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Apocalypse Texas: Why the US is no longer able to solve its emergencies

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Kamal Saini
Kamal S. has been Journalist and Writer for Business, Hardware and Gadgets at Revyuh.com since 2018. He deals with B2b, Funding, Blockchain, Law, IT security, privacy, surveillance, digital self-defense and network policy. As part of his studies of political science, sociology and law, he researched the impact of technology on human coexistence. Email: kamal (at) revyuh (dot) com

The collapse of Texas energy infrastructure due to the Arctic cold snap has once again highlighted the factionalism that plagues Americans.

The United States has always had an image of a determined and energetic country. The immeasurable diversity of population and geography, the youth of its institutions, and the still pulsating culture of the border would engender a type of self-sufficient society, ready to roll up its sleeves to solve all kinds of emergencies. Like the volunteers who fight the fire in California or the rapid evacuation operations that hurricanes demand each year, authorities and people seem to come together, in times of danger, to seek the common good.

Or at least that was the impression you had a few years ago. The collapse of Texas’s energy infrastructure due to the Arctic cold snap has once again highlighted the factionalism that afflicts Americans, with an immediate crossroads of recriminations and excuses and a spiral of noise that still deafens the ears of Texans. A population that has seen the material foundations of its existence evaporating overnight.

“We have seen, in the supermarkets, the shelves of the meat totally empty, they had no water and they closed at six because there was nothing to offer”, says by phone Alejandro Ibáñez, international debate coach, member of the Baker Institute and resident in Houston. 

His case wasn’t one of the worst. The pipes in a friends’ house burst and left them uninhabitable. They had to go to a hotel. Not to mention the elderly or most disadvantaged who were left at the mercy of freezing temperatures and lack of running water. On Friday there were still about 12 million Texas without access to safe drinking water.

But the gravity of the situation, which has left dozens dead, does not seem to have awakened those public service instincts. While hundreds of thousands of neighbors were freezing in their homes, the lights in downtown Houston, as the local press reports, remained on Sunday and Monday. Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner lashed out at governor, Republican Greg Abbott. And Abbott, in turn, found a way to blame the Socialist Democrats.

Abbott appeared to condemn wind energy for what happened, adding that it “demonstrated how the Green New Deal would be deadly for the United States of America.” The response from the opposition, the media, and experts was thunderous, and Abbott was forced to clarify that the failure had occurred in all power sources. Of the 45,000 megawatts that fell, according to officials consulted by USA Today, only a third came from clean energy.

At the same time, the brave scourge of hypocritical progressives, Senator Ted Cruz, who last year lashed out at the mayor of Austin for going on vacation amid the pandemic and accused California of being unable to “perform basic functions of civilization, like having a reliable electricity ”, he was caught going on vacation to Cancun. The political outlook was so devastating that Cruz returned the day after setting foot on the beach.

Its constituents, moderators of the “Energy Capital of the World,” Houston’s title for its oil industry, had descended into a dark age thanks to the arctic winds. The problems of the southern state stem from the fact that it has its own electricity grid, which makes it difficult to coordinate with the two large networks that supply the east and west of the country; that it is not prepared for the freezing temperatures and many power plants were not operational, because the winters here are hot and energy demand is hardly expected. These are technical problems that require technical solutions. But what about politics?

“Texas’ energy failure is the latest in a series of disasters that are going to be harder to fix (or prevent) from happening because Americans are retreating to partisan and cultural corners rather than trying to solve problems,” David Nather and Scott Rosenberg write in Axios. “From covid to electoral debacle and the collapse of the Texas power grid, the United States no longer demonstrates to the rest of the world how to conquer its greatest challenges.”

The background of energy management or the response to the coronavirus has the common denominator of the political division: toxicity that invites leaders to prioritize, rather than mere management, and antagonistic narrative that allows them to ensure electoral support first of all. The territory of common solutions, that gray area where deals could be made, has disappeared, and the undecided voter is an endangered species. For example, according to a Gallup poll conducted within days of Joe Biden’s inauguration, 98% of Democrats approved of his administration, compared to just 11% of Republicans. Extreme figures of a landscape where there is almost no doubt.

The fight against the pandemic in 2020 reflected this dynamic very well, with the Democratic and Republican states following totally different policies in the face of the virus, without paying any political price for it. As if it were two countries, two cultures, coexisting between the same borders. The challenge was the same for everyone but no solution.

The fight against the pandemic in 2020 reflected this dynamic very well, with the Democratic and Republican states following totally different policies in the face of the virus, without paying any political price for it.

With the fall of water and electricity and the 254 counties in the state on alert, many Texas attended the crossroads of accusations between politicians. But now, it seems, everyone has taken refuge again in their ideological parish.

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