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A victimizing treatment of the Hispanic community, exaggerated and insulting reductionism and an absolute absence of self-criticism are just three of the factors that have left Florida’s Democratic Party adrift. Hispanics now embrace the Republican Party and political leaders such as Governor Ron DeSantis or former President Donald Trump. One of the clearest examples of such flaws is Nikki Fried, agriculture commissioner and gubernatorial candidate.
Commissioner Fried, one of the leading Democratic contenders, has a big problem reaching out to the Hispanic vote. Her condescending message towards the Latino voter does not resonate (polls show the Hispanic electorate virtually tied). Her attacks on Governor DeSantis, calling him a “dictator” and comparing his administration to the worst Latin American regimes, seem more offensive to the community than a sound campaign strategy.
Just think about it: what would a Cuban, Venezuelan or Nicaraguan —who know exactly what it’s like to live under socialism– think of a politician who tries to tell them that Florida looks like a dictatorship? Best case scenario, they will think that whoever makes such statements are not in their right mind. In the worst case, that they are trying to manipulate them.
Fried, as unwise as it may seem, runs that style of campaign. She called DeSantis a “communist autocrat” and compared the Florida State Guard —a 200-man force re-established by the governor to deal with emergency situations such as landslides or natural disasters— to the colectivos or the murderous paramilitary forces of Nicolás Maduro and the FARC terrorists.
This comparison wasn’t just hers. Other Democratic leaders, such as former congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Charlie Crist, also a blue candidate for governor, were encouraged to use it actively on social networks.
Most Hispanics know DeSantis is not a communist dictator and that the state guard volunteers are not armed colectivos that persecute, torture and murder political dissidents. Cuban-Americans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans who suffered from these paramilitary forces know it; Colombians who suffered from guerrilla atrocities are aware of this too.
Why do Democrats, then, insist on using this narrative? For Daniel Garza, executive director of The Libre Initiative, Fried’s intentions are cynically political, as she knows her comparisons are unsubstantiated, but she still uses them to try to generate electoral gains.
For Garza, portraying DeSantis as a dictator has the objective of “getting voters to reject him for supposedly being a preponderant who threatens our freedoms.”
“This practice of assassinating the character of your opponent —based on lies— only serves to divide the people, provoke the anger of the electorate and undermine our democracy. It is despicable to play this disgusting game for political self-interest. Fried is shown to be divisive and false, which does not deserve to be taken seriously,” said Garza.
It is curious that the Democrats are using this electoral technique, since they were the ones who criticized former President Trump for using the rhetoric of socialism and communism during the 2020 presidential campaign. Basically, they seek to replicate the Republican technique they criticized to stop the Hispanic electoral drain, but ignoring the fact that the GOP has basic conservative principles that coincide with the Latino voter on religious, security and economic issues.
The bogeyman used by Nikki Fried and her Party
As Hispanics are massively joining Republicans, the Democratic Party decided to exploit the its classic excuse in times of unpopularity: misinformation.
For the Democrats, if Hispanics are leaving with the GOP, it is not because they agree on economic and security policies, or because they value more the party that respects the free market, private property and seeks to reduce taxes, but because of “misinformation” and “manipulation.”
This was Fried’s point, who was questioned about the GOP’s “significant advance” among Latinos in Florida: “That’s precisely the point. Latinos have been deceived over what they do for them (…) this far-right political party. When in reality is Democrats who are standing up for their liberties, rights, for their chance to succeed in their state, in our country.”
“They come here looking for a better way of life and instead you have this radical rhetoric from the radical right of our state, particularly governor DeSantis, who has been doing things you see had been done in other Latin-American countries. You know, this governor has walked away from the principles of the free market, attacking companies because the decisions they thought were correct.”
Just as Fried accuses the GOP of manipulating Latinos, Democrats in the state, like Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, have waged a major crusade against conservative talk radio and alternative media that don’t follow the liberal mainstream media narrative, branding them as “misinformers.”
In several media outlets, in fact, one can see articles accusing conservative radio stations in Miami of being a danger to the Hispanic community “because of their lies” and a risk to democracy. Such pieces have been used via social networks by Democratic representatives and former congressmen to ask the federal government, through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to intervene these stations that are uncomfortable for the Democratic Party.
For Giancarlo Sopo, a conservative Cuban-American political strategist, this rhetoric used by the Democrats only shows that the blue party doesn’t respect Hispanic voters and considers them incapable of fending for themselves, of knowing when a politician is manipulating them or even knowing what is in their best interests.
“If you look at how Democrats address minority communities, it’s clear that they think they are entitled to our votes and don’t respect us as fully capable individuals,” Sopo told El American. “That’s why they address minorities as if we are victims and their policies invariably try to create codependency.”
When asked particularly about Fried, Sopo said that “for many leftists, politics is a pseudo-religion” and that “Fried is incapable of recognizing that many Latinos don’t share his values or beliefs, because doing so invites introspection and leads to cognitive dissonance.”
“As a narcissist, she’s incapable of this, so to avoid facing hard truths she concludes that the real problem must be with Latino voters, not her, which is the obvious answer,” Sopo pointed out.
On misinformation, Sopo added that “it is the new excuse invoked by Democrats to explain their losses with Latino voters.”
“The problem for them is that it’s not convincing and it doesn’t answer why Hispanics are abandoning the Democratic Party in droves right now,” the strategist said. “There has been misinformation in all ethnic communities for years, none of this is new. In fact, among Hispanics, the main sources of bias and misinformation are actually the Spanish-language left-wing networks, whose audiences are orders of magnitude larger than the Hispanics who are the subject of misleading memes on WhatsApp.”
For the Cuban-American, the most dangerous disinformation comes from the big hegemonic media, mostly linked to liberal-progressive ideas.
“They are much more harmful because we are not talking about crazy Aunt Carmen disinforming, but about people who pretend to be objective journalists who are actually left-wing activists, presenting misleading information.”
The future for Nikki Fried and the Republican Party
There’s something that the GOP has figured out to capitalize on Hispanic dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party. However, it is also true that Democrats are doing their best to alienate Latinos from their ranks by using unpopular terms like “Latinx” or promoting economic and social policies that disenchant an electorate that basically fled the statist policies of Latin American governments.
The GOP, nonetheless, still has a lot of work to do, at least for Daniel Garza and Giancarlo Sopo, who believe the party has a good chance of winning the Hispanic vote for good.
“Republicans should continue to detail and strive to advance a pro-growth, pro-energy and pro-freedom agenda. It is not enough that the opposition is disappointing the electorate with poor results, but also to communicate the alternative ideas that the Republican Party is promoting to reverse the current condition,” Garza told El American. “What the Party is doing well is that it has gotten better at connecting with the community and doing a better job of communicating what the party is proposing on economic, education and health issues.
For Sopo, “Republicans have made a lot of progress with Hispanics,” but it’s not enough.
“We have seen the party, both nationally and through various campaigns, make investments in Florida, Texas and Virginia that are paying off. However, more work and consistency is needed,” the strategist said. “For example, I think the California Republican Party’s lack of outreach to Hispanics during last year’s recall elections was disappointing and a huge missed opportunity.”
While in California the Republicans are lagging behind, this year in Florida they will have a great opportunity to make a splash and enshrine their power in the midterms and gubernatorial elections. The future of the Democratic Party, and Fried’s in general, is not looking good at all in the polls and Giancarlo Sopo ironized what may come to pass with the current agriculture commissioner.
“In the case of Nikki Fried, she may not want to prosecute now that she is an unattractive candidate to many Hispanics, and so she resorts to condescension, but reality will eventually catch up with her when Governor DeSantis is re-elected,” Sopo said. “But even then, who knows? She may spend the next few years pretending to be the legitimate governor of Florida. Think of a hybrid between Stacey Abrams and Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond with Rebekah Jones’ conspiratorial madness sprinkled on top-simply delightful.”
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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