The current crisis in Texas has forced climate change back into the spotlight after its neglect by the media amidst coronavirus. This has simultaneously exposed which US politicians are up to the task of working towards repairing the damage of the climate crisis, and which are not.
The U.S. has suffered nationwide winter storms, causing dozens of fatalities and hindering vaccine efforts. The center of disaster has been Texas, where the storm caused a power grid to become overwhelmed, leading to mass blackouts and damage to water supplies. In order to cope with the loss of energy, the organization which manages the majority of Texas’ power grid, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), cut power to millions of homes in rotation, enacting a rolling blackout and minimizing the amount of time that any one household would be without power.
One victim of the severe weather conditions and power outage was 11-year-old Cristian Pineda who was found unresponsive in a mobile home and is presumed to have died from hypothermia, pending autopsy results. Extreme weather, like that being currently experienced across the U.S., is only set to increase whilst leaders fail to make the necessary sacrifices to sufficiently fight climate change. Bernie Sanders acknowledged this, noting that Senators ask him “How can we afford to act on climate change?”, when the real question is: how can we afford not to?
Amidst the suffering of countless Texans, Texas Senator Ted Cruz abandoned his state for a trip to Cancun, Mexico. Although Cruz has since returned to Texas, as a result of the backlash rather than moral conscience, multiple state and federal leaders are calling for his resignation due to his astonishing lack of leadership. Extreme weather, such as the arctic conditions targeting Texas, is only likely to increase as climate change progresses and goes unmanaged. Consequently, leaders who are not capable of both recognizing their moral obligation towards their people and acting upon it in an era when challenges are only set to increase, have no place holding office. Quite simply, Ted Cruz, like many of his Republican colleagues, is not fit to be a Senator.
Whilst Cruz helped to further tarnish the Republican reputation which has been consistently eroded in its enabling of the Trump autocracy, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) has raised almost $5 million in less than 96 hours. The money raised is marked to go towards providing aid for Texans who are continuing to struggle with finding safe water, and to deal with the damage resulting from the extreme weather. Specifically, the funds will go to Family Eldercare, Feeding Texas, the Houston Food Bank, the Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, and Corazon Ministries, to name a few.
Raising $5 million is practically unheard of by most politicians, particularly when they are from the House, and fundraising for a state that is not their own. Whilst the prime importance of AOC’s incredible achievement is the relief that will be brought to Texans in need, this feat yet again distinguishes her as a powerhouse in the political sphere. It should therefore come as no surprise that rumours regarding a potential Presidential run in 2024 by AOC have begun to accumulate. Whilst it seems unlikely that AOC would rush into a Presidential bid by campaigning in 2024, it is certainly a ray of hope for the U.S. post-Trump that a woman of her character could potentially reach the white house by the end of the decade.