There are potentially very dark clouds on the horizon for Democrats in the Sunshine State.
Protests raged in the streets of Cuba. Many lawmakers from both parties spoke up to support the demonstrators under threat of violence from the Communist regime.
And yet, what we learn about political unrest in Cuba could shed light on whether Democrats or Republicans control the House and Senate after the 2022 midterms, and the political stripe of Florida.
Let’s start with members of the squad in the House of Representatives: Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.
These progressive lawmakers are usually outspoken when it comes to U.S. foreign policy. Tlaib and Omar have made controversial remarks about Israel and American support for the Jewish state. But all were conspicuously quiet – for days – when it came to supporting the anti-communist protesters in Cuba.
“The silence of the squad is deafening,” said Josh Kraushaar of National Journal. “They rarely miss an opportunity to speak out against violations of human rights in any part of the globe.”
And when one of the squad members did speak, it revealed a rift in the Democratic party. It showed that Republicans may have a wedge to portray Democrats as soft on socialism.
After days of radio silence Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez condemned the anti-democratic crackdown in Cuba.
But then the Congresswoman ripped the President.
“I outright reject the Biden Administration’s defense of the embargo,” chastised Ocasio-Cortez, characterizing the U.S. economic blockade as “cruelty.”
Former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., upbraided Ocasio-Cortez for her take, via Twitter. The Florida Democrat noted that Havana “has violated human rights” and “killed dissidents.”
Four House members are associated with the Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA: Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Reps. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., & Cori Bush, D-Mo.
NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES SAID CUBA IS AMONG ‘MOST EQUAL’ COUNTRIES BECAUSE OF SOCIALISM
The DSA has expressed solidarity with the communist government in Cuba.
“There doesn’t seem to be a way to convince them that the regime in Cuba is even a dictatorship,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. “Clearly they have that great admiration for radical left ideologies. They themselves espouse radical left ideologies.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., identifies as a socialist. But Sanders backs the protesters over the communist government.
“I urgently hope that the government there will tolerate and respect people’s right to protest,” said Sanders.
But there’s a political problem for Democrats if many of their most outspoken, left-wing members don’t speak out against Havana.
Democrats lost two House seats in southern Florida last year, one held by Mucarsel-Powell. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., toppled Mucarsel-Powell. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., unseated former Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla.
That’s because partly Cuban-American voters thought Democrats were squishy on socialism. And, the views of progressives in Congress overshadow mainstream voices in the party.
“It fits into the Republican overall message, especially in Florida, but across the country, that the Democratic Party has been co-opted by these socialist lawmakers,” said Kraushaar. Progressives “overshadow the silent majority of more moderate Democrats who don’t share their views on foreign policy. Certainly not on Cuba. So that’s the political challenge.”
REP. NICOLE MALLIOTAKIS RIPS AOC AS A ‘COMMUNIST SYMPATHIZER’ AFTER CUBA REMARKS
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the national organization devoted to electing GOPers to the Senate. Scott is making sure voters know about the demonstrations in Havana.
“I have a real concern about what’s going on in Cuba. We have the biggest, peaceful protests in decades. They are tired of not having food. Medicine. Water. And they are in the street. The Castro regime is cracking down,” said Scott. “I’m disappointed in the Biden Administration. They have an opportunity to support the people of Cuba.”
Here’s something to look for: Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., is challenging Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., next year. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., who occupied the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee from 2007 to 2011 – as a Republican – is now angling to run against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Democrats are also eyeing the defeat of Gimenez and Salazar – since they lost those two seats in the fall.
Watch to see if Democrats have any success with any of these seats. And if they don’t, is the reason because of Cuban-Americans or Hispanics siding with the GOP?
Republicans are aware of this problem facing Democrats. That’s why Rubio almost immediately characterized the Biden Administration’s response to Cuba as “lame.”
“Florida used to be the swing state of swing states,” observed Kraushaar. He notes it’s now a Republican-leaning state. Democrats “can’t afford to alienate what was once a pretty competitive constituency among Cuban Americans. More broadly, among Hispanic Americans,” he said. “And the fact that the trends are all in the wrong direction should be worrisome for the Democratic party.”
We haven’t even mentioned how the crisis in Haiti could influence some Florida voters. President Biden isn’t willing to send U.S. troops to help stabilize the situation in Haiti after thugs murdered Haitian President Jovenel Moise earlier this month. Former President Trump outpaced Mr. Biden in Florida in 2020 by more than three percentage points, pocketing all of the state’s 29 electoral votes.
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There’s also concern about how progressives such as Omar and Tlaib have splintered the Democratic party over Israel after recent fighting with Hamas and Palestinians. A failure to stand foursquare behind Israel could really wound Democrats among Jewish constituencies in southern Florida.
That said, opportunity in politics sometimes masquerades as danger. It’s possible Democrats could use issues with Cuban American, Haitian and Jewish voters in Florida to their advantage. After all, Democrats could effectively flip the Senate and even cling to a narrow majority in the House in 2022 based on good election returns in Florida alone.
But if they stumble? That’s a problem. The message from Democrats on Cuba and “socialism” could undermine the party. This is why some Democrats are walking on eggshells. They’re not sure how to recalibrate their party’s message with some of Florida’s core voting constituencies.
And if Democrats don’t flip any of those key seats, it may mean that the Sunshine State is no longer a swing state.
Published at Mon, 19 Jul 2021 21:08:03 +0000
This post originally posted here https://www.foxnews.com/politics/purple-florida-may-soon-get-a-coat-of-red-painted-on-by-the-democratic-left