While Texans Froze, Ted Cruz Took Off to Cancun.
Whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, or the coverage on national television, it’s been difficult to miss what’s currently happening in the state of Texas. An unprecedented winter storm has left Texas’ private electrical infrastructure unable to keep up with the demand, resulting in rolling blackouts and tens of millions without power or heat in well below freezing weather. Sharing stories on twitter so that others would understand the severity of what was going on, writer Summer Anne Burton discussed how her neighbor was walking to the local 7–11 in an area that happens to have a high homeless population, and found a dead woman frozen to the sidewalk. In response to an article where Rick Perry had the audacity to say Texans were willing to suffer blackouts if it meant the federal government was out of their power grid, Kassandra Aleman describes waking up at 4 in the morning thinking she was going to die in her 20 degree room, unable to bring her body temperature up in spite of all the protective layers she was wearing.
So, in the midst of a storm that has resulted in his constituents freezing to death and millions without power in freezing weather, where was Texas Senator Ted Cruz?
Heading to Cancun with his family, of course.
As one might have predicted, there was justifiable blowback from people not just in Texas but throughout the country, who were outraged that someone in a position of power — with Cruz’s track record in particular — would leave for a vacation in Mexico while his constituents are at home without power, freezing. While his decision to leave was as infuriating as it is unsurprising, his explanation in response to the blowback at least added a layer of amusement. In response to the criticism, Cruz’s team actually came up with the justification that he had left in order to be a “good dad”, so that he could accompany his children and wife on a flight to Cancun where he said they would be spending the week with friends.
Cruz had an economy flight back home to Texas the following afternoon.
Of course, the fact that Cruz has often criticized politicians from both political parties for vacationing in times of crisis only adds to the story. Whether it be attacking the Mayor of Austin for going to Cabo during the coronavirus pandemic, or making snide comments about Christ Christie’s trip to a closed beach during a New Jersey government shutdown, the Senator certainly likes to hold other lawmakers to a standard he has no interest in holding himself to.
But for me personally, that little predictable detail so prevalent among America’s political elite was the least interesting aspect of all of this. What struck me was that as the country and the world continue to be ravaged by storms of even worse magnitude than what Texas is dealing with as a direct result of climate catastrophe, Ted Cruz was merely giving us a glimpse of the type of behavior we can expect from the elite ruling class in the decades to come. Essentially, all Ted Cruz did was show the American people exactly what the response of the elite will be to climate catastrophe.
As California’s wildfires only get worse with each passing year, painting the skies read, leaving untold numbers of wildlife dead and residents unable to exit their front door for fresh air, do any of us really expect that Jeff Bezos would merely wait out the storm like everyone else is forced to? Would Elon Musk simply shut himself indoors and hope his home wasn’t engulfed in flames? Would Charles Koch be hunkering down for days without power in weather that reached as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit? As is so often the case in circumstances like this, Ted Cruz’s behavior was a glimpse of what the future will look like in a world ravaged by climate change, and served as a brutal reminder of the reality that the worst effects of the already unfolding climate crisis will be the worst for those who do not have the means to escape.
It should go without saying that Texas is a warning for all of us in more ways than one. Not only is it showing us who will be dealing with the effects of climate change and who won’t, but it’s an example of the dire need for public ownership of utilities, where the need for heat and electricity is not tied to a company’s obligation to turn a profit. Unfortunately, we’re already seeing what’s going to happen on a mass scale if we don’t respond in kind to the warnings that only get more clear and dire with each passing season.