My heart goes out to the people of Texas and Louisiana in this time of trial, trauma and loss.
Now let's separate the people of Texas from the politics of Texas.
In elementary school we learned a song, "No Man Is An Island." Throughout history we've understood that, because we're social creatures, people need people. That's what society is. That's what civilization is. That's one of the things that separates man from most other animals. But apparently people in the world of Texas conservatism don't believe that...or they believe it only when it's most convenient. Most of us have been hearing about the tough, gritty independence of Texas for generations. There is no doubt that there are tough, gritty, resilient people in Texas. I know a few, and love them dearly. But there's a myth of which Texas - and some Texans - need to disabuse themselves.
There are very few things that it - Texas - can do on its own. Hurricane Harvey has proven that, and will continue to demonstrate that for months and years to come. For too long people have hard headedly pressed the idea of Texas secession and Texas independence. There have been people in Texas from the beginning of the Texas territory, to its entry to the Union as a state, and continuing to this very day who have believed that Texas should be its own nation. That's pretty ironic considering Texas couldn't free itself of Santa Ana without the help of the federal government of United States as well as volunteers from places like Tennessee, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. But today Texas can't save its industries from cataclysmic damage that will in turn pose environmental dangers to its citizens. Texas can't fund disaster recovery and rebuilding. Hell, Texas as a corporate governing entity can't even rescue and provide for its own people in their greatest moment of need.
So if Texas wants independence, the question is independence FROM WHAT?
In Hurricane Harvey's wake, help is arriving from all across the nation from able-bodied volunteers, charitable organizations, churches - you name it, no questions asked. Some generous business owners and corporations have pitched in. Millions of dollars have already been donated by generous people from across the country including sports professionals and entertainers. Yet many of those same individuals have been criticized and even condemned by Texas conservative politicians and rightwing evangelicals even as they simultaneously extend their hands to greedily accept that help. And the same republicans of the Texas delegation who did their best to stall and deny the Hurricane Sandy relief funding five years ago for New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania are shamelessly crying out for relief now, without exception, without offsets, and without delay. It's funny how now their crisis is more real, critical and urgent than anyone else's crisis.
If Texas was truly independent, Texas wouldn't need help. Thus the notion of "Texas independence" is a fraud. It's a lie.
In recent days I've read arguments stating that perhaps the federal government should simply not take Texas tax money and let them to it themselves. However, with each passing moment more and more credence is given to the notion that Texas generates no where near enough to cover the cost of this storm, let alone meet the rest of its ongoing obligations. It also doesn't possess the resources and in some areas the intellectual capacity to address their own self-created and self-inflicted problems, let alone navigate through those things that may be considered acts of God. Much of the damaged infrastructure including roads, bridges, ports, and so forth weren't even built by Texas but by the federal government. Until that infrastructure is made safe, recovery efforts, delivery of food and medicine and other vital materials will be hampered.
There has been talk of the critical need for recovery in order to stand up the oil and chemical industries in around Houston. Getting people back to work is a good thing, but it's a bit hard to expect the focus of recovery to be placed on bailing out companies when tens of thousands of people have no idea where they and their children will lay their heads, get their next meal, and before rescue turns into "recovery." And what good does any of it do when many of the people who work in those industries can't even get to work because basic infrastructure has been destroyed and many have lost their means of transportation? And we haven't even begun to discuss the poorest of the poor who are always the worst affected, the last to get help, and most often don't even have the means to evacuate during an emergency. So what are the oil and chemical industries doing to save the people of south Texas in this time of crisis instead of looking for the government to come to their aid? Things are anything but normal. So it's pretty outrageous that any expectations of placing the needs of corporations and the preservation of their profits before the survival if people. The conservative politicians of Texas believe in fairytales, but the people of Texas won't survive on fairytales.
Aside from the cost of recovery and rebuilding, shortages of basic services, and anger, wearing of nerves and fraying patience that tear the basic social fabric of civility on the heels of any disaster, there will be a health crisis on the horizon. Clean water resources will be scarce. Disease will radically increase. Some inaccessible areas will remain so for !months. People who already experienced food insecurity will fall into food crisis. But because the genius of their infinite wisdom, Texas refused to expand health care coverage and have allowed medical entities to close due to underfunding, the shortage of medical care will intensify. Thank God for doctors and nurses arriving from across the country to provide relief to the brave, dedicated, exhausted medical professionals of Texas.
The natural disaster caused by Harvey will expose the man-made disaster called conservative governance in Texas.
In some ways, Texas conservatism is like the randy, stubborn, know-it-all teenager with no real means, no knowledge, no understanding, no talent, no ability, who just happens to be one of the biggest kids in their class, who can't wait to be grown and for emancipated from their parents. But in the moment of crisis when they are required to act like a grownup, be free of parental guidance and to perfoirm on their own, they grudgingly yet sorrowfully call on their patents for rescue. You would think that Hurricane Harvey would then provide an opportunity for enlightenment, reflection and reconsideration of their positions, and induce some humility.
Based on the lying and hypocrisy currently on full display by Texas republicans, not a chance.
Nevertheless, Texas will rise again, not just because it's Texas, but because it's part of the United States of America. We will see to it. It's who we are. It's what we do. But the empty headed separatists, the self-destructive libertarian anarchists, the fear mongering social conservatives, the penny wise pound stupid fiscal conservatives, the hate promoting evangelicals, and the self-promoting, rightwing political opportunists (read Ted Cruz) need to get out of the way if they aren't going to help. The shamefulness and despicable behavior and attitudes of Texas rightwing politicians won't stop America from coming to the aid of our fellow Americans.
There are people to save and a state to rescue. There's no time for fiction and lies.