By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Hot news items happened last week: the uproar from Sen. Ted Cruz’s trip to Cancun and the decline of the U.S. life expectancy. While two losers are evident, an unexpected winner has emerged…
First, the senator. In case you haven’t heard, the winter storms in Texas left more than 14 million people without water and power, and consequently 60 people died due to the freezing cold.
A Republican, Cruz explained in a statement that he flew to Cancun, Mexico with his family because his two daughters had asked to go on a trip with friends, given that school was canceled for the week, according to the Associated Press.
“Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,” Cruz wrote. The repercussions from his constituency, both Democrats and Republicans, prompted Cruz to say later that “it was a mistake” to go on the trip.
Cruz is wrong again. He claimed he’s a good father. No, he isn’t. By using his daughters as an excuse for the trip, he put the burden on his daughters, and from now on, the daughters would get the blame for their father’s decisions.
Why the backlash? As one of the least favorite senators, his hypocrisy was revealed as he often attacked other politicians for hypocrisy.
Earlier, he tweeted that Texans should stay home. He and his family were staying at the Ritz Carlton in Cancun, a pricey resort. His wife had texted their circle to join them in Cancun since the hotel offered a discount rate at $200 a night, according to the New York Times.
Cruz, one of the leaders who claimed the November election was fraudulent, voted against certification of Arizona and Pennsylvania, siding with the former president, Donald Trump. Later, he voted to acquit Trump in the second Senate impeachment trial. Cruz has his own presidential ambitions. He ran for president in 2016 and lost the Republican nomination to Trump. He thought that his support for Trump would enable him to win over supporters leftover from Trump.
It doesn’t work that way. Voters can’t be traded like stocks.
Meanwhile, another big news story surfaced last week: the average U.S. life expectancy has shortened by one year. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics showed a reversal of incremental gains over the past few years. Life expectancy at birth for the total U.S. population declined from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.8 years for January through June 2020. The numbers were even worse for Blacks and Latinos. The coronavirus pandemic has killed over 500,000 people in the U.S. so far, a shocking number and the country with most COVID deaths. How and why does the U.S. get to this point? It is hard to fathom that the U.S., a global power with first-class technology and scientific knowledge, possesses the worst record in controlling the virus.
“How are the two topics related?” you ask. The U.S. has a public health crisis. Every elected official has a responsibility to work together to end the pandemic. Yet, some officials are still not enforcing the rule of social distancing or wearing masks. Even Trump resists wearing masks.
In contrast, President Joe Biden has received a 50% approval rating, and his handling of the pandemic has a 62% approval rate (buying enough vaccines for America and improving plans to speed up vaccination, etc.). The pandemic is beyond one leader’s vision or action. It shouldn’t just be Biden’s responsibility. Every elected official has an obligation to end COVID. I doubt we would have 500,000 deaths if all the public officials had done their part, and put their hearts and minds together to get rid of the virus.
The real opportunity for Cruz to prove himself is to figure out solutions for those crises, fixing the Texas crisis and the pandemic.
Cruz probably thinks it’s the state’s problem, not his. That’s exactly what’s wrong in this country…people passing the buck. Like many politicians who love to talk but take no action, he is never willing to do the real work. Sadly, there are many Ted Cruzs in this country. Why do people elect leaders like Cruz? I don’t get it.
However, Cruz’s failure gave an opportunity to an unexpected and least-likely elected official to help Texans—New York Congress member Alexandria Octavio-Cortez. She shamed Cruz by going to Texas, joining other Congress members, and raising $4 million to support relief work, such as food banks. She tweeted, “Sylvia Garcia, Sheila Jackson Lee & Al Green of Houston are doing incredible work w/ local relief organizations to get emergency relief to Texans.”
I am not a fan of Octavio-Cortez’s politics. But her recent actions have changed my mind. “Wow, good work!” I never expected myself to say this. She raised money for a red state! What has Cruz done? Nothing for Texas, other than posting a photo of himself moving water in an effort for redemption. Is that all Cruz could do for millions of Texans whose lives and homes have been destroyed by the severe storms?
Whenever he raised money, he would raise it for himself, not to mention that he would ever do it for a blue state. Perhaps Octavio-Cortez has set an example for other public officials to follow.
At 50, Cruz is 19 years older than Octavio-Cortez. Yet, she has more compassion and brains. Elected officials are public servants. They have to set examples to serve even when they are not required to do so. But if they do, it will warm hearts and influence others to do good without asking for rewards. If all the elected officials are able to do that—from the city level to state to federal—it will unite this country.
There should be more cooperation between the blue and red states.
As Biden said in his victory speech, “I don’t see red states or blue states. But only the United States.” But how many Republicans would be willing to cross the aisle and help other states!?
Republicans, please prove me wrong.
Because both are about life.
Assunta can be reached at email@example.com.