News & Politics

The Democrats' Schizophrenia on Cuba

AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

In the 1950s and ’60s, the Democratic Party was strongly anti-Communist. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson sent half a million men to Vietnam to fight a war against them, and Kennedy almost blew up the world when Russia placed nuclear missiles in Cuba.

Even liberal internationalist Democrats were rabid anti-Communists. Then, in the 1970s, with the rise of George McGovern and the “New Left,” many activist Democrats decided that maybe Communism wasn’t so bad after all. They adopted the rhetoric of “revolution” in the fight against racism, sexism, and the establishment. Even the collapse of Communism in the late 1980s failed to dissuade younger Democrats from their infatuation with Communism.

Today, those activists control the Democratic Party. And Joe Biden is forced to walk a tightrope between his instincts as an old-fashioned anti-Communist moderate Democrat and the radical, frothing-at-the-mouth Democratic Party base that’s backing the repressive Communist Cuban government.

Biden made some pointed criticisms of the Cuban government in his press conference following an Oval Office meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but Biden still won’t allow Cuban refugees into the U.S. and he’s only considering whether to use the technology at our disposal to turn the internet back on in Cuba.

NPR:

Biden called Cuba a “failed state” that is “repressing its citizens.” The country has seen recent demonstrations due to food shortages and high prices amid the pandemic.

The president also said the U.S. is considering whether it has the “technological ability to reinstate” internet access that has been restricted for Cubans.

“Communism is a failed system—a universally failed system. And I don’t see socialism as a very useful substitute. But that’s another story,” he said. Indeed, Biden wanted to change the subject because he’s already hearing it from the radicals. Bernie Sanders — and most of the left — doesn’t blame Communism for the disastrous state of the Cuban economy. They blame the U.S. embargo.

Sanders can’t bring himself to categorically criticize the oppression.

He just can’t help himself.

The Democratic Party’s schizophrenia regarding Cuba may cost them at the polls, according to Matt Lewis.

Cuba is a wedge issue, and if you doubt this issue still resonates, think again. One of the reasons Biden became the Democratic nominee was Bernie Sanders’ past praise for Fidel Castro. Likewise, California Rep. Karen Bass’s 2016 praise of Castro (“the passing of the Comandante en Jefe is a great loss to the people of Cuba”) helped scuttle talk of her being Biden’s running mate. She walked that back in 2020, but it was too little and too late to resuscitate her vice presidential ambitions.

Black Lives Matter issued a horrific statement, covered by PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neill, that not even radical activists from the 1970s would have dared utter.

“Black Lives Matter condemns the U.S. federal government’s inhumane treatment of Cubans and urges it to immediately lift the economic embargo,” it reads. Is that why Cubans are massing in the streets of Havana and other cities?

Some of the radicals truly believe America is to blame. For others, it’s a political calculation. “There’s a concern by some in the party that if we condemn what happens in Cuba that we’re somehow making a moral judgment on the most progressive elements of our party who have described themselves as Democratic socialists,” Javier Fernandez, a former Democratic state representative who is the son of exiles, told Caputo. “That concern about offending certain progressive elements in the party is why you see statements of the kind from the likes of Congressman Meeks.”

It’s just not cool to be anti-Communist when you’ve been running around the country singing its praises. But how is that kind of talk playing in Florida?

Squeezing Biden and the Democrats from the other direction, many Floridians are emotionally invested in these Cuban protests. “‘Where is Biden? Where is Biden,’ shouted Cuban-American demonstrators Tuesday in Tampa,” according to theMiami Herald.

Biden has retreated to his basement — both physically and morally. He figures his best bet is to try and straddle the issue by talking out of both sides of his mouth. Expect Biden to speak regretfully of the U.S. embargo in the next 48 hours to assuage the hurt feelings of his radical base.

It won’t help the Cuban people, of course, but it will play well on TV.