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Political experts usually take it for granted that the vast majority of Latinos will vote for Democrats, yet the 2020 election provided further evidence of the folly of this assumption.
While Biden did carry some areas with large Latino populations, Latino votes for Trump increased dramatically. The primary reason for this? One word — socialism.
Many Latinos have either personally experienced or heard stories from their parents about the dangers and realities of socialism and communism in nations such as Cuba and Venezuela.
Despite Joe Biden’s claim that he “beat the socialist” during the primaries, referring to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., many Latino voters still considered Biden’s talk and actions a little too reminiscent of other socialist leaders they’ve known.
Tony Suarez, chief operating officer of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and a member of Trump’s faith advisory board, told the Christian Post, “I was in Venezuela 20 years ago. The government there was promising to give you this and that, and now they’re dying of starvation. Socialist government wants to take over every part of your life.”
It did not help that Biden chose for his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who has been called the most liberal member of the Senate. On the day before the election, Harris actually put out a cartoon video that touted the Marxist principle of “equality of outcome” and was slammed for its implications. In response, Jorge Masvidal, a Cuban-American mixed martial arts fighter, tweeted: “This is right out of the Cuban communist manifesto.”
Suarez explained that it wasn’t just Biden’s stated policies that concerned some Latino voters, it was what he didn’t say.
As an example, Biden didn’t seem fazed by the protests and riots that raged across the country in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, leading to statues being toppled, businesses destroyed, and Trump supporters attacked by Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and other left-wing activists — even in Washington, D.C., on the closing night of the Republican National Convention.
Biden and campaign supporters either justified these actions or pretended that they didn’t exist. And some, including legislators like Harris and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., even encouraged the behavior, both verbally and by calling on people to contribute to bail funds for rioters and looters.
But Venezuelans were appalled and highly concerned. That’s because during the early reign of socialist leader Hugo Chávez, Venezuelans experienced much of the same street violence, censorship, and social chaos.
“I have already lived through this thing when I was living in Venezuela,” Elizabeth Rogliani, a Latino actress who immigrated to the United States, warned in a viral video. “Statues came down, Chávez didn’t want the history displayed. And then he changed the street names, then came the curriculum [in schools], then some movies couldn’t be shown on certain TV channels. And so on, and so forth…. Venezuelans recognize the signs of a communist takeover better than almost anyone.”
It seems that many Latino voters in the United States did take heed. Their concerns about the rise of socialism in the U.S. were felt strongly in Florida cities such as Doral, which has a large number of Venezuelans. In 2016, Trump won only 22 percent of the votes in Doral, but in 2020 he won over 50 percent. A Pew Research study found that from 2008 to 2018 the number of eligible Venezuelan voters in Florida rose by 184 percent.
While Democrats are pleased with Biden’s performance with Latinos in Arizona, he is thought to have underperformed with Latinos in Texas and Florida. Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said, “The Democrats cannot take Latinos for granted. I think Biden missed a grand opportunity to have been able to carry both Florida and Texas. If he had just invested in the Latino community more, if he had delivered the correct message. The numbers that we’ve seen out of Miami-Dade is he got 250,000 less Latino votes than Hillary Clinton got.”
NPR reported that while Hillary Clinton won Miami-Dade County, “where 7 out of every 10 residents are Hispanic” by 30 percentage points, Biden won the county by just 7 percentage points.
In addition to Miami-Dade, areas like Zapata County in Texas showed Democrats had a messaging problem, according to Garcia, who said:
“It went from Hillary to Trump. Why? Because the issues of law and order are impacting Latinos quite a bit. For example, a lot of the border patrol, law enforcement are heavily Latino in the Rio Grande Valley. So when you are talking about defunding the police, and you don’t stand up to those types of rhetoric, then it leaves an opening for Republicans to come in and take advantage of that.”
Election results are not finalized yet, but win or lose, the Democrats have a problem with what they have long viewed as one of their strongest voting demographics. Latinos are not a monolithic group that will automatically vote Democrat. The party’s choice to embrace socialist policies has hurt them with many Latinos.
It isn’t just policy, however; the party’s rhetoric has consequences too. Having high-profile members like Ocasio-Cortez and the “Squad” and allowing mob rule to reign may win them popularity in certain circles, but Democrat’s unabashedly socialist and anti-law enforcement statements and actions make them odious in the eyes of many Americans — especially Latinos, who know what really happens to freedom and quality of life when a socialist government takes control.
Check out the Falkirk Center podcast with Dinesh D’Souza on socialism: