Politics Weekly 2 – Political takeaways from a crisis in Texas


Courtesy of WFAA

Texas power outages as a result of a blistering winter down have caused some political discussion.

This week, a crisis came to Texas in the form of a dangerous winter storm. Described by the New York Times as a “once-in-a-generation-storm,” the weather event dumped as many as nine inches of snow in some parts of the state. While this amount of snow may be more common to see in some other parts of the country, Texas rarely receives this much snow. As such, infrastructure was not well-prepared for these conditions in many parts of the state. At least 17 people have already died in Texas as of Wednesday morning. Millions are without power, and the situation may still be getting even worse.

As this disaster situation has unfolded, political implications have already begun to arise. From accusations to false claims, political tensions are high as people look for someone or something to blame.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, was on television Tuesday night claiming “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America.” It’s hard to see how that claim makes any sense whatsoever considering that proposed Green New Deal legislation has not yet been enacted in Texas or nationwide.

Meanwhile, many on social media have been quick to mock the disaster in the context of it happening in a Republican state; one tweet that stated “Raise your hand if you’re in a Blue State, it’s real cold, and your lights and heat are still on,” gained over 5,700 retweets and 22,000 likes.

The reality of the political situation around this disaster situation is that neither of these cynical viewpoints is valid. For one, there is clearly no connection between proposed progressive climate legislation and what’s unfolding now. Governor Abbott does hold responsibility in this situation, as many have called in years past for the state government to better winterize and upgrade key infrastructure in the state. His attempt to redirect attention from his actions, and lack thereof, to national controversial issues should be seen through quickly for the absurd attempt at obfuscation that it is.

At the same time, the inclination of some people, often from more liberal viewpoints, to mock the suffering occurring in Texas is also deeply problematic. We forget too often that the goal of government, and thus of politics, is to make things better for people. We need more compassion in political discourse because without it that discourse becomes disconnected from what actually matters. Real people’s lives are at stake, and the fact that Texas is a “red state” changes nothing about the importance of those lives and the tragedy of current events.

We absolutely do need to improve infrastructure across this country. Anger at government officials in Texas and elsewhere who have failed to act and protect citizens is absolutely warranted. That doesn’t excuse trivializing tragedy or dismissing the suffering of people with the majority of whom we may not always agree. In this crisis and every one that comes after, remember that.