Texans are notorious for their suspicion of the federal government. From the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy to the constant Republican whining about “big government” and President Obama’s secret plans to take everybody’s guns away, it’s no surprise that studies show that 57% of Texans have an unfavorable view of the federal government. Perhaps that’s why Governor Abbott failed to mention the President’s phone call offering FEMA’s support during the his press conference on Tuesday. FEMA is already on the ground, working with state officials to coordinate the response and recovery efforts, and victims left homeless are clamoring for Governor Abbot and Texas Republicans to accept federal disaster assistance from President Obama and FEMA.
1,200 Texas residents have had their homes washed away by the raging floods, and are in desperate need of temporary housing- and the situation isn’t going to improve any time soon. “We’re very vulnerable right now,” said County Commissioner Will Conley of Hays County in Central Texas. “We are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. … If we were to receive a small amount of rain, we could be right back into an emergency situation.”
As flood warnings sound once again over Houston, just days after the first storms ravaged the city and surrounding counties, Texans are placed in an uncomfortable position. Senator Ted Cruz, the Tea Party fanatic who shut down the government over the budget and voted against Hurricane Sandy relief money because it was “wasteful”, has suddenly found himself calling for the federal government to “fulfill its statutory obligations” and provide disaster relief assistance.
In theme that recurs among Republicans states across the Midwest, the incredible irony is that for all the complaints about federal interference and the overreach of “big government”, Texas is the number one recipient of federal disaster funds. Forty-six Texas counties are currently under a state of emergency. During the 2011-2012 years, Texas received over give billion dollars in federal relief money- effectively subsidizing their climate change denial and refusal to prepare for a rapidly changing world.
President Obama has already made it clear that he will do everything in his power to help the people of Texas get through this tragedy. As the death toll rises and flood waters growing, they will need all the assistance they can get. Hopefully this will prompt a little reflection on the benefits of federal assistance and a reassessment of the people they send to Congress- currently 18 members of Texas’s delegation are climate change deniers. It’s very easy to knock it until you need it yourself.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.