By LaKeshia N. Myers
One of the fundamental differences between the Democratic and Republican parties centers on the issue of government control. This is not a new nuance, it was actually the first political issue that was debated within the first political parties, the Federalist Party, founded by Alexander Hamilton, and the Anti-Federalists, led by Patrick Henry. The Federalist Party appealed to businesses and to conservatives who favored banks, national over state government, manufacturing, establishment of an army and navy and a central bank. The Anti-federalists favored state government and limited federal input.
Over the past 234 years, the issues of government control and deregulation have been debated immensely and the modern Republican Party has held fast to the state’s right doctrine and favored deregulation. However, chickens do come home to roost. This past week we learned that the state of Texas, which is known for championing deregulation efforts, was on its own private power grid. For years, Texas refused to join interstate electrical grids and railed against energy regulation. Yet in the wake of last week’s horrendous winter storm, millions of residents were left without power.
According to the New York Times, part of the responsibility for the near-collapse of the state’s electrical grid can be traced to the decision in 1999 to embark on the nation’s most extensive experiment in electrical deregulation, handing control of the state’s entire electricity delivery system to a market-based patchwork of private generators, transmission companies and energy retailers (New York Times, 2021). This hodge-podge approach to energy created a damning effect for Texans as they grappled with rolling blackouts, icy conditions, bursting pipes and water damage.
Apparently Texas didn’t get the message that deregulation hurts consumers, this was one of the very things California learned during its power crisis in the early 2000s—does the name Eron ring a bell? Back then, California had a shortage of electricity which was caused by market manipulations and capped retail electricity prices. The state suffered from multiple large-scale blackouts, so much so that to save energy even the lights that shine on the “Hollywood” sign were turned off to conserve energy.
While I wish the people of Texas the best in their recovery from the horrible winter weather, I also hope they make their grievances known at the ballot box and in the inboxes of their elected officials. Their lives have been gambled and they lost big time, all in the name of independence—all to keep the dream of “The Republic of Texas” alive.