February 26, 2021

Amid suffering, Texas GOP fought a culture war


Jamelle Bouie
 |  The New York Occasions

Everyone knows by now that Ted Cruz went on trip whereas Texas froze.

During the last week, tens of millions of Texans have suffered within the chilly as employees tried to revive energy amid freezing temperatures and icy circumstances. Final Thursday, the official native dying toll from the snow, ice and energy outages stood at 24.

Moderately than keep behind and assist coordinate support and federal help, the state’s junior senator went to Cancún, earlier than widespread outrage introduced him again to america.

In fact, Cruz has no formal energy within the state authorities of Texas. His is extra a failure of optics and political management than governance per se.

Greg Abbott, who really is the governor of Texas, doesn’t have that excuse. As Texans froze, he went on Fox Information to falsely blame renewable vitality and the as-yet-realized Inexperienced New Deal for the disaster in Texas. “This reveals how the Inexperienced New Deal could be a lethal deal for america of America,” he mentioned. “Texas is blessed with a number of sources of vitality, akin to pure fuel and oil and nuclear, in addition to photo voltaic and wind. However … our wind and our photo voltaic bought shut down and so they have been collectively greater than 10% of our energy grid, and that thrust Texas right into a state of affairs the place it was missing energy on a statewide foundation.”

Confronted with one of many worst crises within the current historical past of the state, Republicans have turned their consideration away from circumstances on the bottom and towards the objects of their ideological ire. The difficulty isn’t vitality coverage, it’s liberals and environmentalists, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — a New York congresswoman who was a baby when Texas constructed its first wind farms — and local weather activists.

Amid terrible struggling and deteriorating circumstances, Texas Republicans determined to struggle a tradition warfare. In doing so, they’re emblematic of the nationwide social gathering, which has deserted even the pretense of governance in favor of the celebration of infinite grievance.

It must be mentioned that there’s no thriller in regards to the collapse of the Texas electrical grid. A once-in-a-century chilly entrance spiked demand past the capability of the system as Texans turned up the warmth of their properties and plugged of their area heaters. On the identical time, a lot of the infrastructure for energy within the state was disabled by the snow and ice. What do you get if you add a sudden surge of demand to an equally sudden lack of capability? A disaster, whose roots lie in a decade’s price of deregulation and cost-cutting, of an vitality “independence” that has left the state on the mercy of the weather.

This catastrophe, in different phrases, is the fruit of coverage, of particular decisions made by lawmakers in Texas. And it’s this incontrovertible fact that helps clarify the response to the disaster of Abbott and the Texas Republican Celebration, which has ruled the state as a laboratory for conservative concepts for a lot of the final 20 years. Once you don’t wish to face the implications of your actions as a lawmaker — if you’d somewhat demonize scapegoats than give solutions — you struggle a tradition warfare.

However then, that is simply what it means to be a Republican politician now. Accountability is out, distraction is in. You don’t take care of issues, you make them fodder for zero-sum partisan battle. As president, Donald Trump refused to deal with the coronavirus pandemic as a problem to beat with management and experience. As a substitute, he made it one other battle within the tradition wars, from whether or not you wore a masks as to if you remained away from public locations. He spent extra time making an attempt to racialize the virus for affordable factors than he did giving steering to the American public.

Sure, Trump is a straightforward goal. However you’ll discover the identical dynamic in any respect ranges of Republican politics. 

This flip away from even the looks of conventional governance is most obvious among the many latest members of the Home Republican caucus. Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, is a glorified social media influencer, seemingly extra involved with making content material for followers than bringing support or help to her district.

In his Inaugural Handle, President Joe Biden urged “unity.” This wasn’t a name for bipartisanship. It was a plea to “decrease the temperature” and to “see one another not as adversaries however as neighbors.” Politics, he mentioned, “needn’t be a raging fireplace destroying all the things in its path” and “each disagreement doesn’t should be a trigger for whole warfare.”

Biden’s enchantment stands in stark distinction with the reigning ethos of the Republican Celebration because it exists as we speak. Nothing, not even a lethal disaster, will flip Republicans away from a politics that rejects problem-solving in favor of grievance-mongering.

Our system has room for 2 main political events. One among them, nonetheless imperfectly, not less than makes an attempt to manipulate. The opposite has devoted its vitality to leisure. It’s a tragedy for the individuals of Texas that at this second of hazard they should take care of a authorities of showmen.

Bouie is a New York Occasions columnist.



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