The video above was a segment from Chris Hayes' show yesterday with Beto O'Rourke. And you thought your governor was incompetent? "The energy capital of North America cannot provide enough energy to warm and power people's homes. We are nearing a failed state in Texas. And it has nothing to do with God or natural disasters. It has everything to do with those in positions of public trust who have failed us." Texas' Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov Dan Patrick are both hard core right-wing ideologues. The 31-seat Texas state Senate has 18 Republicans and 13 Democrats and the 150 member state House has 82 Republicans, 67 Democrats (and 1 vacancy). It may be gradually changing in a more purple direction, but all state decisions made in Texas are made from a position of far right ideological purity and... well, Texans are getting a taste of that now, when competent governance is so sorely needed. "Folks have gone days now without electricity or water at their homes... Folks are very desperate; they're suffering. And as you know, far too many have died already. So much of this was avoidable," said O'Rourke. "Going back to the deregulation of our electric grid here in Texas, which has actually created an incentive to not weatherize or protect against these events so that some of your plants can be shut down and you can profit from the spiking profits for energy and electricity."
Beto was just getting started on his critique of the Governor's shocking unfitness. "And then you have the cascading consequences of these stupid culture battles that are led by the GOP and our governor, Greg Abbott, who's focusing on making Texas a sanctuary state for the NRA; or they're arguing with the Mavericks about playing the "Star Spangled Banner" at the beginning of their games or bathroom bills or other kinds of stupidity while we have very real emergencies, like a pandemic that has killed more than 40,000 of our fellow Texans, a botched rollout of the vaccine where folks don't know how to get on the list, this recession that has put millions out of work and now this!... It has nothing to do with God or natural disasters; it has everything to do with the leadership and those in positions of public trust who have failed us."
When Abbott gave his state of these state speech, he didn't even mention COVID or the need to protect our fellow Texans against natural disasters like these... Climate change and changing in the frequency and severity of natural disasters, from Hurricane Harvey to this cold blast right now to future weather disasters... We know this stuff is coming. What we don't know is whether our leaders are prepared to make the tough political decisions to prepare us for that."
BOOM! So let's look at blue state governance instead-- like in New York and California, the political mirror images on Texas. Yesterday, Norman Solomon thundered that Cuomo (NY) and Newsom (CA) symbolize the rot of corporate Democrats. "The governors of New York and California," he wrote, "now symbolize how slick liberal images are no substitute for genuinely progressive priorities. After 10 years as New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo is facing an uproar over revelations that his administration intentionally and drastically undercounted the deaths from COVID in nursing homes. Meanwhile, in California, the once-bright political glow of Gavin Newsom has dimmed, in large part because of personally hypocritical elitism and a zig-zag 'middle ground' approach to public-health safeguards during the pandemic, unduly deferring to business interests. The political circumstances differ: Cuomo has been in conflict with New York progressives for many years over key policy matters, whereas Newsom was somewhat of a golden boy for Golden State progressives-- if they didn't look too closely at his corporate-friendly policies. But some underlying patterns are similar. Both Cuomo and Newsom know how to talk progressive, but they're corporate Democrats to the core. On many issues in the state legislature, Cuomo has ended up aligning himself with Republican lawmakers to thwart progressive initiatives. In California, where a right-wing petition drive is likely to force Newsom into a recall election, the governor's moderate record is hardly cause for the state's huge number of left-leaning voters to be enthusiastic about him."
Newsom is second to none in sounding the alarm about climate change and the need to move away from fossil fuels. But Newsweek reports that during his first two years as governor, Newsom's administration "approved more than 8,000 oil and gas permits on state lands." He continues to issue many fracking permits. (As the Wall Street Journal noted days ago, fracking is now "the source of most oil and gas produced in the U.S.")
Gov. Newsom's immediate predecessor, Jerry Brown, became fond of crowing that he governed the way a person would steer a canoe, paddling sometimes on the left and sometimes on the right. The metaphor did not answer the question of where the boat was headed.
It may be relevant that Cuomo and Newsom grew up in the nurturing shadow of extraordinary privilege, making them ill-positioned to see much beyond the comfortable bubbles surrounding them.
Andrew Cuomo's father Mario was New York's governor for three terms. At age 35, the younger Cuomo was appointed to be assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development by President Clinton, who promoted him to HUD secretary four years later. Such powerful backers propelled him toward the governor's mansion in Albany.
From the outset, Newsom has been enmeshed with power. As longtime California journalist Dan Walters recently pointed out, "Gov. Gavin Newsom wasn't born to wealth and privilege but as a youngster he was enveloped in it as the surrogate son of billionaire Gordon Getty. Later, Getty's personal trust fund-- managed by Newsom's father-- provided initial financing for business ventures that made Newsom wealthy enough to segue into a political career as a protйgй of San Francisco's fabled political mastermind, Willie Brown."
It's possible to transcend such pampered upbringings-- Franklin Delano Roosevelt certainly did-- but failures to show credible concern for the working class and serve their interests have put both Cuomo and Newsom in today's political pickles.
Like all politicians, Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom are expendable as far as the corporate system is concerned. If their individual brands lose appeal, plenty of other corporate-power servants are eagerly available.
When elected officials like Cuomo and Newsom fade, the solution is not to find like-minded replacements with unsullied images. The problem isn't the brand, it's the quality of the political product.
But it doesn't have to be this way. And some trends are encouraging.
Genuine progressive populism-- insisting that government should strive to meet widespread social needs rather than serve the special interests of the wealthy and corporate elites-- is threatening to disrupt the complacency of mainline Democratic leaders who have long coasted on merely being better than Republicans.
More than ever, many entrenched Democrats are worried about primary challenges from the left. Such fears are all to the good. Progressive activism and shifts in public opinion have strengthened movements that are recruiting, supporting and sometimes electing candidates who offer far better alternatives.
And back to Republican governance in Texas for a moment. Yesterday, the Dallas Morning News reported that Tim Boyd, the mayor of Colorado City in west Texas resigned, having posted a "typo-ridden post Tuesday morning, writing that 'no one owes you are your family anything; nor is it the local government’s responsibility to support you during trying times like this! … The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING!' Boyd continued at length, saying that he was 'sick and tired' of people looking for handouts and that the current situation is 'sadly a product of a socialist government. Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish,' he wrote." The Democraps are lucky to have this kind of garbage as opponents-- although in Texas, this is the kind of garbage they tend to elect.