Creep of the Week: Texas Republicans

We hold these truths to be self-evident: climate change is real and Republicans are terrible.

Look no further than Texas, where, as I write this, millions of people are without power. No water, no heat in freezing temperatures. It is awful. People are hurting badly. And it should not be happening in the U.S., a very rich country.

But it doesn’t matter how much money you have if you don’t invest in things like energy grids that can withstand the cold.

What is happening in Texas right now is the logical conclusion of climate change and a state government run by right-wing Republicans who don’t believe in global warming or government. But the people in Texas are real people and they are hurting. So it’s important to remember not to be a shithead. To anyone reacting with glee to the news that the Republican stronghold of Texas is suffering right now, seriously, go f*ck yourself.

That is not to say we can’t blame the Republicans in Texas for this mess. We can and we should. And I hope that the people of Texas will hold these losers accountable.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has been shamed for trying to sneak away to a Cancún vacation during this crisis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blamed frozen wind turbines — a lie — mumbled about how it’s the Green New Deal’s fault, and basically shrugged.

Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been raising money for relief efforts in Texas. As this is published, she’s raised over $1 million. She doesn’t see suffering as a partisan issue. Meanwhile, Republicans choose not to see suffering at all.

Gov. Abbott has now finally declared that power companies must invest in the kind of weatherizing that has been a very apparent need for years. I guess but they couldn’t do it sooner because Texas Republicans have always found culture war bullshit to focus on instead.

For example, in Oct. 2020, Gov. Abbott had set his sights on state agencies scrapping nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Texans. Sounds important! Wouldn’t want the Texas social work licensing board to be treating LGBTQ+ people like full humans.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick makes Abbott seem like the grand marshal in a pride parade in comparison. He posted this little piece of scripture right after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Galatians 6:7.” Some called the tweet “ill-timed,” but I suspect he timed it just right.

In 2017 Patrick’s priority was an anti-trans bathroom bill that he said was needed to protect women’s privacy.

“If laws are passed by cities and counties and school districts allow men to go into a bathroom because of the way they feel, we will not be able to stop sexual predators from taking advantage of that law,” he said, apparently unaware that the majority of sexual predators are cisgender men who don’t even need to dress up like a lady to do their assaulting. They just move in the shadows of rape culture that put women in danger every minute of every day.

In 2015, Cruz was busy trying to stop marriage equality from becoming a reality nationwide. He introduced what the Human Rights Campaign called a “heinously anti-LGBT constitutional amendment” that sought to protect states that only allowed marriage between a man and a woman from getting sued. He also wanted to stop federal courts from hearing cases about marriage equality until he could get his bill passed.

The legislative agenda for 2021 also didn’t seem to have the looming energy catastrophe in mind. Thankfully, Republicans were focused on making sure transgender youth were blocked from gender-affirming health care and from playing school sports. They’re also working to block local ordinances that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination on the grounds that such ordinances go beyond what the state of Texas covers. Spoiler alert: the state of Texas does not protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination. And, of course, Republicans are pushing so-called “religious freedom” bills under the guise that Christians are being oppressed by not only having to exist with LGBTQ people but having to actually treat them like people.

Even for Texans who hate LGBTQ+ people, I suspect they hate the horror that is unfolding in the state right now more. At least for now. Once things are up and running again, LGBTQ+ people will once again be an acceptable focus for Texas Republicans.

Except that it isn’t acceptable. And it isn’t a focus. It’s a distraction. And people are paying the astronomical cost of failed leadership and failed governance of Republicans right now. They need to be held accountable before the next disaster.

D'Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living life with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter.