Opinion: Andrew Gillum, born to make history

By Gustavo Azócar Alcalá (*)

Things are not going very well for Donald Trump. On November 6, the President of the United States will face his first electoral battle since his arrival at the White House in January 2017. According to nearly all surveys, Trump will lose the majority in the House of Representatives, and a significant number of seats in the Senate.

But that’s not all. Trump is about to lose a Republican electoral stronghold. The State of Florida, one of the most important electoral regions, controlled by Republicans since 1999, could be governed for the first time by an Afro-American: Andrew Gillum, a progressive Democrat who leads among likely voters in the Florida Governor’s election, is four points ahead of Republican competitor Ron DeSantis, who has the backing of the President.

Trump knows he will lose the governorship of Florida. This explains his shameless attack against Gillum, mayor of Florida’s capital city Tallahassee since 2014. DeSantis’ campaign team, using the same attack techniques as Trump, has said that Gillum is a “socialist” and has planted the rumor that if Gillum becomes governor, that he will convert Florida into a second Venezuela.

This is the most ridiculous thing I have heard in my life. Whoever says this definitely does not know Venezuela. The problem in Venezuela has nothing to do with socialism. In fact, in Venezuela there is no socialist government nor even anything resembling one. What there is, in Venezuela, is a gang of criminals, drug traffickers and corrupt military officers who took power in the wake of a coup d’état in 1992. These criminals who so badly govern my country are not socialists: they are killers, thieves, money launderers and cocaine traffickers who hide behind a supposed leftist ideology in order to commit their misdeeds.

Andrew Gillum is “a liberal Democrat in the classic sense, one of those who favors an active government to correct social ills”, according to Eduardo Gamarra, political scientist at Florida International University. I don’t envision Gillum expropriating businesses, taking over farms, closing businesses, jailing journalists, trafficking drugs, or laundering money. That’s what the “leaders” of Venezuela do. And that is not socialism.

I do not personally know Andrew Gillum. I would have liked to meet him. If I lived in Florida, without a doubt I would be working in his electoral campaign. I couldn’t, because among other things, over a year ago, the Trump administration decided to take away the US visa I have had for over 20 years which allowed me to study and obtain a doctorate at the George Washington University in 2013. Maybe this is what Ron DeSantis was trying to say when he spoke to his daughter in a television advertisement: “Build a wall.” The Republican candidate wanted his daughter to believe that any person who comes from the outside is not a good person.

Maybe some Republicans are bothered by the humble origin of Andrew Gillum, who was born to a poor family in Miami. Gillum, the current mayor of Tallahassee, is the son of a bus driver and a construction worker. He is the only candidate for governor who is not a millionaire. Is this background some kind of crime, or an obstacle for becoming governor at this point?

Gillum’s campaign is progressive. His governmental program was designed thinking about workers, the majority of whom are fed up with wages too low to live on, much less pay for medical coverage. Some Republicans accuse Gillum of being a socialist. But Gillum is no socialist. He’s a progressive, which is different. If we had a progressive government in Venezuela, it would be a different story. But in Venezuela, there is no socialism. There is something much worse: militarism with populism, with drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime.

Thousands of professional, honest, decent Venezuelans could not enter the US because they couldn’t get a visa. But in Florida there are numerous corrupt and wealthy ex-Venezuelan officials and revolutionaries who enriched themselves in the murderous regimes of Chávez and Maduro, and now enjoy the profits of their crimes. Republicans have attacked Maduro hard, but have said little about the corrupt government associates, the “boliburgueses” who stole from all Venezuelans and now live in Florida. This is a job which Andrew Gillum should take on.

To fight for the rights of people is not socialist. It is being fair. Florida has among the lowest wages in the US. In Florida, people are being exploited; among them, millions of undocumented people, many from Venezuela. They fled Venezuela to escape from a military dictatorship supported by the Castro brothers and also with the support of Vladimir Putin, who helped Donald Trump win the presidency in 2016.

A survey by the University of North Florida, released some days ago, says that Gillum, a 39-year-old afro-American, mayor of Tallahassee, backed by the Democratic Party, has 47% support from potential Florida voters. This is compared to 43% for former Navy attorney, ex-Iraq soldier, ex-Representative Ron DeSantis.

10 percent of likely voters still haven’t decided who they will vote for in the governorship elections on November 6, coinciding with the midterm elections. According to the UNF survey, Gillum has the support of 85% of Democratic possible voters, but also 11% of Republicans.

I have read and heard, from Venezuela, almost all of Andrew Gillum’s speeches. These are not the speeches of a socialist, much less a communist. I don’t know where Trump and DeSantis get this idea that Gillum is a “failed socialist”.

What is most likely is that they are saying it to try to get a few points for DeSantis and other Republican candidates. It’s the same strategy they have used to attack the moderate and independent Senator Bill Nelson who was recognized by the Venezuelan community for his support of Venezuelan democracy; and who has called for stronger measures against Maduro.

But for those who know the real situation in Venezuela, the “socialism” line is not going to work. Andrew Gillum represents an historic change for Florida. The Democratic Party has not governed this state since 1999. When I see Gillum on television or on social media, I see in him some traces of many other afro-Americans who were also born to make history. Gillum reminds me of Mohammed Ali and Jackie Robinson. He was nominated as a candidate for governor of Florida on the anniversary date of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

But he also reminds me of Ruby Nell Bridges Hall, born September 8, 1954 in Tylertown, Mississippi. She was the first afro-American girl to attend a “white” school in 1960. Ruby caused a break with history. Something very similar will happen when Gillum reaches the governorship of the state of Florida.

(*)  Gustavo Azócar Alcalá was the first Venezuelan journalist imprisoned during Hugo Chávez Frias’ communist revolution in Venezuela. He was jailed on March 6, 2006 for denouncing the corruption of Chávez collaborators. Azócar was imprisoned for a second time in 2010, for his work as an investigative journalist. He was held for 8 months in a jail for regular prisoners. He has written 8 books. His most recent work is titled: Will the US Invade Venezuela? (¿Invadirá EEUU a Venezuela?)

As the world is watching a close election, Hillary Clinton should say: “Gracias, Sr. Trump”

clinton

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

Strategists on both sides of their political machines are going crazy—some of them secretly kicking their behind for the many years that they have said that Hispanics do not vote.  The years I heard: “Do not pay attention to them, do not do anything to attract them.  It is useless, they do not vote.” Some of those “politico aficionados” will pay the price for this.   According to Florida Election Voter Stats Guru, Dan Smith, Hispanic turnout in Florida is exceeding their voter turnout at this same time in 2012.

Latinos will be a key factor

The final voter registration numbers in Florida found on the Florida Division of Elections website show that there are 501,344 Hispanic Republicans, 737,589 Hispanic Democrats and 634,236 Hispanics with No Party Affiliation (Independents), which I like to call: the persuadables.  One candidate who will be affected is Florida U.S. Senate Candidate, Patrick Murphy who just started his Spanish ads a month ago.  It was suggested to him a year ago on how important the Latino vote was in this election.

Democrats may plan to make the  Puerto Rican “Coqui” Frog their national mascot

Going back to Clinton, According to stats found by Politico’s Marc Caputo, the Democratic presidential nominee has a 60 percent to 30 percent advantage over Trump with Florida Hispanics.  Thankful to the Boricua’s she must be!  Without Florida’s 29 Electoral College votes the presidential candidates can say good-bye to the “Casa Blanca” (White House).  Also, due to the Cuban-American conservative vote, her favorability numbers with Hispanics are lower here Than in other states.  The increase of Latino voters who are casting votes, is the moment where Hillary Clinton must thank the man that made this happen for her and say: “Gracias, Sr. Trump.”  An increase in Hispanics voting is based on the fear many Hispanics have that Trump be the next president.  It is a daily conversation and it is seen in the polls.

Democrats must be saying “Gracias a Dios” (Thank God) it was not Bilingual Marco Rubio as the many emails that WikiLeaks unveiled showed Democrats feared him as a presidential candidate, which was clear when Clinton named Rubio, and not the other 16 candidates in the beginning of the race.  Or possibly a candidate like Jeb Bush, with the right intentions, and his mother Barbara Bush who is loved by America and who says that she cannot understand how any woman could vote for Donald Trump.  At the end of the day, the election may be so close, I believe it will be decided by women and Independents.

TV Reality o Telenovelas?

However, we must analyze that when the average American watches 6-8 hours of television a day, didn’t we get what we wanted?  It was the charismatic man who has spent the entire election making us laugh, to then become concerned as others felt they were finally part of something.  Then we felt that we entered the Twilight Zone.  Then came the acceptance that our country would possibly be lead by a TV Reality Star and a man that in France they would see as “Le Americaine” who talks to them in English and asks them where there is a McDonalds, or a KFC in Paris.  Then all your friends in other countries who are constantly watching say to you that America is finally like the movie Idiocracy.  

trump-kfc

Lloro Por Ti, Republicano (I cry for you Republican)

My heart goes out to all of my Republican friends who cry themselves at night, as they see this beautiful dream of what a small government America would be with support for small businesses, as it gets trampled by talks about female parts and small hands. For those who wore the Reagan shirts with pride.  For those who have Abraham Lincon mugs that say: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”  I suggest that it is time to change those mugs this year to when Lincoln said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”  A lesson that our demographics will not change, and different cultural communities must be included and feel invited within the GOP.  According to the pollsters of Latino Decisions, 44% of Hispanics feel that the GOP is more hostile to them than the 22% that felt the same in 2012.  I believe all hope is not lost as we see a younger generations of Republicans being more lenient on LGBT issues or becoming more moderate.  If they can convince enough Republicans and Independents, they will be ok.

Some still have hope, as some intelligent fervent Hispanic Republicans will still vote for Trump, because for them there are higher points at stake like the security of this country, the Supreme Court Justice choices, their fear of “pay for play” in the White House, or they just really, REALLY dislike Hillary Clinton.  But there are other Republicans who are in the limelight, with mothers, wives, and daughters who must step aside or they will also be secretly punished in the ballot box by the women who vote more than men since 1980.

The Positives

As we look at the positives, we have been working for years for the 27 million Latinos who are eligible to vote to wake up.  This is the first year that those Latinos who told me that they did not care about politics, are in line to vote, to make a statement.  They send their pictures and they take their friends who did not want to vote.  It has opened the eyes of Muslim American communities who are targeted and hated as they pay the price for the work of the extremists in their religion.  Or the Asian-Americans who have suffered by the lack of educations of culture.  They have decided to come out.  To the Black vote that finally saw victory in 2008 with an African-American President becoming the leader of the United States of America, and know that racism is alive and must vote against it.  To the many White Anglo Saxons like my 70 year old father from Kentucky who has never asked me about politics, and questions the current rhetoric as he says to me: “But we are country of immigrants, we all come from everywhere.” For the women who have had to accept to be called a “minority” when females are 51% of the U.S. population and vote in higher numbers?  To the Republicans who are ashamed of what their party has become.  For all these different minority groups, vengeance is sweet, and it comes in the form of a secret ballot, which I believe will be the “adios” factor for Donald Trump.

Processed, not digested

Senior writer for Politico Magazine, Michael Grunwald recently quoted a millennial in South Florida who said he was undecided about who to vote for. His quote could describe something key felt by undecided eligible voters in America, but still not digested: “Adrian described the general election as choice between a woman who embodies everything wrong with politics and a man who embodies everything wrong with humanity.” This mass sentiment and voter turnout is showing the way.  Sorry, Mr.Trump, but these factors show you  will have to concede as you give a bow and end your performance.

As the world watches, the current momentum shows that Hillary Clinton will become the 45th and first female president of the most influential country in the world. It will not be easy.  It will be very tough after the damage this election has caused on America.   But key votes in key states point to her, no matter if we like it or not, and she has Donald Trump to thank.  Unless something completely unexpected happens in the next days that makes the white vote go vote in masses on Election Day, many minorities will wish they had voted as America elects Donald Trump.

Check out what JJ Rendon, a recognized political strategist in Latin America said in 2014 about Donald Trump:

Can it still happen?  In this election, we have learned that anything is possible.  Go out and vote, if not, someone will vote for you.  Do not take it for granted.

Florida Democratic Party Searching for a Bilingual Media Director

flademsBy Evelyn Perez-Verdia

Viva the FDP!  The day has come.  After a strong initiative from various leaders in Florida, The Florida Democratic Party has agreed on the importance of hiring  a communcations professional to serve as Press Secretary and Director of Hispanic Media for the 2016 campaign cycle.  Speaking further to Chairwoman Allison Tant about this position,  Political Pasion asked her if the position would continue past 2016.  Chairwoman Tant stated: “It will be ongoing after ’16 as long as we have the budget to fund it.  I am committed to see this happen.  So now put the word out so we have good applicants!”  In addition, the party has hired Sheyla Asencios as their Hispanic Outreach Coordinator and she will start working with the FDP starting September.  Samantha Pedrosa, has also joined the FDP team and started in their finance department yesterday.  Allison Tant ended by saying: “We are building a great team!”  Here are the details for those who wish to apply to the position:

The Florida Democratic Party is seeking communications professional to serve as Press Secretary and Director of Hispanic Media for the 2016 campaign cycle. 

This position will assist the communications director in the day-to-day responsibilities of the communications department and will oversee Spanish-language communication for the Party. This will include on-the-record conversations with local, state, and national media, and the drafting and translating of press releases, op-eds, and social media content.

The job will be based in South Florida with frequent travel to Tallahassee and statewide.

Responsibilities: 

  • Assist the communications director in day-to-day press responsibilities and rapid response
  • Develop relationship with Hispanic press outlets and reporters
  • Manage Spanish-speaking surrogates throughout Florida
  • Organize, pitch, and execute earned media events targeted at Hispanic media outlets
  • Write or translate press releases, op-eds, and social media posts
Qualifications: 
  • Fluency in Spanish (speaking, reading, and writing)
  • Experience with media, public relations, or journalism
  • Demonstrated exceptional

Please email resumes to Max Steele at msteele@fladems.com