Earlier this month I attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference hosted by the National Association of Independent Schools. In the virtual conference, we discussed numerous issues in the United States’ treatment of minorities, especially in 2020. A part of the conference divided participants into different affinity groups. There were spaces for almost every demographic: African American, Jewish, White, Southeast Asian, etc. I joined the Latinx group, hesitant because I have never been that in touch with my Mexican and Cuban roots. After a couple of days in the space, I got to know people on the zoom call. There was a comfort I had never felt before in speaking to other people who have similar roots as my family. Many Latin Americans in the United States have dealt with some sort of trauma at one point in their family history. Nations such as El Salvador, Venezuela, Cuba, or Guatemala that have suffered in recent history produce much of America’s diverse Hispanic population.
During the 2020 election, the Hispanic voter turnout was higher than ever before. Different organizations such as Phone2Action, whose goal was to mobilize Latino voters online, or Voto Latino, who tried to engage young Latinos, had an impact on the upward trend of Hispanic voting. With more Hispanics voting, it is time for U.S. politicians to stop treating Hispanic Americans as a single, homogeneous, voting demographic. Depending on one’s age and family background, each Hispanic will vote differently. The first example that comes to mind is my own Cuban family. I often criticize them for being close-minded and hypocritical when it comes to supporting candidates who are against immigration, but conversations with them have taught me that they genuinely fear the rise of socialism in the United States. To them, socialism reminds them of Fidel Castro, who completely uprooted them from their home and culture. They had to flee their long-time home, watch friends die, and completely start a new life. The same argument can go for Venezuelans today. Many people use the “Venezuela argument” against Democratic Socialists like Bernie Sanders and many people criticize the use of that argument. I agree with the criticism of the right-wing argument stating that Sanders would create a country as corrupt as Venezuela because someone like Bernie Sanders is not Nicolas Maduro, and the United States has more checks in place to prevent such a leader from rising. There is not a history of corruption and overwhelming trust of the military over the government in the U.S. like there is in many Latin American countries. Bernie Sanders claims his policies are more like the high taxes of Scandinavian countries rather than the true socialist model of seizing the means of production like in Venezuela. While Sanders’ claims are debatable, there is no fair way to compare him to the cruel leaders that many Latin Americans fled. The anti-socialist rhetoric used in the 2020 election was simply a way for Republicans to justify another Trump presidency.
“Radical Leftist,” President Trump called President-elect Biden a “puppet of the radical left” more times than one can count. It is no wonder that Biden won by a slimmer margin in Miami-Dade than Hillary Clinton in 2016. Clinton beat Trump 63.2 to 33.8 percent while Biden only led by 53.3 to 46 percent. Treating Hispanics as a single demographic is dangerous, and when Republicans campaign on anti-socialist platforms, they are more effective than Democrats who do nothing to counteract their campaign strategy. Throwing around the word “socialism” should not be as effective as it is. However, the Left should also stand in solidarity with Hispanics—regardless of where their support lies. Issues like immigration are often in the spotlight for a few days before fading away in new media. Another issue of solidarity comes from figures like Bernie Sanders, Karen Bass, and even the Black Lives Matter organization for praising figures like Fidel Castro or the Nicaraguan Sandinista regime. When Castro died, Rep. Karen Bass and the BLM organization publicly displayed their sorrow for his death. Personally, I can see past a single comment and I will continue to support and donate money to the Black Lives Matter movement, however those comments are daggers to older Cubans still traumatized from the Castro regime. The Left cannot stand for current immigrants who are fleeing corrupt countries and disregard the voices of past immigrants.
It is time to understand Latin Americans as a diverse population with multiple opinions and backgrounds. While the Trump administration regularly engages in authoritarian tactics based off fear and intimidation, the Left should not have remained complicit and chosen when to support minorities and when not to.