The U.S. Electoral College and Cuba

’08 Electoral College Map (Credit: Wikipedia)

Florida continues to be a critical swing state in the race for president and the likelihood that changes anytime soon is tiny.  So it is no surprise both political parties pander to groups in that state much more than others in order to ensure they don’t alienate people in the interest of winning important Electoral College votes and the executive office.  One of the most powerful groups, of course, is the Cuban population who desperately want to see the end of the Castro regime and want to see regime change happen quickly.  This sometimes makes for odd U.S. policy and statements.

Some of that oddness was highlighted Friday in a commentary posted  on Foreign Policy.  The first was a comment by President Obama that mirrors comments of previous presidents toward Cuba:

I assure you that I and the American people will welcome the time when the Cuban people have the freedom to live their lives, choose their leaders, and fully participate in this global economy and international institutions.

Yes, if Cuba would just choose to fully participate in the global economy they would be so much better off.  Great point by the American executive office holder.  I wonder why they don’t?…Oh, yeah.  It’s because the United States continues to vote against lifting the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba when it is brought up in the United Nations.  If only the President of the United States knew someone who could talk to the President of the United States to change his position on the trade embargo then the President of the United States could say Cuba has joined the global economy.  Too bad William Shatner’s Priceline negotiator died.  Maybe he could have solved this communication problem.  And because the U.S. is the world’s light for democracy, we show it off proudly by voting with the majority on those trade embargo votes.  A worldwide majority typically of…two or three countries.  Versus roughly 185.  I wonder where dictators around the world get their ideas about authoritarianism?

But the main argument of the commentary was the fact the U.S. is at odds with a Catholic Cardinal, Jaime Ortega, and others like him who believe change will come to Cuba but it will be slowly so the church should still do whatever it can, working with the regime, to help whoever possible.  Since the Cardinal has decided to stay in Cuba and do his work there, he does not appear to be as much of an ally as the well-financed exiles throwing stones from Florida.  So the U.S. government goes after him and his kind, as stated:

When the SFRC (Senate Foreign Relations Committee) discovered that USAID and State Department contractors and government-sponsored NGOs were running operations, including websites, against church leaders in 2010-2011, USAID said that the groups were merely “exercising their First Amendment rights”…The State Department and USAID have spent about $200 million on these programs over the past 10 years.

In other words, Cardinal Ortega, stop being Catholic.  Stop doing what Jesus would do.  It makes you look bad when you are helping all those people who need help.  I mean, for God’s sake!  Giving out food and medicine to the needy?  What’s this guy trying to do?  Show up FEMA?  How arrogant!

Ultimately, this all comes back to the Electoral College and the fact only certain states and certain groups within those states have so much say over U.S. policy.  It begs asking the question: what would Cuba and American policy toward Cuba look like if the Electoral College did not exist?  It’s an interesting hypothetical that is impossible to answer.  In all likelihood, the policy would have been the same during the Cold War years.  But would it have changed in the ensuing decades.  No one knows.

But we do know one thing.  If you are a minority group or an underrepresented majority looking to heavily influence U.S. policy in the interest of your people, there is only one thing for you to do.  Move to a swing state where you would actually matter because living anywhere else in this “democracy” doesn’t seem to be as important to the decision makers in government.

New tactic, Occupy Wall Street!  Try Occupying Ohio and see what happens!

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