Facts are stubborn things. So, the best way for Democrats to push a good partisan narrative is to ignore them entirely.
That’s what many on the Left are doing right now in the aftermath of a disastrous train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. They’re attempting to pin the blame for the ensuing chemical disaster on former President Donald Trump and “deregulation” more broadly, arguing that the Trump administration repealed an Obama-era safety rule that could’ve prevented this tragic accident.
Progressive voices ranging from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the White House to the popular “Pod Save America” hosts and huge liberal social media pages such as Occupy Democrats have made this accusation or insinuation.
Imagine thinking that passing out MAGA hats, expired water, and Big Macs will make people forget the huge shitshow YOU created with deregulation.
I will NEVER forget.
trump is to blame.
— BrooklynDad_Defiant!☮️ (@mmpadellan) February 23, 2023
Correction: It was deregulation under Trump that led to the conditions that made these train derailments happen. TELL THE TRUTH!
Stop blaming Biden and start taking accountability for your bad decisions. pic.twitter.com/8iD8nqpWKN
— Tamie Wilson (D) for US Congress (OH-4) (@TamieUSCongress) February 16, 2023
MAGA is mad at President Biden for a rail accident that was only possible because of railway rules deregulated under Trump.
You can't make this stuff up.
— CALL TO ACTIVISM (@CalltoActivism) February 14, 2023
There’s just one problem: It’s complete nonsense. We can debate the pros and cons of that regulation, but it has nothing to do with the current controversy. As a simple matter of fact, it would not have applied to the train that derailed in East Palestine.
You don’t have to take my word for it; take it from the New York Times, hardly a pro-Trump or anti-regulation source.
“Since the Feb. 3 derailment in Ohio, some lawmakers and activists have pointed to a 2015 safety regulation adopted by the Obama administration as an example of the changes that they say are needed to make railroads safer. … But after lobbying by the railroad industry, the Trump administration repealed the rule in 2018,” the New York Times reports . Yet it goes on to admit that: “Had the rule remained in effect, it would not have applied to the Norfolk Southern train that derailed in East Palestine.”
The New York Times’s source for this is Jennifer Homendy, a Democrat and head of the National Transportation Safety Board.
“Anyone speculating about what happened, didn’t happen, or should’ve happened is misleading a suffering community — PLEASE STOP SPREADING MISINFORMATION,” Homendy said in a Twitter thread . “For example … Some are saying the ECP (electronically controlled pneumatic) brake rule, if implemented, would’ve prevented this derailment. FALSE — here’s why.”
“The ECP braking rule would’ve applied ONLY to HIGH HAZARD FLAMMABLE TRAINS,” she explained. “The train that derailed in East Palestine was a MIXED FREIGHT TRAIN. This means even if the rule had gone into effect, this train wouldn’t have had ECP brakes.”
And, what’s more, even if the train had had ECP brakes, it still wouldn’t have prevented the disaster, Homendy says.
WATCH: NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy says the brake rule Buttigieg and Joy Behar blamed President Trump for repealing 'would not have prevented' the East Palestine derailment.
"The wheel bearing failed on car number 23. So even with ECP brakes, the derailment would have occurred." pic.twitter.com/AECPta0T5F
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) February 24, 2023
So, it’s simply factually bankrupt to push the narrative that blame for this disaster lies at Republicans’ feet for their deregulation. It may well be that the company messed up big-time here. It’s entirely possible that some hypothetical regulation could’ve prevented it. But it’s also possible that it’s a freak accident no one could’ve prevented or that the company messed up in ways already contrary to current rules and regulations.
We simply don’t know.
The rush to find someone to blame or a preexisting ideological narrative to superimpose this incident onto is deeply counterproductive. On that front, it’s also worth noting that, while their response can certainly be criticized, this disaster wasn’t caused by President Joe Biden or Buttigieg, either.
Everyone involved should focus less on finding a partisan scapegoat and more on helping the victims of this disaster.