Budowsky: Cruz goes to Cancun, AOC goes to Texas
As Texans were enduring unendurable pain during one of the worst disasters in state history, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took the opportunity to journey to the sun of Cancun, while Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) expressed solidarity with the people of Texas by raising $5 million to provide urgently needed relief — and visited the Lone Star State to support food banks she backs.
What is happening in Texas is an indictment of the kind of government that Republicans, led by Gov. Greg Abbott, have brought to Texas. The disastrous sojourn by Cruz to Cancun demonstrates the arrogance of power of certain public officials who are totally out of touch with their people. The important help given to Texans by leaders like former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke and AOC demonstrate that Democrats at their best stand for competent government and human decency.
Ten years ago Texans were clearly warned of the need to weatherize their systems, but Republican governors failed for a decade to take the statewide actions that would have prevented the pain, misery, hunger and death that followed.
And now there are persistent reports of Texans being price gouged by utilities on their electric bills and ripped off by thousands of dollars for a few days of desperately needed electricity at a life endangering moment.
The contrast was jarring between Cruz, who took his ill-fated trip to sunny Cancun, which he may someday have to explain in the snows of New Hampshire in a future Republican presidential primary, and who could well be defeated in a future reelection campaign by Beto O’Rourke or another strong candidate, and AOC, who tapped the goodness of her supporters to inspire a wave of small donors helping the people of Texas at the time of their greatest peril.
The generosity of spirit from Ocasio-Cortez to Texans, which literally helped feed the hungry and suffering citizens, was the kind of grand stand for decency that is the heart of the Democratic Party, the soul of the progressive movement, and the spirit of America at her best. The immediate reaction of Cruz, who headed to the sunshine of Cancun when danger struck his neighbors, was something else indeed.
The times are beginning to change for politics in Texas. From the moment that O’Rourke ran a spectacular campaign and almost defeated Cruz in 2018, it was clear that Texas is within reach of becoming a purple state and, very possibly, a blue state in the coming years with the right candidates and circumstances.
If Democrats run a strong candidate against Abbott in 2022, those midterms could become a major moment at all levels of government in Lone Star politics.
After New York was attacked on 9/11, Americans of all political persuasions came to the assistance of the city, and as we learned in Texas last week, when the going gets tough for others, New Yorkers such as AOC come to the aid of fellow Americans regardless of their state and politics.
In terms of New York politics, I should emphasize that while I hope to someday support AOC for higher office, I support Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a good progressive and Senate leader, for reelection.
What AOC did in supporting Texans was the kind of initiative of idealism, goodwill, and patriotism that is welcome in our divided nation. She did the right thing. She did it well. She improved the lives of every Texan she supported. She made a difference. She made things better at a hard and dangerous moment.
At the critical moment, the difference between what AOC did compared to what Cruz did was a testament to her character, generosity and spirit. AOC going to Texas was a high-minded model of public service and patriotic passion. Cruz going to Cancun was a tone-deaf model of what makes Texans, and many other Americans, roll their eyes about what is wrong with too many politicians today.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.
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