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This piece was originally published in the February 18, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.
“This is not the breakdown of the system — this is a system that is broken down by design.”
— Julián Castro on the crisis facing his home state
Texans are dying. Ted Cruz just reminded us that he doesn’t care.
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IN THE NEWS
- As Texans entered their fourth day of freezing weather conditions and widespread power outages last night, reports began to surface that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was hopping on a plane at the Houston airport and heading off to Cancún, Mexico, seemingly for a sunny escape from the horrific conditions that continue to wreak havoc on his constituents.
- To add insult to injury, Cruz doubled down this afternoon, attempting to justify his trip south of the border by claiming that his daughters wanted to take a trip with friends during their week off of school, and that he was simply accompanying them down to Cancún. (Sure, Ted. We’ll let the size of his suitcase speak for itself.)
- Putting the audacity of ditching your constituents during a pandemic aside, Cruz shouldn’t be taking an international vacation right now anyway. In case you forgot, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. You know, among the hundreds of other reasons that it’s insulting for a U.S. senator to be skipping town right now. By traveling to Mexico for non-essential business, Cruz is disregarding a recent Centers for Disease Control warning not to travel to Mexico due to the country’s alarming COVID-19 situation. He’s also putting Mexico’s residents at risk.
- If you haven’t been following the situation in Texas closely, just know that it is very, very bad. Texas residents who are able to communicate their situation to the public — a limited pool, considering many people have been without wifi for days — are reporting little improvement in their situation since the freezing temperatures and power outages began on Sunday. While power has thankfully been restored to some Texans, they’re now facing a new challenge: Access to safe water.
- There’s really no way to make light of this grim situation. Some residents shared dark anecdotes of the desperate measures they’re taking to stay warm, including deconstructing wood furniture to build fires. Millions of Texans are now under a boil water advisory, with the Texas Tribune reporting today that more than half the state is facing water disruptions. As some have pointed out, it’s hard to boil water when you have neither a functional stove or water to boil on said stove.
- In the middle of all this chaos, we’re still in a pandemic. The freezing weather and related power outages have hindered the state’s vaccine rollout and forced people to forgo social distancing in order to find a safe place to wait out the storm.
- Ted Cruz is an awful senator. But the situation in Texas isn’t just about him. What happened in Texas is a policy failure. It’s a policy failure crafted intentionally and over several decades by the right-wing politicians in charge of the state’s government who have repeatedly refused to modernize their state’s power system or to stray from their unwavering pro-polluter agenda to bring the state’s energy infrastructure up to modern standards.
- The fact that the power is still out for hundreds of thousands of Texans? Not an accident. The lack of government support for residents who are perishing in the cold, their lives dependent on whether they have a friend with power who can take them in? Not an accident, either. This is what happens when right-wing politicians are handed the reins of state government for decades — and this week is proof that real people ultimately face the consequences of government negligence and mismanagement.
- What we’re seeing in Texas is the result of a cruel experiment in “small government” that has gone on for far too long. As Beto O’Rourke said this week, Texas is “nearing a failed state.” This crisis wasn’t about some inevitable natural disaster. “It has everything to do with the leadership and those in the positions of public trust who have failed us.” For more on the situation in Texas, the Texas Tribune published this detailed post-mortem of what went wrong.
If you’re looking for a way to help Texas, here is a list of groups that are helping get at-risk Texans to safety.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Today we celebrate the birthdays of two iconic Black women writers: Toni Morrison and Audre Lorde. Born in 1934 to Caribbean immigrants in New York City, Audre Lorde authored famous poetry and essay collections from the 1960s into the late 1980s. She is known for her powerful writings on intersectionality and her moving, honest depictions of what it was like to exist as a queer Black woman in America. Toni Morrison, who would have turned 90 years old today, is best known for her award-winning novel Beloved. Her brilliant writing earned her a Nobel Prize, a Pulitzer, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
WHAT WE’RE READING (AND LISTENING TO)
- I’m Freezing Cold and Burning Mad in Texas by Andrew Exum (The Atlantic)
- Texas Woman Almost Ran Out Of Oxygen From Snowstorm Blackout by Julia Reinstein (BuzzFeed News)
- Abolish the Federal Death Penalty by Elizabeth Bruenig (New York Times)
- How An Enslaved Woman Sued And Won Her Freedom by Nancy Eve Cohen (WBUR)
- The 150-year-old Ku Klux Klan Act being used against Trump in Capitol attack Erick Trickey (Washington Post)
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