The Democratic Party is about to make an outspoken “Democratic Socialist” its nominee for President of the United States.
Bernie Sanders, the aforementioned avowed socialist, is famous for his sweeping policy proposals like Medicare-for-All, student debt cancellation, and national rent control.
But recently, the spotlight has been on Sanders for a different reason: the question of Cuba. Press Sanders on his past affinity for Communist regimes in countries like the U.S.S.R. (where he honeymooned), Cuba, and Nicaragua, and he becomes defensive.
What’s the very first thing that comes to mind when Bernie Sanders thinks of Fidel Castro, the torturous, murderous former Dictator of Cuba? Literacy programs.
Sanders’ comments on Cuba build on a history of his making excuses for authoritarian, Communist regimes. And when the crowd and moderators pressed him on it in Tuesday night’s debate in South Carolina, he moved from defensive to combative.
Booed by the crowd in attendance, he responded, “really? Literacy programs are bad?”
Anyone with common sense would respond: “literacy programs are not bad. But 30 million murders are.” But Bernie Sanders lacks common sense. And that lack will cost him the 2020 election.
Florida is Gone
Sanders’ decision to double down on his previous remarks in defense of Cuba is not only morally unconscionable, but it is also politically irresponsible.
Affinity for Cuba is very rare anywhere in the electorate. But in South Florida, a state with as many as 1.5 million Cuban immigrants, such affinity is lethal. Many of the Cuban residents of Miami literally floated over to America’s southern shore on crude life rafts, removed doors, and even old truck beds.
Risking their lives, they dove into the ocean to flee Castro’s persecution. And you can bet that literacy programs were the furthest thing from their mind.
Now, those same refugees are hardworking Americans and members of the voting public. A Democrat cannot possibly win Florida without enthusiastic support in Miami-Dade County, the state’s most populous county. The Cuban vote against Sanders there alone will make Florida completely unwinnable for Sanders.
The Bigger Issue
Of course, from a broader view, the bigger issue here is not Sanders’ political strategy, but his heart.
When Sanders thinks of America, he thinks first of a broken country full of problems, shortcomings, and perceived oppressions. He’s fond of citing that America is the richest country in the history of the world, but he views it as a bad thing. The greatest and freest society ever conceived is, to Sanders, first and foremost a disappointment.
But when Sanders thinks of Cuba, Russia, and other Communist dictatorships, his first thought is not of oppression, torture, and imprisonment. His eyes don’t flash to gulags and internment camps. He doesn’t linger on the intentional or passive genocide that often occurs in these nations.
Instead, Sanders thinks of what these countries get right. He thinks of literacy programs and bread lines (which in his eyes are a positive thing). He dreams of a better future, where the true dream of a Communist utopia can be realized.
While the idea that he defends Cuba may generate more headlines, the reality that Sanders prefers that kind of regime to the United States is what’s really at stake here. The Democratic Party is about to nominate a candidate for President that, at his core, hates the United States more than he despises Fidel Castro, Vladimir Lenin, or Joseph Stalin. That’s the real headline.