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Recently Ted Cruz was spotted on a plane to Cancun, which was criticized as the state is currently in a state of emergency due to power failures. But what exactly is a US Senator expected to do in a situation like this? Cruz doesn't have any executive authority within Texas and while I'm sure he could propose a law in Congress that would help the Texas power grid in the future, its not exactly a pressing concern.

So what could Ted Cruz have done to help his home state if he stayed on US soil?

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    What his opponent is doing. Senators are supposed to be leaders in their community beyond just doing their jobs. elpasotimes.com/story/news/2021/02/18/…
    – ohwilleke
    Feb 20 at 2:13
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    I think perhaps you've misunderstood the criticism. It's not that he (or any other Senator) is actually supposed to be doing anything (other than giving platitude-filled sound bites), it's that he is apparently using his position to escape a problem that he helped create. Then there's the more basic question of why he & his family should even be travelling internationally given the COVID situation. Elitism, basically.
    – jamesqf
    Feb 20 at 4:44
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    I'm genuinely confused by this question. Let's say you get hospitalized, and you call your parents, and they say "Oh sorry Jonathan, I'm not a doctor, not really sure what I could do for you, champ?" and fly off to Mexico? That's what you'd want them to do? CV for discrediting. Feb 20 at 16:37
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    @JonathanReez: There isn't much to it beyond that, plus a lot of pointing out of Cruz's hypocrisy WRT earlier comments about California's fire-induced rolling blackouts being due to Democratic policies.
    – jamesqf
    Feb 20 at 17:37
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    @JonathanReez The analogy you were responding to is perhaps a bit misleading, as the problem isn't that he appears insufficiently parental, it's that he displays a complete lack of leadership and awareness. He's in a position of elected power, and he's therefore expected to display leadership in tough times and to lead by example. This is why, at least until recently, sexual scandals and the like could so quickly end a politician's career: it's not (necessarily) that we don't expect this in people, it's that we demand better from those in positions of power and leadership. Feb 21 at 12:37
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Display compassion and dignity.

Society benefits from a perception of solidarity, whatever the individual actually feels. That might appear nonsensical from a strict utilitarian viewpoint (nobody else gets warmer if the Senator does not have a holiday), but humans are emotional beings.

For that matter, any non-essential travel during the pandemic sets a very bad example.

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  • Since the OP specified "beyond the ability of any other private citizen", it's kind of shocking that this is the accepted answer. Feb 21 at 12:32
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    @zibadawatimmy There's a difference between actions of a public figure and private citizens. Espcecially politicians whose job it is to care about their constituents.
    – Barmar
    Feb 21 at 14:17
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    @zibadawatimmy, you might note that the original question was edited (by someone other than the OP) after I wrote this. Read the original question.
    – o.m.
    Feb 21 at 14:40
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    @o.m. Noted and done. I usually presume a question hasn't been changed that dramatically, but indeed it had. I've reverted that edit for being inconsistent with the OP's apparent intent, evidenced in part by this being the accepted answer. If someone (OP or otherwise) wants that altered question they can ask it, and can downvote/close vote this existing one if they think it's inappropriate for the site. Feb 21 at 19:32
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    to some people, non-essential pandemic travel sets a "good" example of sticking it to those pesky democrats who are taking away my god-given right to spread a deadly disease
    – user253751
    Feb 22 at 16:42
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The problem here isn't what Cruz could have done. I mean, Senators have a lot of informal influence — there aren't that many people who can call a governor or other state officials directly and expect to get through, you know, but Senators surely can — and that could be put to good use even if there's noting 'official' that Cruz could do. For instance, Cruz could have gotten the FEMA generators distributed and implemented merely by calling around and getting the right people in FEMA in contact with the right people in Texas. But that isn't what bothers people.

What bothers people is the overt fact that Cruz found himself in the same unpleasant situation as the rest of Texas, but rather than responding as part of the community to face the problem — as one expects of a supposed public servant — he acted like a spoiled aristocrat, using his power and wealth to fly himself and his family off to warmer climes while the peons were left to suffer through as best they can. The act comes off as entitled and arrogant; as though he's too important to be bothered by the petty troubles of the citizens who elected him to office. It was a selfish, elitist move, one which wasn't helped by his half-baked excuses and apparent indifference to criticism.

People have a tendency to minimize this as mere 'optics', but 'optics' is a huge part of political leadership: setting the tone and tenor of a political moment. The tone Cruz set here was an air of glib indifference, with the message that each Texan is on his own, and political leaders don't really cares what happens as long as they don't have to be in the middle of it. Unless that was his intention, he failed in his political role.

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  • Has Cruz emailed his supporters asking for donations for affected people? My rep 6 states has... Feb 21 at 1:14
  • @AzorAhai-him-: No idea. But if he has, people should email Cruz back and ask him to send a letter by US mail. They can burn those for heat... Feb 21 at 1:50
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There are some things a Senator can assist with. Most notably in helping to coordinate Federal emergency aid

“There are official things that you need to be doing in terms of coordination of federal resources, but there’s also a lot of outreach you can be doing that isn’t just performative,” Dennis said. “It’s meaningful when an elected official feels people’s pain and sees what they are going through.”
President Biden approved disaster funding for Texas on Sunday, and while that allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin providing fuel, water, blankets and other resources, members of Congress know their districts well and have a role in helping to direct those resources. It’s possible a Congress member’sW staff could help direct those resources — but a staffer isn’t a substitute for the actual elected official, Dennis says.
“It’s always more effective when the senator is making those calls than when their staff is,” he said. “A senator can get through to the head of FEMA, or to the White House, when their staff might not be able to.”

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  • Are you saying the Biden campaign would ignore a call from a Congressional staffer?
    – user9790
    Feb 20 at 19:27
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    Couldn't Cruz make those calls from Mexico too? Feb 20 at 19:49
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    @KDog Not necessarily, but there's something to be said for the politician in question calling rather than one of their lackeys. Remember, you'll have to potentially work with said politician at some point.
    – Machavity
    Feb 20 at 21:00
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    @JonathanReez Maybe, but there's a reason why the so-called "game of telephone" is a very real thing and a major headache. Have you ever tried to organize something when you're on vacation? And in this case, the people you're needing to deal with might not have any power to communicate back with you.
    – Machavity
    Feb 20 at 21:02
  • @Machavity presumably due to COVID most of the work is remote as-is. I don't imagine Cruz would be getting 1-on-1 time with Biden without a very pressing reason. Feb 20 at 22:21

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