No, Texas Doesn't 'Deserve' This

Twitter dunking is a regular part of online political discourse. If there’s ever an opportunity to make the opposition look bad, particularly with snark and sarcasm, you take it. People use Twitter dunking to settle political scores with politicians they don’t like, policies they think are dumb, or parties they deem evil. But it’s rare to see people try dunking on an entire state.

Texas is currently in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime cold front that has left millions in the state without power and heat in their homes. Like most Southern states, Texas has very little infrastructure to deal with the slightest dusting of snow and even relatively cold temperatures, let alone the sub-freezing hellscape their state has become. But unlike every other state, Texas has its own power grid separate from the federal government which, predictably, failed during the storm. Now, millions of people are suffering due to failed policies and deregulation that span back decades. Dunking on people literally fighting to keep warm and survive during a massive climate event doesn’t seem fair or particularly tasteful. But that didn’t stop famed author Stephen King from letting it rip.

King and other liberals too the opportunity to clown Texans for, essentially, voting Republican. It’s the kind of take that’s as ugly as it is stupid, since it only makes sense if you remove all context—Texas is a red state that voted Trump in 2016 and 2020, so therefore all its citizens should suffer for Republican incompetence and policy failure. Never mind that the state is home to more than 5.2 million people who voted for Joe Biden and thousands more who didn’t or couldn’t vote due to the state’s centuries-old voter suppression efforts. Never mind the thousands of disenfranchised citizens or the millions of poor people and communities of color who will be disproportionately affected by the mass failure of the state’s privatized power grid.

Geography doesn’t dictate morality or intent. Still, King’s tweet is far from an anomaly. That brand of red state reductionism is common among liberals who see voting colors as the bottom line. It doesn’t really matter who you voted for—if your state went red, you’re dumb and worthy of scorn and deserve to suffer at the hands of blundering greedy politicians and energy oligarchs looking to fucking people over at every turn. Reducing a red state based on its politician also tacitly implies that blue states are well-run utopias, a notion dispelled by a single Google search about Andrew Cuomo’s abysmal (yet weirdly praised) COVID-19 response in New York.

None of this is to say that what’s happening in Texas isn’t a colossal failure created by generations of garbage policy overseen by Republican lawmakers more interested in kowtowing to corporate interest than helping their constituents. It absolutely is. This is the kind of monumental failure that deserves to be remembered for generations as a clear example of what exactly deregulation gets you. Meanwhile, right wing media is trying desperately to manufacture consent that green energy policies are the reason for Texas’ massive blackouts, not deregulation that bolsters the oil and natural gas industries. It’s a level of outright lying that can truly drive you nuts if you see too much—it hardly seems possible that people in charge of a state could be so detached from the reality of own foundering ineptitude and committed to shilling bullshit.

For hacks like Abbott (and Sean Hannity), culture war takes precedent over actually helping people or taking any kind of responsibility. But not every Texan voted for him—and even if they had, they deserve better than being literally left out in the cold to freeze.