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The next time you hear Republicans bemoaning the crippling oppression foisted upon big business in America by government regulations, whisper the word “Texas” to them.

If it can be said that there is an enjoyable aspect to any huge political blunder, it is in the attempt at damage control by the miscreant. With that in mind, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s hasty retreat to the balmy luxury of the Ritz Carlton in Cancun in the middle of a deep freeze that has left people in his state shivering, hungry, and, in some cases, dead was: 1.) His attempt to be “a good dad” 2.) Planned far in advance 3.) No big deal what with everything else going on. Even right wing apologists on Fox News, so practiced at spinning cotton candy out of polluted air after four years of “the previous guy,” were hard pressed to make the contemptible abandonment palatable.

Look at the positive side. That wasn’t a suitcase Mr. Cruz was dragging behind him through the airport. It was his presidential aspirations.

The outcry, according to Cruz, is just more evidence of the lack of civility in this country. I would like to know on what planet this guy lives where justifiable outrage over a gross dereliction of responsibility can be casually dismissed as a lack of civility. Mr. Cruz has no hesitation stirring up outrage, but he professes to be mightily offended when it happens.

Bear in mind, this is the same guy who waved his pompoms in support of the deadly insurrection at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6. He voted against extending aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2013. And his contention that he wanted to be “a good dad” evidently doesn’t encompass any concern for being regarded as a good husband or a good son. He enthusiastically supported our ex-president after that peerless name-caller made disparaging remarks about his wife’s appearance and even implied that Cruz’s father was involved in John Kennedy’s assassination.

His recent behavior while people in his state suffered is just more evidence of the toxic combination of too much ambition and too little character. I hope the sight of this paunchy, entitled, arrogant (this is a family newspaper, so fill in the blank) hightailing it for an upscale beach resort while his constituents freeze sticks in the minds of the people in Texas like the battle scarred façade of the Alamo.

I wonder how many other people who were responsible for what happened in Texas were also warming their padded butts on sandy shores; the folks who were so instrumental in excluding the state from the onus of federal regulations that might possibly have averted a disaster that they had been warned was inevitable.

Given the fact that the best interests of the oil and gas industries seep their way into every political decision, no state has fought attempts to avert the environmental catastrophes that are inherent with climate change so ferociously. And no state heralds itself as a bastion of feisty independence with such tedious regularity.

Texas politicians exempted the fossil fuel industry from regulation by the Federal Power Commission in the 1930s because it posed a threat to gluttonous profits. It remained that way until the formulation of something called the Energy Reliability Council of Texas in the 1970s. ERCOT is still under domain of the state and has been described as an “industry club” that has proven to be conspicuously unreliable as far as public welfare is concerned.

If shameless arrogance turned windmill blades, the Republican leadership in Texas could provide the power to light every home in the nation. Stumbling for some target to pin the blame for their own massive failures, Gov. Greg Abbott and state land commissioner George P. Bush (and, yes, it’s that family) opted to offer up the renewable energy industry on the sacrificial altar.

They conveniently failed to mention that during the winter renewable energy sources only cover about 7 percent of the state’s needs, with the rest coming from natural gas, coal, and a small amount of nuclear power. As Paul Krugman pointed out in a scathing column in the New York Times, this is an example of the “raw denial of reality, not just to escape accountability, but to demonize one’s opponents.”

Welcome to the dispensability of truth in post-Trump America.

Ted Cruz’s craven behavior may curtail his political dreams even if he chooses to retain the beard that makes his perennial sneer a little less pronounced. If nothing else, it should say volumes about his capacity for misjudgment to Texas voters unless, of course, his selfish abandonment is interpreted as just another example of good ol’ Lone Star State individuality.

Voters in America have a remarkable capacity to forgive and forget unless they have been directly — and, more to the point, negatively — impacted. People in Texas were shivering while the energy czars who bankroll the careers of flacks like Ted Cruz saw the disaster as a financial windfall from soaring energy prices. That should tend to stick in a voter’s mind.

It is possible that no one reading this today will be around when the realization really sets in that time for the fossil fuel industry is running out. One of President Biden’s first initiatives was to rejoin the Paris climate agreement. General Motors has announced the complete elimination of gas- and diesel-powered vehicles by the year 2035. Every step to address the ongoing crisis of climate change is another nail in the coffin of fossil fuels. The longer it takes for politicians like Cruz and Abbott to recognize this fact, the more difficult it will be for their state to make the transition into a more viable future for their state’s economies.

Put in terms of the conclusions of countless western films that have fixed and defined the idealization of Texas for generations: the sun is setting and voters will hopefully send Ted Cruz riding off into it.

Alden Graves writes a regular column for the Banner.


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