Ted Cruz recently told Fox News that mainstream media “is trying to bring disaster.” The two senators have just been appointed to a White House task force to open the economy, which makes me feel a little safer.
My favorite, however, is Ron Paul, the former congressman from Texas who published a very long column on the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity website on March 16 entitled “The Coronavirus Hoax” . There were simply not enough people with the disease to justify the foray into our civil liberties, he warned. It was about a week before her son, Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky, fell himself with the fake virus.
I will say in defense of my state that none of these people is stupid; these are not the stereotypical yahoos that so many non-Texans like to imagine living among us en masse. No. They represent the stubborn strain of anti-government independence, if applied in a timely manner, inherent in the Texan character, which is consistent with being a Trump toad.
Abbott’s loyalty to the president, as well as that of our senators, could mean that the Texans could become public health guinea pigs that would suffer if the state opened too soon.
What all of this behavior will mean in a slowly turning purple state is anyone’s guess. We are fortunate that, thanks to local localization orders and a comparative lack of density in our cities, the number of cases in Texas is “only” greater than 16,000, with more than 390 deaths. But we’re not at the top, experts tell us, and in the meantime, more than a million Texans have applied for unemployment. This is a number that will cause a lot of reluctance here, and perhaps a reflection on the real leadership that Republican leaders displayed during this horrible time.
It is not that leadership has not been displayed in other neighborhoods. Part of the slack was taken by the private sector, with restaurant and small business owners coming together to help their colleagues and do their best to replace a government that is M.I.A.
Large companies have also taken action, particularly HEB, a San Antonio-based grocery chain that has become a lifeline during the types of climate emergencies that have become the new norm here (see: Hurricane Harvey, 2017). As my colleagues Dan Solomon and Paula Forbes recently reported in Texas Monthly, HEB has had a pandemic and influenza plan since 2005, when it took note of the H5N1 threat. The chain put this plan into effect in 2009 when the H1N1 swine flu hit.