Like millions of others in the Lone Star State, I am living without power following a once-in-a-century snowstorm that has crippled our state’s infrastructure. Without a shower or a means to shave, I am in what some military guys term as living in “field conditions” – just the bare essentials. So, when I heard that Senator Ted Cruz abandoned our plight and decided to jet off to Cancun, Mexico, I was enraged. Millions of Texans want to throw a rock or two at Ted Cruz.
Nevertheless, I’m not here to launch a projectile at Senator Cruz. What I want to do is to show America what political leaders can do to help others in a time of crisis.
Texas State Representative Lyle Larson, a Republican, represents the social media leadership that I respect. As there have been a lot of issues concerning water resources in his district, Larson used his Facebook post to share updates on the San Antonio Water System. As my elected representative, Larson understands the value of social media and for sharing information. He represents the influence of his office well, and he could give a lesson to others on the influence of social media and communications when there isn’t power or heat.
My wife serves as the Democratic precinct chair in north San Antonio. Like Representative Larson, she has spent a considerable amount of time on Facebook posting about the storm. In fact, it was through her that I learned about Larson’s social media outreach. Although she is from the other side of the aisle, she understood that this disaster should not be politicized. Information is information, regardless of who it comes from.
We made over 151,000 calls to senior citizens in Texas tonight. One of our vols talked to a man stranded at home w/out power in Killeen, hadn’t eaten in 2 days, got him a ride to a warming center and a hot meal. Help us reach more people, join us tomorrow: https://t.co/WOLn2HCrm1
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) February 18, 2021
Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, a 2020 Democratic Presidential hopeful who made a run for Cruz’s Senate seat in 2018, has used his political and social media influence to help people in Texas connect with resources and emergency services. Most notably, O’Rourke used Twitter to get people to check in on senior citizens.
I could fill up my time scrolling through my Twitter, happily watching the Internet flay Cruz for his stupidity. He’s a tempting emotional punching bag. But what will this public condemnation accomplish? We must follow O’Rourke’s example and help others.
Our desire to virtually stone Senator Cruz is a typical reaction in the age of social media. Taking to social media to toss a stony projectile is what we do when people like Ted Cruz take a trip to Mexico. Yet, as Jesus once said when religious scholars asked him about stoning a woman for adultery: “The sinless one among you, go fire: ‘Throw the stone.”
In other words: It’s easy for all of us to act morally superior and go into attack mode when people like Cruz fail in their duties as elected leaders. Accountability will come in time, but right now, we have a crisis to address. For the time being, I’m urging people to holster their outrage and focus their attention elsewhere. America, let’s learn from O’Rourke and Larson and use social media influence to help those in need
Matt Scherer served in the Air Force for 20 years as a public affairs professional. He co-founded the Military Transition Roundtable, a non-profit that helps veterans with their transition.