A few weeks back I wrote an article stating my belief that one of the biggest issues Republicans have with President Obama (aside from the pigment of his skin) is that he’s simply too intelligent for most conservatives to understand. He often thinks “big picture” and years down the road, while many conservatives can’t understand a talking point unless it fits on a relatively small bumper sticker.
And when it comes to his decision to end the decades long and outdated policies by which the United States deals with Cuba, his intelligence was on full display again.
First, let’s be honest. The vast majority of conservatives couldn’t care less about this. Sure, they’ll pretend like they do, because Fox News tells them they need to be “outraged” – but I’m almost certain that at least half of (if not more) conservative voters couldn’t even accurately point to Cuba on a map. Besides, it’s really difficult to claim a moral high ground when it comes to foreign relations when the Bush family cites the Saudi royals as “close friends,” we rely heavily on China for damn near every product we use in this country and we’ve had “relationships” with far more questionable countries over the years.
These outdated policies on Cuba date back to the 60’s and the Cold War and make absolutely no sense in today’s world. Not only that, but most Latinos – especially younger ones – favor ending the embargo.
President Obama choosing to become more progressive about our relationship with Cuba exposed Republicans for what they are: Anti-minority.
See, President Obama knows that Republicans might talk a big game about immigration reform, but they really never plan on doing anything about it because they can’t. If they vote on some strict, tea party backed plan it’ll alienate just about every single Latino vote in every election. But if they embrace a more moderate immigration policy, one that offers a path to citizenship (the policy fools like Ted Cruz falsely call “amnesty”), then they’ll enrage their base and those supporting that plan would risk getting “primaried” the next time they have to run for re-election.
Though by moving forward on a new set of policies with Cuba, Obama has now forced Republicans to not only do what they always do (oppose anything he does), but now in that opposition they come off looking like anti-immigrant bigots and outdated relics from the 50’s and 60’s.
Because even Jeb Bush (a potential candidate the GOP feels can gain a lot of Latino support because he’s married to a Latino woman) had to come out and condemn this move. He had to. Sure, supporting it might gain him support in Florida, but it also hurts him in southern states he’ll need to win to secure the GOP nomination in 2016.
It’s a catch-22 for Jeb because by opposing this, he’s also weakened his support in Florida and comes off looking much more “typical Republican” when it comes to issues facing Latinos.
But there’s more. President Obama can’t lift many of these outdated embargoes without Congress. So now a soon to be Republican-controlled House and Senate will have to either get behind the president and move into the 21st century when it comes to Cuba – or oppose this move and make their entire party look outdated and anti-Latino.
So the way I see it is that this move by President Obama was absolutely brilliant. If Republicans oppose this (which they most likely will), their opposition will continue to paint their party in a negative light when it comes to issues of immigrations and dealing with the Latino culture. But even if they end up supporting it, their 2016 hopefuls must still oppose it because they have to pander to tea party conservatives who vehemently oppose anything that even resembles pro-immigration.
And when you get right down to it, with the 2016 presidential election approaching sooner rather than later, this move by President Obama might be what pushes the must-win state of Florida (which has a large Cuban population) right into the hands of the Democrats.