JOE GARCIA-- BRINGING A PROGRESSIVE APPROACH TO SOUTH FLORIDA
So. Florida Democratic candidate Joe Garcia with his parents, his wife and his daughter
Over the last few days there's been a netroots discussion about why Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, co-chair of the DCCC committee charged with turning red districts blue, has refused to help the 3 credible Democrats running against 3 hard-right Bush rubber stamps in her south Florida neighborhood. One of those candidates, Joe Garcia, is a progressive reformer who is likely to be endorsed by Blue America because of his stands on a wide array of issues important to his district and to progressives across the country. One issue that differentiates Joe from Debbie and her 3 right-wing Republican cronies is Cuba. He wants to start the process of modernizing the relationship and end the recently passed travel restrictions and allow for family remittances; she wants to keep the law the way it is. I asked Joe to introduce himself to DWT readers this morning and talk a little bit about some of the changes he envisions and the problems he faces from the extreme right-wingers of the Republican Party in South Florida, extremists that Wasserman Schultz tacitly backs.
FL-25: FIGHTING McCARTHYISM IN 2008
by Joe Garcia
Days before I launched my campaign, my opponent tried to pre-empt my announcement by calling me a Castro-sympathizer and portraying my candidacy as a secret plot by communists to overthrow him from Congress. These suggestions have been repeated numerous times by my opponent on right-wing talk radio stations. Frankly, they get away with these ridiculous accusations because the media, once again has dropped the ball. As I have always stated, the Netroots are the courage of the Democratic Party. Together, we must push back against these red-baiting, fear-mongering, McCarthyist attacks.
We’ve seen these disgusting Republican tactics here in South Florida for a quarter century. This wasn’t always the case, however. Cuban-Americans traditionally voted Democratic before the 1980 election. In 1980, the Reagan campaign effectively targeted Cuban-Americans in a new way. They enabled local Cuban-American leaders to design a Spanish-only campaign geared specifically towards Cuban-Americans. This campaign preyed upon the real suffering of victims of the Castro regime and accused Democrats of being communist enablers and used John F. Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs as examples.
Essentially, the 1980 election had Cuban-American Republicans talking directly to Cuban-Americans, in their native language, calling Democrats communist. Democrats countered with a typical campaign designed in Washington, DC. Republicans were talking with Cuban-Americans. Democrats were talking at them.
Things have not changed much since 1980. For example, in 2004 Republicans sent a Spanish language ad-piece that showed John Kerry together with Fidel Castro and warned:
"November 2nd is the last day for you to stop John Kerry and his communist friends."
It also stated ridiculous and incendiary comments such as: “Fidel Castro has no better friend in the US Senate than John Kerry,” and “While Ronald Reagan fought against communism, John Kerry was dedicated to forming alliances with friends of Fidel Castro like Daniel Ortega.”
You might think this add piece came from some obscure 527 group. But no, it actually came from the RNC and was authorized by Bush-Chaney ’04.
My pro-Democracy in Cuba credentials are solid. Before my opponent was in the Florida State Legislature I was marching and meeting with US lawmakers in DC advocating for democratic change in Cuba. This, however, will not stop them from disparaging my record. Similar to how they attacked national heroes like Max Cleland and John Kerry for being unpatriotic, they will try to label me as a communist sympathizer.
This, however, will not work for them in 2008.
I’ve been challenging the Republican demagoguery machine for years.
I led the Exodus Project which reunited over 10,000 families scattered throughout the world and fought against the Bush/Diaz-Balart family restrictions. My position is clear. Cubans are not part of the problem; they are part of the solution. We need to put control back into the hands of the Cuban people to make Democracy in Cuba possible. The time to act responsibly is now. We must end the demagoguery about Cuba and allow the wishes of the constituents of the 25th district to prevail.
I’m going to fight back against these Republican fear tactics in this campaign and I’m going to offer a responsible way forward. Together we will end the conventional style of foreign policy thinking in Washington. We must unite around common sense solutions that lead to progress. In this campaign we will reach out to the people of the 25th district on a grassroots level to offer a progressive alternative.
Let me also state that while Cuba is an important issue in District 25, it is not the only issue. It should not distract us from the 14,500 children who today don’t have health care because my opponent voted against expanding SCHIP. We should not be distracted from the degradation of the Everglades and the environment while my opponent has accumulated a shameful 10% rating by the League of Conservation Voters. We will not let demagoguery distract us from the brave men and women who have performed their duty in Iraq and deserve a safe and responsible return home. We will not be distracted from my opponent’s rubber stamping of George Bush’s assault on our Constitutional rights.
Cuba will be an important issue, but we cannot allow it to be used as a political tool to vilify, scare and distract. I especially need you, the Netroots to help us fight back against the shameful, despicable, red-baiting tactics of my opponent. I would be humbled if you would join our campaign to take them on.
With gratitude for everything you do to make a difference,
Please consider helping Joe-- even if the DCCC won't. He is trying to reach a goal of 1,000 individual contributions-- regardless of amount-- by March 31st. You can donate directly at his website or at ActBlue. And if you're in south Florida, please consider signing up as a volunteer for his campaign.