Blame for freezing with no electricity

The weather has reached record low temperatures across the country.  That's not news for February.  The Wall Street Journal has reported that at least fifteen have died as power outages left homes without heat because of the frigid temperatures wreaking havoc on energy-rich states like Texas.

An intriguing dynamic on media platforms shows each side blaming the other for these travesties.  The blame game isn't new to American politics — it's as old as cold weather in February.  However, its uneven implementation in a post-Trump presidency has led to flimsy and contorted narratives intended to further polarizing ideologies.

Snowy Texas freeway interchange (YouTube screen grab, cropped).

It feels a bit like watching a hold 'em poker final where both gamblers have gone all in while needing the river card to save their long-shot hands.

Legacy media outlet CNN offered a headline yesterday reading, "Texas produces more power than any other state. Here's why it went dark anyway."  Simultaneously, CNS News wrote a piece quoting an interview with Rick Perry on the Fox News Tucker Carlson show.  Perry lamented our lack of energy diversity.  Almost as if divinely ordained, the power went out in Perry's home just as the interview began.

Competing narratives have been the norm between the left and right for longer than any of us care to remember.  When Trump was in office, he took most arrows for conservatives.  Now that he's no longer in office, he's still taking arrows for conservatives.  With conservatives cannibalizing the smoldering remains of the GOP, there isn't a cohesive message to counter the "Orange Man Still Bad" screed. 

It creates a space where even porous narratives stand a chance of living on despite their obvious weaknesses.  The winter storm completed a trifecta of circumstances.

  • Energy-producing states in the South don't often get hit with subzero temperatures.  There is little need for the added costs to winterize their windmills or water pipes used in managing that production. 
  • A vacuum in national gravitas with a well supported former president unleashed against even his own party brings further chaos to the most unusual transition of power we've seen in decades. 
  • And, of course, the public commitment by Biden & Co. to reinvest in green energy compels both sides to rattle their sabers for the coming fight.

There is blame enough to go around for Republicans and Democrats.  The time to assess responsibility and point fingers should come after the crisis has passed.  The legitimate concern about when power will be fully restored has many Americans panicked.  As if that weren't enough, news broadcasts are prepping their viewers for potentially astronomical increases in energy costs.

In the end, we are left watching the poker game.  Each side will claim a mandate for its preferred method of energy production and delivery, depending on the outcome of that critical river card.  You and I will be left to foot the bill for whichever side wins.

In the game of twisted narratives lobbed against political adversaries, we always seem to pick up the check as both teams walk away from the table, back-slapping as they go.  It's the American way.

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