There is some heated online disagreement right now on the Right about what we ought to do and say about Cubans calling for the overthrow of their communist regime. Predictably, Republican Senators and Congressmen are calling for the Biden administration to stand with the Cubans against their tyrannical government.
As reported at Fox Business, Senator Ted Cruz last Thursday demanded that the White House do something: "We need the president, we need the administration to stand unequivocally with the men and women in Cuba and to stand against this illegitimate, corrupt, tyrannical, communist regime." Senator Marco Rubio is criticizing the Biden administration for its “lazy and meaningless response to a historic demand for liberty.” Florida Representative Mario Diaz-Balart made a video with Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw linking Dan Crenshaw’s military service “fighting for freedom” around the world to the urgent need to do something to free the Cuban people.
They’re all right of course at least on this point: the Cuban regime is tyrannical and has abused the Cuban people horribly for over half a century. It’s obvious and makes perfect sense, too, that many of these politicians are speaking on behalf of their Cuban-American constituents’ urgent desire to see regime change, finally, in Cuba. But they should understand the lens through which all of this is viewed by many on the Right.
My colleague and friend Dave Reaboi summarized the sentiment well on Twitter:
[I]f the GOP wasn’t so utterly useless when it comes to tyranny here at home—if this was 1984 rather than 2021–we’d all concern ourselves with Cuba, and the horrible regime that’s committed so many atrocities. But we’re not there. I am 1000% behind the Cuban people in their efforts to liberate themselves from the communist scum. I have refused to visit Havana, as I didn’t want to give even a dime to that awful regime. My anti-communist cred is second to none. But—GOP on Cuba now is nothing but old talking points on autopilot, from an America that no longer exists. Many generations of politicians practiced this messaging. It’s not that the anti-communist stuff is wrong—it’s right!—but they leave people with a bad taste in their mouths. If the accusation is that, “GOP politicians are nothing but unimaginative donors’ puppets with no idea what time it is,” few things are as illustrative of that as the total silence on things like the Jan6 political prisoners and woke capital + going on endlessly about Cuba. If you say, “let’s do BOTH,” I’m totally with you. But you know it’s just not happening. The politicians need to be slapped around by their voters; they need to be told: “No … this is more important. If you want to do that later, go ahead. Take the lead on this NOW.” GOP politicians have been trained, like dogs, that speaking up for the US citizen is the height of chauvinism. They sense that they can’t do that without getting slapped down by the media as racists, nationalists etc. They’ve so internalized this, they no longer even really try. They still have to say SOMETHING. So they pour their energy into one of the old, tired chestnuts. Something right off the decades-old script—even if it’s true and beautiful and we all believe it.
Sorry for such a long quote, but this needs to be broadcast far and wide as a PSA for all GOP politicians. This rah-rah rhetoric for foreign regime change is just tired—and mostly hot air. For one thing, it breaks Teddy Roosevelt’s old and sage advice against combining “the unbridled tongue with the unready hand.” Granted, the “hand” in question they have little control over, as it’s wielded by a hostile Biden administration.
But the cumulative effect of the aggressive and voluble cries from the GOP on the Cuba question is to give the impression to Trump-voting Republicans that while the Biden administration is aggressively pursuing counterterrorism and regime change against red America, the GOP is indifferent while advocating half-cocked intervention abroad (again). The Mario-Diaz/Crenshaw video was especially ironic. Representative Crenshaw may have thought at the time of his military service that he was “fighting for freedom” abroad, but the ill-conceived, strategically bereft, and ill-executed bipartisan foreign policy of the last 20 years has brought instead crippled veterans, misery, chaos, and the continued drawdown of American prestige.
And this leaves aside completely the fact that should the current ruling establishment at places like the State Department get their way with regime change in Cuba (if they even want such a thing), the result will be the trading of old school Marxism for woke cultural Marxism. The Cuba Communist flag will be replaced with the latest iteration of the LGBTQ rainbow flag.
All foreign policy is now domestic policy—and the current paragons of domestic policy are hostile to the American way of life and the common good. Countering, frustrating, and running off the corrupt American ruling class ought to be the sole business of patriotic politicians from dog catcher to high office in Washington. Set your own house in order first—before it collapses under its own weight and your lack of seriousness.