During the Texas snowstorm, our very own Senator Ted Cruz took a trip to Cancun, Mexico. Cruz received much blowback for this trip both from his senate colleagues and Texas constituents. However, as someone who voted for the senator in 2018, the trip to Cancun does not bother me at all.
Much of the blowback centered on Cruz was that, as a leader, he left the state when Texas was in a major crisis. Naturally, when we put the trip into the context of the storm and take the actions of the senator at face value, what he did looks extremely troubling. However, the biggest problem I have with the idea that Cruz should have been in Texas is the role he plays in our government.
Cruz represents our state at the federal level. Representing Texas in the federal government means a good portion of the senator’s time is already spent away from Texas in Washington D.C., as it should be. The officials who should be on the ground first are the state and local government officials. These state and local politicians represent Texans on a more personal level and can much more effectively communicate with a number of citizens to get things done.
Although it is part of Cruz’s job to convince the White House to declare a disaster or to get relief from the federal government, it is important to note the senator did get this job done. Because he did what was required of him, much of the criticism leveled against Cruz can be chalked up to the optics of leaving the state during a major storm.
Admittedly, leaving the state at such a crucial time can be viewed as bad optics for someone who will most likely be running for reelection in the future. Part of the job of being in Congress is the optics of the decisions you make. If a politician is seen breaking rules they have pushed for, it can be devastating for their career. Just look at California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who attended events that violated his own COVID-19 guidelines. Although attending those events might not be the end of his political career, it brought an unwanted obstacle to the future of his job as governor.
It is important to note that Cruz never broke any of his own rules by traveling to Cancun. Unlike politicians such as Newsom, who advocate for a rule and simply do not follow it, Cruz never lobbied against traveling outside of Texas. Presumably, for him to be a hypocrite in this situation, he would have had to make a statement or advocate against leaving the state in a time of crisis, which simply did not happen.
The worst part about the Mexico trip for the senator is the backlash it will cause in his future political endeavors. Any time he is on stage debating, his opponents can simply bring the trip up and use it as a hammer to beat down any kind of arguments the senator wants to make. Consequently, Cruz will have to work extra hard if he wants to make up the difference in support for his next election, should he choose to run.
One of the future endeavors the Mexico trip could hurt is his highly speculated 2024 presidential campaign. It is way too early to say for sure whether Cruz will run. However, since he was a prominent figure in the 2016 election, many Republicans would like to see him run again. As a well known politician, he already has a national image, making this Cancun fiasco even more of an obstacle for him to overcome in the future.
To move on from this, Cruz must continue to show he deeply cares about all Texans. If a future disaster were to happen in Texas, he would indeed have to stay within the state. If these goals are accomplished, I have no doubt the senator will continue to be liked by many of the same people who voted for him in 2018.
Bryce Robinson is a business administration sophomore and opinion writer for The Battalion.