The Lone Star State is currently suffering through a blizzard the likes of which hasn’t been experienced there in several generations. But amidst the crisis, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took a short vacation to Mexico.
“Amazing how the Green New Deal forced Ted Cruz to go to Cancun,” mused The Nation columnist Jeet Heer.
More than 30 people have died due to the extreme cold and lack of functioning infrastructure—the power grid simply is not working in a way that serves the public’s interest because it largely relies upon natural gas, which is currently frozen solid and stuck in the pipelines, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R). But the power grid is working exactly how the market for energy was developed.
“It’s not convenient,” Harvard Kennedy School Professor William W. Hogan, the architect of Texas energy policy recently told the New York Times. “It’s not nice. It’s necessary.”
But market-based mythology and bromides are probably the last thing on lawmakers’ minds as scores of people are on track to die, as exotic sanctuary animals freeze to death, and people reportedly walk up to their local 7-Eleven to find dead bodies frozen on the ground.
The state has limited ability to triage this slow-rolling disaster by obtaining extra power from the rest of country because the majority of the Texas power grid—aside from El Paso, parts of the Panhandle and East Texas—is specifically a band apart in order to stave off oversight from the federal government. And, according to the Texas Tribune, the worst of the disaster could have been prevented if leaders had paid attention to warnings about climate change and the threat of winter storms. Instead, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) left the decision up to the energy companies—who decided the cost-effective way forward was to opt out of necessary upgrades. In short, a victory for so-called “deregulation.”
Enter: Sen. Cruz, a fierce opponent of highly-regulated energy markets and a climate change denialist who has made his opposition to climate change-focused legislation, the Green New Deal specifically, part of his personal political brand.
And now, it’s come back upon him in chilling fashion, right along with the winter storm that’s killing his fellow Texans en masse.
In 2019, California’s energy grid suffered rolling blackouts in 30 of the Golden State’s 58 counties due to a massive heat wave. At the time, Cruz—along with Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R), Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R)—repeatedly dinged the Democrat-dominated state for their woes.
“California is now unable to perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity,” Cruz mocked from behind his keyboard. “Biden/Harris/AOC want to make CA’s failed energy policy the standard nationwide. Hope you don’t like air conditioning!”
That tweet quickly resurfaced on Tuesday as all 254 Texas counties went on winter storm warnings. Bodies piled up. Pipes burst. And from the Rio Grande Valley to the Hill Country to the Gulf coast and to Fort Worth and beyond, blackouts rolled and rolled and rolled. Millions are still without power and are being told to boil water.
“I got no defense.🤷🏻♂️,” Cruz tweeted in response to the online criticism. “A blizzard strikes Texas & our state shuts down. Not good. Stay safe!”
But while he didn’t have a defense, he did have plane tickets out of the country.
Late Wednesday, Cruz and his family were spotted boarding a flight to Cancun, Mexico—where it’s currently sunny and in the mid-80s.
Constituents and long-standing critics immediately dug in, many of them tweeting “#FlyingTed” and causing it to trend:
Our wonderful Senator, Ted Cruz, headed to Cancun while the rest of us suffer in Texas. pic.twitter.com/0fftB3Ok5S
— Studd Muffins (@studdmuffi) February 18, 2021
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) February 18, 2021
— Molly Jong-Fast🏡 (@MollyJongFast) February 18, 2021
Ted Cruz is surely going to eat a lot of shit for flying to Cancun while his constituents freeze to death in their homes but let’s have some perspective: Every lawmaker in Congress is on vacation this week
— Andrew Perez (@andrewperezdc) February 18, 2021
Just found out Ted Cruz was spotted flying to Cancun w/ his family. I’m still processing the loss of my friend’s beautiful 3 children & their grandma who died in a house fire Tuesday morning because they were trying to stay warm
— Jennifer Chang (@jenzchang) February 18, 2021
After the flurry of Twitter criticism, the Associated Press confirmed Cruz’s trip and got word that Texas’s junior senator was set to “return immediately.”
Here’s the upgrade list for this afternoon’s flight from Cancun to Houston.
That’s assuming that “cru, r” is him. And I do. pic.twitter.com/CqfKa5rJfG
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) February 18, 2021
The quick trip was immediately viewed as evidence that Cruz was keen to the barrage of scorn he was receiving for the decision to leave the country as his home state froze.
Confirmation both that it was Ted Cruz and that he realizes that it was a serious kerfuffle https://t.co/v7Esdcndog
— Michael Li 李之樸 (@mcpli) February 18, 2021
“He went with his family for a long-planned trip to Cancun and was expected to return immediately.”
Ok but was he always “expected to return immediately” or was that because of the backlash? https://t.co/N2kDVkzxDm
— Jan Wolfe (@JanNWolfe) February 18, 2021
And it gets worse.
[image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
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