The majority of Cuban Americans in Florida — and fully 65 percent of us live in Florida, where we make up the largest voting-eligible population of Latinos — voted to re-elect President Donald Trump: 56 percent, according to NBC News exit polls. Many of us did so not only because we supported his policies, but also because he was very vocal against socialism, communism and imposed strong sanctions against the Cuban, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan regimes.
Among Latinos in Florida, we were not alone: 47 percent of Latinos supported Trump, including 50 percent of Latinos who were neither Cuban nor Puerto Rican. That includes Latinos who originated from Venezuela and Colombia, both of whom tend to look askance at support for socialist regimes in the region and socialist policies here in America.
With more than 2.5 million registered Latino voters in Florida, and around 337,000 votes separating President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden as of Saturday morning, it’s only fair to say that had Biden worried many of us less, the election results might have been less concerning to many liberals as well.
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Although Biden’s background doesn’t indicate he is a socialist himself, my concern — and the concern of many other Cuban-, Venezuelan- and Colombian Americans — is that his election means the ascendancy of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and other self-proclaimed democratic socialists within the Democratic Party, as well as the potential for the Democratic Party to embrace and push for socialist policies in the United States that we have seen fail elsewhere.
Our concerns about the rise of socialism in America were not remotely assuaged during the campaign because Biden did not unequivocally and openly reject either socialism, the members of his party promoting it or even members of his partly that openly sympathized with brutal socialist dictators. For instance, confirming my own personal fears as someone who received political asylum from Cuba, Biden was at one point considering Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., for the vice presidential slot, despite her history as an open Castro sympathizer. He ultimately picked Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who thankfully did not mourn the passing of Fidel Castro as “a great loss to the people of Cuba,” but nonetheless has a very liberal voting record as U.S. senator.
Understandably, defeating Trump required Biden to build a broad coalition among the left — including, apparently, socialists and communists. The question now is whether the Biden will keep his promises and take a centrist course or embrace the radical wing of his coalition. Traditionally, there has been a bipartisan anti-socialist consensus in the United States; Biden could show his commitment to his and perhaps appoint never-Trump Republicans equally committed to that consensus to his administration. Or he could instead promote Sanders and his ideological compatriots to senior positions into his administration and show that the time of an anti-socialist consensus has come to an end in America.
It’s fair to worry about the latter path: After all, a concerning and sizable fraction of voters do support extreme ideologies as revealed by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s latest poll — its fifth — on U.S. attitudes toward socialism and communism: 1 in 5 now support these ideologies.
But beyond a Biden administration’s policy path, the long-term challenge for those of us who understand the damage that socialism and communism can do to a country is educating younger Americans about its evils. The VOC’s poll clearly shows historical ignorance: 64 percent of Americans, for instance, did not know that the Chinese Communist Party is responsible for more deaths than Nazi Germany.
If we don’t success explaining to new generations the dangers of these ideologies, we are condemned to repeat history. Coming from Cuba, living as an exile is a tough experience, but if we lose America to the same forces I fought to leave, there is no other place to which to escape. We must resist; we must fight back.
I do hope we can come together as a nation after this election to continue building a more perfect union.
To that end, now that Trump’s presidency is coming to an end, we must come together to continue his anti-communist legacy. Despite his shortcomings on foreign policy, the Trump administration shifted America’s China, Cuba and Venezuela policy in a much more aggressive and assertive direction. Biden should continue Trump’s efforts at countering the Chinese propaganda machine, its robust espionage (both corporate and traditional efforts) programs and its economic imperialism.
As senator and vice president, though, Biden’s policy positions toward communist regimes such as Cuba and China have historically been weak. During the campaign, he did seem to realize that the United States is facing a second Cold War with China. And so, if the president-elect rejects domestic radicals — including the so-called democratic socialists — and fights against our foreign communist enemies, we must all support him, whether or not we voted for him.
Biden won; but let’s hope socialism and communism did not.