Once again Florida’s Democrats find themselves so fearful of the term “socialism” that they are pandering when they discuss policy. Maybe it’s because of the oxygen media in the state gives this term despite feigning sympathy with the mis-characterization (Ron DeSantis, whose ideology is one of Statist authoritarianism is hardly ever characterized as anything but a “conservative” when he is plainly NOT a conservative by contrast).
The Miami Herald has an interesting editorial today talking about 27 years of Democratic Party failure in Florida – they are spot on in the premise and as these pages have told the story for our entire existence, the Democrats fail for a whole host of reasons in Florida, making the state largely noncompetitive in any cycle which doesn’t favor the party nationally. As recent studies have shown (more on this in the coming weeks), Democrats underperform down-ballot in Florida as much if not more than any other state in union relative to expectations.
So I figured this was an editorial I wanted to read and cite – and while it makes good points often made on this website the motivation for the piece appears to be the Democrats perceived stance on Cuba. And that is not in any way a good reason to bash the democrats or progressives. The Herald has in the last week attempted via its editorial page and op-eds to shape Democrats policy toward Cuba to suit its agenda – a classic example of activist media pushing pet ideas.
Let’s dive a bit deeper here:
1- I’d love to see polling on Cuba issue outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Does anyone even care about this issue in the rest of the state? The rest of the country?
2- How can the Democrats maintain credibility as a party that is committed to equality, racial justice and anti-imperialism (though I’d argue lately the Democrats seem to be more into imperialism in certain senses than GOPers) if Cuba policy is dictated by corporate and right-wing interests as well as electoral pandering while ignoring any number of similar movements against right-wing governments that have US support abroad?
3- Florida Democrats gained NOTHING from pandering on Venezuela in 2019, backing Juan Guaidó , a largely US-created opposition leader to Nicolás Maduro. In fact the “socialist” tag on the Democrats was more potent in 2020 after the pandering on Venezuela than in 2018.
4- Democrats in Florida appear to reject the policies of President Obama when it comes to Cuba and as I have pointed during the campaign, seem to not understand President Biden’s long-term views on Latin America going back to the 1980’s (when he voted against Contra Aid among other votes that would annoy right wing, red-baiters in Miami) which are partly shaped by his Catholic faith. The pushing of Biden on this issue by elites in a state where Biden stunningly lost by three points smacks of selfishness and lack of self-awareness.
5- The Democrats have to win elections nationally not just in Florida. For years the United States’ policy toward Cuba has been largely shaped by the need to win Florida. President Biden being elected WITHOUT WINNING Florida should retire the need to pander to most right-wing forces on Cuba policy.
6- Around the time the Cuba SOS protests began Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated. Let’s dive into that more below.
Interestingly many Florida Democrats at a high level are saying little about Haiti despite Moïse’s assassination – though another 1970’s-like exodus from the island that directly impacts Florida is possible. Similarly, the media is not clamoring for the Democrats to speak on this issue or actively trying to influence what happens in Haiti.
It would be nice in this era of racial-awakening that it be acknowledged Haiti’s predicament while partly a knock-on impact from horrible French Colonial rule is largely down to the US’ occupation of the island from 1915 to 1934. Under the United States most racist-President ever President Woodrow Wilson, the US occupied the island, imposed racial segregation, forced labor, threw the country in permanent debt to US bankers, overran the island with US corporations and used the Marines to enforce the new social hierarchy.
Everything that has happened in Haiti since the 1930’s has been directly attributable to the US occupation, and much of the political intrigued on the island is down to US interference. Haitian-Americans represent a large constituency in south Florida, yet for whatever reason the issue remains very niche.
These last few weeks have been very revealing about the ugly truth about what dictates media or interest from party elites. Sadly, the optics aren’t great for many of us.
During this past week’s attacks on the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, I searched in vain for polling of Democrats on Cuba policy. If it exists, I couldn’t find it. Nobody is interested in any opinions other than those of Cuban Americans. As long as our foreign policy is held hostage to the viewpoints of an older generation who came here prior to 1980, I fear the failed embargo will continue to do harm.
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Something that I find interesting is during the very large anti Cuban regime protests in Madrid over the weekend no one actually seemed to be opposing the Spanish and EU policy vis a vis trade with Cuba which I find kind of interesting. Obviously given the lack of an embargo on the part of the EU there are more trade and communications links between the EU/Spain and Cuba than there are between Florida and Cuba but I part of me gets the sense that the Miami exile community is somewhat out of touch compared to the Madrid exile community.
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