Monday, May 2, 2016

Republican's potential loss of the Cuban-American vote has the making of a Greek tragedy

How to avoid a self-fulfilling prophecy

Donald Trump is likely taking bad advice on Cuba policy from Jorge Perez
 The Republican party's potential loss of the Cuban-American vote has the making of a Greek tragedy. Pollsters have been predicting for more than a decade that the continuing influx of Cuban refugees combined with that of younger Cuban Americans with voting tendencies more in line with the general population would lead to a shift in voter demographics harmful to the GOP.

In response to this perceived threat, it appears beginning with Congressman David Rivera in 2012 there has been an effort to gut the Cuban Adjustment Act, under the guise of reforming it, to avoid this outcome.  Worse yet, the claim that because President Obama has sought to normalize relations with the Castro dictatorship, that somehow the regime has changed and the Cuban Adjustment Act is no longer needed, will do more harm to the Republican brand among Cuban American voters.

Local Cuban-American elected officials remain overwhelmingly popular because of their principled Cuba policy stance. The Miami Herald reported that a poll conducted by Dario Moreno, a Coral Gables pollster found that "Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Senator Marco Rubio all have approval ratings of more than 70 percent among Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade, the only Florida county Rubio won as a presidential candidate."

This will change dramatically if and when the Cuban Adjustment Act is ended, especially if local members are perceived as having had a roll in its end. Cuban-American support for the Republican party centers around Cuba policy and the marked contrast between the anti-communist position taken by Republicans supporting economic sanctions and a principled human rights first policy.

The case of Donald Trump, who publicly supports President Obama's failed Cuba policy, should be a cautionary tale for Republicans. According to the Moreno poll "37% of respondents supported Trump, a number that is still higher than the 31% who backed Clinton — but also 'the lowest in history that any potential Republican candidate polls among this traditionally loyal demographic.'"

This should not be a surprise. Winning Democrats historically have known to take a hard line on Cuba to get into and stay in office. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ran supporting economic sanctions on Castro and a human rights first policy. Candidate Obama in 2008 in Miami flip flopped from a previous position stating:
“Don’t be confused about this. I will maintain the embargo,” Mr. Obama said. “It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: If you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations.”
 It was only after both Clinton and Obama were re-elected that they shifted full speed on a normalization policy with the Castro dictatorship.

Hillary Clinton is openly supporting President Obama's Cuba policy but does not have it as a big negative because her likely Republican opponent, Donald Trump, has the same position that alienates him from Cuban-American Republican voters.

The Castro regime for decades has wanted the end of the Cuban Embargo and Cuban Adjustment Act in order to legitimize and consolidate its rule. Thanks to Ronald Reagan the effort of Jimmy Carter between 1977-1980 to normalize relations with Castro was undone and replaced with a principled human rights first policy highlighting the Cuban democratic resistance.

Ending the Cuban Adjustment Act would assist the Castro regime in achieving a long term goal that is part of the normalization process being advanced by the White House. The Obama administration's non-enforcement of the embargo and turning a blind eye to abuses seeks to obtain the overturning of the Cuban Adjustment Act without having to get their hands dirty, with Republicans taking the hit with their Cuban American base after the consequences of ending it become evident.

The belief that newly arrived Cubans would overwhelmingly register to vote Democrat will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and political suicide for South Florida Republicans. The way to avoid this is to contrast the Obama administration's failed Cuba policy with a principled one that looks out for American taxpayers, U.S. national security and human rights in Cuba.

If Donald Trump wants to obtain more than 37% of the Cuban-American vote he needs to stop listening to Jorge Perez and other shills for doing business with the Castro regime then listen to Cuban American members of congress that have 70% approval ratings.

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  1. It'd be interesting to see if some of the Trump-supporting Cuban-Americans polled by the joint FIU/Miami Herald poll agree with Obama's Cuba policy yet support Trump because they see him as the only hope for raising the fortunes of white-collar and blue-collar workers, given that Carlos Gutierrez threw his weight behind Obama's rapprochement with Cuba last year. Since Trump is the only GOP candidate to support Obama's Cuba policy, he might not feel inclined to go to Miami because there have been past complaints from political pundits that Mitt Romney spoke out against unrestricted Cuban-American family travel to Cuba just to win vote for GOP-registered Cuban-American voters in Florida, and because the chants of "Down with Fidel" in Miami are merely a teeny tiny shadow of what they were in the 1980s and 1990s.

    1. Whether GOP or Democrat the Cuban American delegation in Congress both in South Florida, in New Jersey and West Virginia are unified on a pro-sanctions Cuba policy that puts human rights first. Romney may have also been an early victim of the self fulfilling prophesy I mentioned above. The CAA is part of the collection of laws erected in response to the reality that Cuba is and remains a communist dictatorship which has some unique characteristics in this hemisphere that demand a different policy than others.