels as the literal right-hand man for the party because he feels there is no legitimate threat to his leadership, opting to blame his daughters for his Cancun trip. Self-deprecating humor is often welcome in politics, but when his state’s incompetence threatens the well-beings of the citizens who he is supposed to serve, a tongue-in-cheek joke makes him appear more delusional than ever.

Pair that with how his political rivals rose to the occasion and you find a depressingly stark contrast in priorities. While Cruz was doing obvious damage control to salvage his image, his former senate rival Beto O’Rourke drove through various parts of Texas that are feeling the lasting effects of their government’s incompetence. Putting his famous social media savviness to good use, O’Rourke was able to amplify the voices of everyday Texans who rightly need immediate help.

Even New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez helped raise over $4 million to help Texans still facing hardships after the winter storm. Teaming up with Texas Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee and Sylvia Garcia, they volunteered at the Houston Food Bank and used their platform to encourage people to help those in need.

It not only speaks volumes of AOC’s proactiveness and being the face of a new political generation, but it once again shines a light on the ineptitude of longstanding Texas politicians. Her actions also show her willingness to simply help people, even if it means she’s thousands of miles away from New York. Sure, doing generous acts in public is hardly revolutionary in the political realm, her genuine endearingness is a refreshing change of pace from the manufactured and forced acts of goodwill by Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott.

The snowstorm in Texas has essentially shown the hand they’re dealt. For one, it is now widely known that the state was woefully unprepared to brave such conditions, leaving millions without power for an extended period of time and tragically causing the deaths of a few Texans. For another, such tragedies are a bi-product of the longstanding political establishment in Texas, as elected officials like Abbott and Cruz don’t seem to worry about facing repercussions. Cruz is treating the whole Cancun scandal as if it were something to joke about and not the wake-up call it ought to be.

Being ardent conservatives, they favor the intuition and enterprise of the people over government control. Although that is an appealing notion on the surface, it inevitably leads those in power to act on their worst impulses. Abbott can blame the Green New Deal, which doesn’t even exist in the state, and face minimal backlash for blatantly spreading misinformation. If the 2018 Senate race is any indication, the status quo for Texas politics is set to be radically shaken. Texas has long been at political crossroads.

Though we’re a state that lovingly prides itself in its storied heritage and tradition, it is that love of formality that makes the idea of change so frightening. This winter storm has laid bare its leaders: there are those who choose to help and use their voice for good while others who insist the old ways are still the most effective. For the sake of Texas and the safety of its citizens, let’s hope the pendulum swings sooner rather than later.

Featured Illustration by Pooja Patel

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Kevin Diaz

Kevin Diaz

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