The Cuban American vote can be pivotal in a battleground state like Florida. The community is a high-intensity voting bloc; they show up on election day and cast their ballots. And more importantly, presidential candidates who have ignored or antagonized Cuban Americans run a huge risk of paying for their irreverence at the ballot box (e.g. Al Gore and Hillary Clinton).
For nearly six decades, the Cuban American community in South Florida has been unapologetically and unequivocally anti-socialist. Cuban American voters and their families fled the tyranny and murderous repression of socialism in Cuba to live and raise their families in freedom. The last thing most Cuban Americans want to hear is a presidential candidate telling them how wonderful socialism is and how it will fix all their problems.
Cuban Americans have seen socialism up close, many have lived through it. No amount of socialist propaganda will persuade them the same political system that destroyed Cuba and the lives of millions of Cubans will not do the same to them in the U.S.
Democrats are well aware of this, but to coin a phrase: Nevertheless, they persisted.
“I’ve been working and fighting against the communists since I was 11 years old,” said Emilio Izquierdo, a 71-year-old Cuban-American exile, as he stood outside the legendary Versailles restaurant in the sweltering heat of Little Havana.
For decades, people like Izquierdo have come to this place to see friends, eat authentic Cuban food and talk politics. On Wednesday, as patrons ordered Cuban sandwiches and café con leche, Izquierdo was getting fired up talking about the rise in socialism in the United States — something, he said in an interview with Fox News, he fears will “destroy America.”
The flirtation by Democratic presidential candidates with socialistic policies comes as polling indicates Democrats could have an opening to chip away at the traditionally solid GOP support from the Cuban-American community, particularly with younger voters. But the older generation, in conversations at Versailles, suggested Democrats could be alienating the community by openly embracing socialistic policies, as candidates did for two nights in Miami this week.
“They don’t like the socialism,” 81-year-old Antonio Roque, who was born in Cuba and came to America in 1962, said of the Cuban-American community while standing at the counter of Versailles, amid a steady stream of tourists and locals. “I don’t like it.”
Another patron, 53-year-old Gonzalo Lopez, who was also born in Cuba, said he decided against watching the Democratic debates because “I don’t like any of the Democrats right now…I don’t like socialism.”
“It’s a fight between democracy and socialism,” Lopez said. “I’ve got nothing to do with the second one.”
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The Democrat Party is lurching to the left, embracing socialism and attacking freedoms. By doing this, they are pushing an already wary Cuban American voting bloc further away.