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Zirpoli: Political parties have different constituents, as evidenced in Texas | COMMENTARY

They say that Democrats are the pro-government party and Republicans are the anti-government party. Not true. Republicans like to govern, too. Who benefits from their governing, however, is very different. This is on full display in Texas during their energy and water crisis.

There are three electrical grids in the United States. The Western grid, the Eastern grid, and the Texas grid. In Texas, the power companies don’t want to deal with the regulations of the Western and Eastern grids, so they decided to go it alone. Texas state politicians, mostly Republicans, were fine with that decision. As a result, when their state has cold weather and the power companies can’t keep up, they had no backup. Other states can draw power from the larger system.

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This isn’t the first time cold weather overwhelmed the electrical grid in Texas. After a similar problem in 2011, Republican politicians still didn’t require the power companies to weatherize their equipment, as recommended. Ten years later, the people of Texas are paying for their incompetence, again. And those that do have power, are getting bills in the thousands.

Greg Abbott, governor of Texas, went on Fox News to blame the Green New Deal for the crisis. There is no Green New Deal, certainly not in Texas. He blamed the state’s wind turbines because some of them froze. But wind turbines, if weatherized, work fine in colder places like Canada and Antarctica. When the power companies failed to weatherize their equipment after the 2011 crisis, Republicans turned a blind eye.

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So you see, Republicans in Texas do govern. However, their goals are different. They take care of their rich and powerful friends running the power companies. The folks who donate to their campaigns and keep them in power. And while Sen. Ted Cruz was flying to Mexico to get out of the cold, his Democratic challenger from 2018, Beto O’Rourke, was setting up phone banks and organized people to go door to door to check on folks. Another Democrat, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York, who Republicans love to hate, raised over $4 million to support food banks and other services for the people of Texas. Then she traveled to Texas to volunteer.

Those making excuses for Cruz said that, as a senator, he was powerless to do anything to help his constituents. Really?  Did he volunteer at a food bank?  Did he raise money to help his citizens? Did he set up phone banks to check on people? No. He deserted his constituents and escaped to Mexico. Then, he tried to put the blame on his 10- and 12-year daughters.

Republican leaders in Texas can blame themselves for not requiring their power plants to weatherize their equipment and for not joining the rest of the country’s power grid to ensure that their citizens would have backup power in emergencies.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry stated that Texans would rather be cold than be forced to regulate their power grid with the rest of the nation. Perry might want to ask the people of Texas about that. Note how Perry makes it seem like he is standing up for the people of Texas when, in fact, he is trying to protect the power companies who don’t want to be regulated and held accountable.

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“This disaster … is the fruit of policy, of specific choices made by lawmakers in Texas. And it’s this fact that helps explain the response to the crisis of Abbott and the Texas Republican Party, which has governed the state as a laboratory for conservative ideas for much of the last 20 years. When you don’t want to face the consequences of your actions as a lawmaker — when you’d rather demonize scapegoats than give answers — you fight a culture war,” writes Jamelle Bouie of The New York Times.

Insurance companies estimate that it will cost billions of dollars to repair homes and streets damaged by frozen pipes and broken water lines. Abbott was quick to declare a state of emergency and ask for federal assistance. Funny how some Republican governors don’t want federal interference but always run to the federal government to bail them out. Now, the rest of us, through our taxes and higher insurance premiums, will have to pay for their poor decisions. Socialism, anyone?

I hope the bill for damages goes directly to the Texas power companies who didn’t want to spend the money to weatherize their equipment. Regarding the politicians who allowed this to happen? The voters will need to take care of them.

Tom Zirpoli is the program coordinator of the Human Service Management program at McDaniel College.  He writes from Westminster. His column appears on Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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