Texas’ power infrastructure collapsed in the face of a winter storm, leaving many Texans in the frigid darkness. Ted Cruz infamously fled Texas in search of warmer climes, thus ensuring his ongoing success as an ideal Republican politician. You might expect that Texans would respond to this disaster by addressing the underlying problems that made it possible. You might, that is, if you did not understand the Republicans of Texas.
During the crisis, the leadership of the state engaged in what seems to be a standard Republican response to a real crisis: they lied about it and put the blame on others. For example, one dishonest talking point was that renewable energy sources were the primary causes of the blackout. This untruth was advanced by Greg Abbott, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and Dan Crenshaw. While the failure was complicated, one can look at the facts. First, while renewable energy is part of Texas’ energy infrastructure, it is not the dominate source of energy in the state. Second, even in the case of renewable energy, the problem was not that the energy sources are renewable. The problem was that they were not properly winterized. After all, wind turbines are reliably used in Alaska. Lying has been working very well for the GOP. They know that their base does not care about the truth, is in on the lie, or is unwilling to critically assess their claims. They also know that the truth would hurt them with their base and would not help them with Democrats; so lying is a win and the truth is a loss. Fast forwarding to today, they are still pushing the same lies they told about the Texas blackout. They, after all, have no good reason to tell the truth—other than to solve the problem that will no doubt once again plunge Texas into icy darkness.
While Texas lawmakers are taking some action, it seems that they are not doing enough to address the problems. This also seems to be a general Republican strategy: do little or nothing to address real problems. Given that the blackout was a disaster for many Texans, there is the question of why the leaders are not doing enough to address the problem.
One reason might be that they forgot that they mixed the Kool Aid. That is, they now believe their own narrative about the situation and hence are not taking action to address the real problem.
A second reason could be ideological: Republicans profess to be anti-regulation (except when they are regulating things they dislike), small-government (except for expanding the parts they like), pro-free market (except when they do not like the results of the free market), and pro-business (except when businesses are doing things they dislike). A small-government, pro-business, anti-regulation, and pro-free market approach would be to the situation would be to do little or nothing (except, perhaps, offer tax cuts for and government handouts to businesses). As such, they are acting in accord with their professed ideology. Staying the course will mean that they will sail into another iceberg in the future; but then they can simply lie about it again.
A third reason is that while some businesses did lose money during the disaster ((for example, Vistra is estimated to have lost around $1 billion), many companies profited from the situation. Macquarie Group made at least an extra $213 million from the blackout. CFO Roland Burns, of Comstock Resources, provided a clear explanation of how his company did so well in what would seem to be a disaster: he said, “we were able to get super premium prices.” The company was able to get such a great payoff from the disaster that inflicted great suffering that Burns said that the devastation was “like hitting the jackpot.” He did have to apologize for that, since gleefully profiting off large-scale human suffering presents rather bad optics.
While companies that lost money during the disaster do have a financial incentive to act, the companies that profited would presumably benefit once more should the situation occur again. As such, they have a financial incentive to maintain the status quo. When an unprepared Texas is plunged into darkness once more, they will hit the jackpot again. This also exemplifies a key Republican value: prioritizing the short-term profits of the rich over the basic well-being of millions of citizens. But this has been working very well for them in Texas and hence they have little reason to act; aside from whatever concern they might have for the citizens of Texas. Which they clearly lack.