The Slavish Voter Revolt
Hurricane Frances isn't the only powerful storm about to hit Florida hard - and Miami is where the eye of that new storm is located.
Historically, Cuban-Americans have been reliably Republican, contending that the party has more thoroughly embraced their staunchly anti-Castro platform than the Democrats. But the group is changing socially and politically. Prominent exile leaders in South Florida now favor a more conciliatory relationship with Cuba, while still denouncing Mr. Castro. The change in attitudes reflects an ideological split between the original Cuban exiles and their children and grandchildren, and between immigrants who left Cuba for economic reasons and those who fled for political reasons.
"The Cuban-American community has been ignored by Democrats for a long time," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network. "Joe is going to send a message to Cuban-Americans that they are welcome in the Democratic Party."
Joe Garcia, executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation, has become the senior advisor in Florida for the New Democrat Network, a Washington-based 527 organization. "I think this is probably the most important election of my generation, and I have to get involved," Mr. Garcia said.
As executive director of the foundation, a nonpartisan group, Mr. Garcia's role was to promote policies affecting Cuban affairs without endorsing any political party. "I don't think we've reached out enough to Cuban-Americans and Hispanics in general," Mr. Garcia said of the Democratic Party. "As Democrats, we make a huge mistake in walking away from the Cuban-American vote. And as Cuban-Americans, we've paid a huge price."
Mr. Garcia, a longtime Democrat, said he chose to join the New Democrat Network because he believed no group was doing a better job reaching out to Hispanics in Florida and across the country.
The Florida Cuban community has demonstrated a high level of accomplishment which has been sucessfully exploited by the Republican Party for years. Could it be that the Cuban community is beginning to tire of endless promises of toppling Fidel Castro in exchange for requests for big contributions and their votes? One can only pay for so long before one expects delivery!
There is a lesson here for both parties. The GOP is seeking more support from both Hispanics and Blacks, another community who hears many promises and receives delivery on few of them. Is forty acres enough to keep your mule fed?
On the other hand, the Democrats have to understand that promises are expected to be kept. Keeping the large majorities of Democratic voters in both communities will mean delivering on promises if this support is to be maintained. Learning to do so could result in a more successful process of attracting Asian voters away from the GOP.
The Democrats still have one advantage over the Republicans - they are much more diverse ethnically. Having members of a targeted community, as Joe Garcia represents, in positions of influence and authority presents a much more honest, and thus supportable, organization to the voters. Utilizing token front-persons acting under tightly-held control by the rich White men behind the scenes can't work as well - too many opportunities are lost while the information is relayed back to the controllers, who have to decide how to act based on what is usually faulty information, and then have to transmit the commands back to the front. Wasted time, effort, and opportunity. Game, set, match. Businesses don't work too well under such gross inefficiency - and the voters can't be outsourced to India or China like workers' jobs can.
The Democrats have another advantage over the Republicans. Just like the infamous embezzlement scandal concerning Hollinger International's executives awarding themselves 95.2% of Hollinger's entire adjusted net income during the period 1997-2003, the Republican Party is long on promise and short on delivery, while the Democrats do somewhat better (with room for improvement, guys!) in sharing the profits. Just compare the condition of the workers under Reagan and the Bu$he$' policies compared to Bill Clinton's - wages and stability and numbers of employed actually declined while under the former while the opposite was true under Clinton.
People aren't as blind, deaf, and dumb as the Republicans like to think they are, even if they aren't so awake, aware, and adaptable as some would prefer. They will at some point see that they are being taken, and will rapidly switch to support the other side with hardly a thought. One can only push them so far, and the Republicans always overreach. They can only reclaim these supporters when the Democrats get complacent - another lesson to be learned by the party leaders.
All but a few of the last 24 years have been Republican-dominated, whether by holding the White House and the prestige and power that goes with it, or by being completely obstructionist while the minority in Congress, as they loudly accuse the Democrats today. It has all led to today's bad situations. It is time for a change.
And, like Joe Garcia, it is time to act.
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