This morning, Texas Senator Ted Cruz was caught at the airport with his family making his way to Cancun, Mexico, as the state of Texas currently sits frozen in the midst of a freak snowstorm. Millions of people are without power and water, pipes are bursting inside homes, and leaving to find shelter can be something of a dicey move for some.
Is it the best look for Cruz to be bailing in the midst of this? Not at all. A representative getting out of Dodge when the people he represents are suffering is going to cause resentment and endless waves of criticism both fair and absurd.
Before we all pass judgment, let’s take a look for a moment at what Cruz said in a recent statement according to The Hill about his departure and return:
Cruz said in a statement shared with The Hill that he accompanied his daughters on a flight to Mexico since they had the week off with school canceled.
“Wanting to be a good dad,” Cruz said, he decided to fly “with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.”
“This has been an infuriating week for Texans,” he said, adding “the greatest state in the greatest country in the world has been without power. We have food lines, gas lines, and people sleeping at the neighbors’ houses. Our homes are freezing and our lights are out.”
“Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power too,” he added.
“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” he continued. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.”
His family lost power and heat as well. He’s a father who doesn’t want to see his children freeze and, since he has the means, went with his family to Cancun to be in warmer climes where power, hot water, and food are still abundant. Not a soul on Earth who has any kind of common sense or a selfless bone in their body would condemn a man for taking his family where it’s comfortable and safe. The vacation was reportedly scheduled long ago as well, so a man taking his family to a place he had already planned on taking them isn’t something we should fault Cruz for.
But in the interest of not using that as an excuse for Cruz up and leaving his state when it’s in turmoil, let’s put that point down for a moment and focus on the aforementioned fact many are angry about. Let’s even say that Cruz is lying and he actually didn’t plan to up and return immediately after escorting his family to Cancun, only doing so because public pressure caused him to cave and return home.
The question now is what, exactly, do you expect Ted Cruz to do here?
Cruz doesn’t have the power to turn the lights back on with the power of legislation. He doesn’t have the power to fix broken gas lines or defrost the wind farms. Grocery stores won’t suddenly restock because Cruz told them to.
If we’re being honest, Cruz is about as powerless to fix the current issues as we are. Sure, he can help push legislation that would prevent this disaster from happening at this level ever again after the fact, but at this time, he’s at the mercy of everything else we are.
The real issue seems to revolve around how it looks. The optics of the situation aren’t remotely ideal. Cruz’s image would be better served if it was seen handing out soup to hungry people or working at one of the shelters where people are going for warmth. But then again, it would really just be for optics. The Cruz family would still be judged for going to Cancun even if Cruz did stay behind. That’s not to mention the fact that regardless of what Cruz did, it’d still likely not endear him to anyone on the left who is predisposed to hate him anyway.
In fact, they’d try to find a way to make this his fault, along with Governor Greg Abbott.
What’s more, the optics would require the presence of the press and the press isn’t exactly the friendliest towards Republicans. It’d turn into an opportunity to nail Cruz for something or get an excellent moment on camera where an angry Texas citizen curses out Cruz for the situation they’re in, not because he’s actually at fault, but because they’re angry and need someone to blame.
There’s also the matter that he bashed Austin Mayor Steve Adler for telling everyone to stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19 while he himself was in Cabo San Lucas.
Let’s be clear of the distinction between the two.
Adler was being hypocritical by telling everyone to stay home in order to halt the transmission of a virus while he himself was cavorting around in paradise. Cruz told everyone to stay home as a matter as well then was found to be making his way to a similar environment. The difference here is obvious. Adler wanted to enforce lockdown orders over a virus that he himself clearly didn’t care about obeying. Cruz was taking his family away from the problem, not potentially bringing it with him in some hypocritical move. Moreover, Cruz’s advisory clearly revolved around keeping cars off the road while conditions are unfamiliar to Texans, resulting in further harm. Cruz wasn’t trying to forbid travel but discourage unnecessary travel.
All that said, the underlying sentiment by many is understandable. Yes, Cruz is a man elected by the people and so he should be with his people when they’re in the thick of something awful, but in terms of what Cruz can do by staying here, the answer is “not much.” If the man wanted to take his family on a vacation that had already been planned where it’s warmer and safer, then he should.
What really bothers me, however, is the fact that while all the internets anger is directed at Cruz, hardly anyone is talking about 15,000 deaths that resulted from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s policies. The same media breathlessly attacking Cruz is the same media that seemed to find it hard to focus on Gavin Newsom when he was breaking his own COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. It’s also the same media that could hardly find the time to talk about Nancy Pelosi when she was doing the same.
The outrage seems to be selective, but I’m going to do some selecting myself, I’m not going to get too worked up over a guy taking his family somewhere warm while his home is freezing and without power.