During the past few weeks, family and friends have called or written about disproportionate attacks in the media on Republicans and the McCain campaign. The calls from family in South Florida have been especially interesting.
Most Americans of Cuban background are either first generation Americans or arrived in the United States from Communist Cuba. Those of us born and raised in the U.S., learned from our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends, how the left operates to take over political, legal, and economic systems. We learned from the hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, some who spent more than 20 years in prison – prisons that remain in operation to this day.
Contrary to Hollywood and New York Times revisionist history, Fidel Castro and his band of thugs did not magically take over the Cuban government by fighting a war. It was a carefully crafted deception. The road to Cuban Communism was paved many years before. With tacit support from the Soviet Union, the Cuban Revolution of 1959 hid its Communist credentials. The slaughter of innocents, the political prisons, and the torture chambers, came later.
That is how these people operated. And just because the Cold War came to a crashing end in 1989, except for Cuba, the international left did not. With the exception of most former eastern bloc countries, the international left has had a easy time of things in Europe. The United States has been a different story. A majority of Americans do not care for the politics of “government knows best.” God, Family, and Freedom are tough to break.
What does any of this have to do with the 2008 campaign? Unlike a majority of Americans that fortunately have never lived under a socialist or communist system, hearing the word “socialist” affixed to a major political party candidate or movement does not sound odd or off to Americans of Cuban ancestry. It is not a dirty word. It is what it is and, last we checked, the First Amendment was alive and well in this country.
Despite the confusion the media is trying to sow, neither McCain or Palin has called Barack Obama, or the more liberal element of the Democratic Party, socialists. The attack has been on the ideas that sound socialist. It is a fair argument.
“It’s not that I want to punish your success; I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you that they’ve got a chance to success, too. I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” said Barack Obama to a voter recently. That sounds like socialism to me. The government has no business “spreading the wealth around,” that is for individuals and the market place to decide in the marketplace of ideas.
Back in South Florida, it has not been that Barack Obama’s words to Joe the Plumber struck a nerve, but how they have reacted, or overreacted, to the recent volleys from the McCain campaign. One former political prisoner, who spent more than 15 years in Cuban political prisons, asked, “Why so sensitive? What do they have to hide? Just laugh it off or ignore it if it is not true. Did we strike a nerve?”.
Win or lose in two weeks, this campaign has been useful for Republicans, conservatives, and the nation. As Tony Blankley pens in today’s Washington Times, “The new conservative movement will be facing a political opponent that will soon reveal itself to be both multiculturalists and Euro-socialist. We will be engaged in a struggle to the political death for the soul of the country.” Ultimately Americans will reject Euro-Socialism, or a uniquely American variant.
When we Republicans focus on a battle of ideas that include less government, cutting taxes, and putting families and country first, we win. This does not mean just talking about it, but leading and doing consistent with these ideas. And if part of that process means calling out words that sound like socialist ideas or solutions, so be it. The American people get it. It is time for the Republican Party to do the same. Maybe the next leadership retreat should be held in South Florida, where political correctness is shunned, and where “socialism” is not a dirty word.