Trump, Biden and the Venezuelan Vote

By Cubaencuentro

Photos: EFE- Reuters- AFP

Will Venezuelans with US citizenship really make a difference in the race for the US presidency?

HAVANA TIMES – The presidential election has become a contentious issue for the community of Venezuelans in the United States. A population segment divided by the trauma suffered by their country of origin, reports the BBC.

Some support Trump because they fear his competitor for the Democratic Party, Joe Biden, will lead the US towards socialism. And that’s a word they fear after their experience with the so-called “21st century socialism” in Venezuela.

Others favor Biden because they believe that Donald Trump has displayed the same authoritarian and undemocratic features that they previously saw in Hugo Chavez and, even more, in his successor, Nicolas Maduro.

However, Biden is not a socialist and, rather, his political positions are seen as centrist.

“I defeated the Socialists. That’s how I got the nomination,” he said during an interview last month. He was referring to his rival in the Democratic primary, Senator Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a Democratic Socialist.

Sanders’ participation in the 2016 presidential campaign -when he contested the Democratic nomination with Hillary Clinton-, facilitated a public debate in the US on socialism.

Some of Sanders’ proposals, like expanding the health system to offer universal coverage, are popular among millennials in the US. They are policies that have existed for decades in democratic countries in Europe.

Within the Democratic Party there are leaders who belong to a movement called “Socialist Democrats”. Their most visible face is the young congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and some members consider themselves Marxists. 

A commie behind every tree

Trump uses figures like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez to present the Democratic Party as a platform for the extreme left to come to power. He assures that with Biden the “radical left” would arrive at the White House.

The severe crisis that Venezuela suffers led to an exponential increase in the number who migrated to the United States. They settled mostly in Florida during the last decade, giving this community growing importance in the presidential elections.

According to the Pew Research Center, Venezuelans are one of the fastest growing Latino migrant communities in the United States.

By 2018, Pew estimated that there were about 492,000 Venezuelans in the US. This implies an increase of 529% from the 93,000 who already resided there in 2000.

Mark Hugo Lopez, director of demographic research and global migration at the Pew Center, spoke with BBC Mundo. He said there are some 169,000 Venezuelans with the right to vote. People that took up US citizenship and are of voting age.

Both candidates are highly criticial of Maduro

Both Trump and Biden try to attract these potential voters with harsh criticism of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. They both describe him as a dictator.

But, in the end, how important is the vote of Venezuelans really in the November elections?

Fernand Amandi, an expert in the study of the Latino vote in the United States, points out that the number of Venezuelan voters is not large enough to have an impact in terms of the national vote. However, he believes they could be decisive in Florida, where there are approximately 50,000 Venezuelans registered to vote.

“When you think about the history of Florida, a state that decided the presidency 20 years ago by a difference of 537 votes, any subgroup of voters can be decisive. The Venezuelan vote like any other in Florida could decide who wins the state and the White House,” explains Amandi.

According to a survey by the University of North Florida, released in early September by the Miami Herald, although Biden surpassed Trump in the state as a whole, two out of three Venezuelan voters in Florida favored the current president.

Given the fierce competition, we must wait until after the elections to evaluate if that Venezuelan vote makes a difference.  

Read more news from Latin America here.

2 thoughts on “Trump, Biden and the Venezuelan Vote

  • The problems of a two party as compared with a multi-party political system are self evident. The author explains when writing about the Democratic Party, that “some members consider themselves Marxist”. Sanders describes himself as a socialist, but is a virulent opponent of communism. The Marxists could join the United States Communist Party and Sanders could form a Socialist Party – the difficulty is that neither would win a single seat in the US Congress, so they are virtually obliged to join the Democratic Party in order to participate in politics at state or national level.

    It is noteworthy that Biden said in the Presidential debate, that he “defeated” the socialists when winning the Democratic Party nomination.

    Similarly, where do the extreme right go in the US ? Obviously they burden the Republican Party which has under President Trump pandered to such extremists as it wants to increase its vote – even if the majority of Republicans oppose such people. Former Republican Presidents – both the Bush ones as examples – have deplored the far right extremists.

    A similar problem faces those who would in a multi-party system, form a Green Party.
    In the Multi-party systems those described smaller political groups do form parties and do get elected at both regional and national levels. In the UK, a communist succeeded in being elected – Willie Gallacher. In Canada the Green Party is represented at both provincial and national levels, they can and do have a voice.

    The multi-party system can however, have difficulties if proportional representation is introduced, as it encourages a multitude of minor-interest groups, to pose as parties. The system used to permit a voice for such tiny groups running as individuals in national elections – in the UK, the Raving Loony Party, represented by Screaming Lord Sutch as an example.

    Elected Presidents as Heads of State, almost without exception, are within months of election, disliked by a majority of the electorate – that because they are partial, being obliged to lead their parties. Although irrational and archaic, the system of Constitutional Monarchies has advantages, in that the Head of State is non-political and “above” politics. Examples include Holland, Sweden, Denmark and the UK. Even the far left in the UK would prefer the Queen, to having President Johnson. Of course there are those who decry the Constitutional Monarchy system, but, they similarly are usually in the forefront in attacking elected presidents, in supposed resistance to authority, yet supporting totalitarian dictators – providing that they are communist!

    In suggesting that a relatively mere handful of Venezuelan ex-patriats could influence the results of the national election in a nation of over 330 million people the author exposes the weakness of the US two-party system. It is obviously preferable to totalitarian rule, but leaves much to be desired.

    If the Democratic Party wins the Presidency and majority in Congress, and although having a substantial majority of the national vote as indeed it had in the 2015 Presidential election, it could still be blocked in efforts to introduce legislation by the Senate – even if only by a Republican majority of one. The Senate denied the Obama administration much of its objectives. Then there is the Supreme Court!

    Where is the American contributor who can help we others, by explaining the advantages of the US political system?

  • Venezuelan people stand with Biden! Via Venezuela! Viva Cuba!! Viva USA!!!

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