The Case of the Vanishing Senator
In an age of diminishing governmental power and ceaseless ambition, what Ted Cruz did was reveal how our systems are malfunctioning
On any given day, Senator Ted Cruz is one of the most hated politicians on the face of the Earth. Trump sycophant and national embarassment Senator Lindsay Graham once joked, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was on the floor of the Senate, nobody would convict you,” but the events of the past few days have taken this well-known political fact and amplified it by several magnitudes.
By responding to a complete system collapse in his state of Texas by packing his swimtrunks and booking a trip to a luxury resort in Cancún, and then being discovered at the airport, lying about the purpose of his trip, before then, and this is truly repulsive, blaming his children for his lapse of judgment, Cruz has become possibly the most-hated and loathed man in American politics on this side of the Trump presidency.
It should be disqualifying, this lapse of judgment, to seek luxury and comfort in paradise while his constituents burn their possessions to try and stay warm, go without food and water and power, and watch their relatives die slow, agonizingly slow deaths as their oxygen runs out, but more than likely Cruz will be lampooned and used as an example by the Left of just how out of touch Republicans are before he fades into the background as another country takes his place in infamy.
But what should not be dismissed or forgotten anytime soon is that this incident is incredibly telling in terms of how our society and its political and economic system have reached this point of collapse.
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What has happened in Texas is a tragedy. Full stop.
That it is the result of years’ worth of corporate maneuvers and the intentional dismantling of government and shared society as a public good only makes it worse.
The so-called “Texas Miracle,” of which former governor Rick Perry hung his entire failed presidential campaign on, was an aggressive ploy to eradicate taxation as a means of improving peoples’ lives and providing even the basic necessities of civilized life in order to lure businesses from states like California. It was responsible for bringing businesses unconcerned with publuc good to the Lonestar State, but it created a line of dominoes that would collapse and lead to this senseless, awful moment.
To begin, the lack of investing in public good and public services created this situation. It wasn’t “wind turbines,” “the Green New Deal,” or any number of scapegoats that either don’t exist or haven’t actually contributed to the state of Texas falling apart in record time. It was the relentless pursuit of power and wealth by the Republican Party and the associated wealthy and elite who own them and control government from the state level to the federal level. It was the building climate catastrophe that now threatens every season and every person, from sea to shining sea. This is another stepping stone in a building collapse that involves Hurricane Katrina, countless floods and wildfires, and more tragedies than we have time to name.
But also, it is the result of decades of villification of government and shared society, a building rejection of basic human needs and the very process by which we are supposed to come together, resolve our differences, decide on courses of action, and somehow, someway make this reality better. That process has been co-opted by wealthy and powerful individuals and an amalgamation of corporations who have simultaneously divided us via divisive, paranoid appeals while buying and selling our politicians and democratic institutions at alarming rates.
The consequence is a country, supposedly the most powerful country in the world, that cannot respond to disasters or pandemics or even manage to get its citizens water, food, or shelter, because it has become a hollowed-out husk without agency, power, and, most importantly, without concern.
And, of course, that brings us to Ted Cruz.
What is most disturbing about Cruz’s behavior isn’t that he would abscond to Mexico with his well-off family and enjoy the good life as Texans freeze and starve to death. This is obvious. Over the past month Cruz has tried to overthrow the will of the people by questioning the presidential election while giving comfort and aid to insurrectionists who sought to carry out a coup on January 6th. His shamelessness is well-covered, from his support of Donald Trump after he called his wife ugly and claimed his father helped assassinate John Kennedy, to his continued sniveling obedience to the Republican orthodoxy, but this moment, this revealed, craven, repulsive moment only brings to the surface what we already know.
As senator, Cruz is supposed to be an agent of change and support for Texas. The way our system is supposed to work is that, by reaching the level of senator, Cruz is supposed to be one of the main cogs by which his constituents can communicate their needs to the federal government and by which the localities can revolve. That, as I’m sure you are thinking at this moment, is an especially outdated, antiquated mode of thinking, but I ask you: why is it outdated and antiquated?
Because the role of senator, not to mention representative and even president at this point, has been relegated to a ceremonial position, a platform for seeking attention, power, and profit, not of actually realizing change or representation of the people. Cruz is not senator to help people, he’s senator to build his brand and find exposure. From the moment he won office, Cruz has used his position to build toward a run for the presidency or even a stint on the Supreme Court. To stay in Texas, use his contacts, and advocate for his constituents is just…not what Cruz is interested in.
His role as senator from Texas is an indictment of a system that has been corrupted and malfunctioning for way, way too long. It was obvious last night, after Cruz made his walk of shame back to his home, in that he found the nearest TV cameras, blamed his children and family, then returned to his living room for an extended appearance on Hannity on Fox News. It was a symbolic return and his inability, no, unwillingness to marshall resources for Texans isn’t abnormal, it’s the norm for this moment.
When we look at Cruz in disgust and see him as a shuffling pariah, what we see is the literal embodiment of a system that has been corrupted and repositioned away from the pursuit of the public good and a festering, poisonous infection. What we thought was supposed to be our government, our means of exacting change and providing for the good of human beings, has become a platform for personal advancement, personal enrichment, and personal empowerment.
What Ted Cruz did wrong was to act authentically.
What Ted Cruz did wrong was behave according to his principles and reveal the lie that anyone like Ted Cruz is operating in the pursuit of anything besides the interests of Ted Cruz.