Updated: Mar 12
After a deep freeze that shut down the state of Texas, Governor Abbot asked President Biden for assistance from the federal government, which was granted immediately. Federal money and essential supplies were freed up and rushed to help Texans in need. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) kicked into action sending generators to keep critical facilities operating. There was no political litmus test involved in Biden’s response. The request was made, and the assistance was given because good government functions with the goal of serving its citizens, not showing political favoritism.
Yet, within hours after thanking President Biden for aid from the government, Governor Abbot, Rick Perry and others, went on Fox News to do damage control with their Trump Republican base. Decades ago, Texas set up the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), in order to avoid federal regulations and to save money on maintenance. This resulted in 2.7 million households losing their electricity due to the failure of their energy producing equipment. Republican leaders found themselves in the awkward position of reconciling their “Don’t Mess with Texas” image with the mess they had created. The deregulated, fossil fuel-based Texas energy system supported by small government Republicans had failed its citizens. Their response? Ted Cruz fled the country, and the governor went on cable news to blame the Democrats for the next crisis. But the question isn’t about big or small government, it’s about whether government works for the people, and in this instance, in the go-it-alone state government of Texas, it did not.
As Michiganders we understand about the harshness of winter on infrastructure and humanity, so we feel compassion for the people of Texas. They deserve more from their leaders than railing against wind turbines and consistently resorting to the anti-government fallback position. As a nation we’re hungry for government that invests in the resources to lift us up out of crisis- both personally and as a country. For example, the current national health and economic crisis caused by COVID is being tackled through the use of the Defense Production Act to facilitate COVID testing, and the government has purchased enough vaccine supply to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of July. And yes-FEMA has delivered generators, bottled water and essential supplies to Texans in their time of need. We don’t have to imagine a government that works as a force for good. We can see it happening in real time. A government by the people and for all the people, wherever they live.
Guest Blog by Sherri Masson
Sherri Masson is an activist and one of the leaders of Indivisible Huron Valley. Sherri has spent her adult life working and writing on behalf of gun violence prevention and public education and is currently active in promoting pro-democracy policy with SWIM (Statewide Indivisible Michigan).