HAVANA — A politician’s magic touch is knowing where and how to touch the citizens’ fiber, or an important part of it. If it’s a well-known and talented politician, the point to which he alludes forms a triangle: a fair decision — popular satisfaction — personal pride.
“For those 20 million people, their lives have been better. We have set a standard of what’s possible that people can then build on,” the former president declared in Berlin, referring to Obamacare, which he described as his “greatest pride.”
Now those 20 million Americans are facing the likely destruction of a benefit so welcome by everyone: health care, a human right.
Trumpcare, which passed in the House and is pending in the Senate, could wipe out that measure, leaving millions standing across the street from any hospital or health-care service.
Social satisfaction and his “greatest pride,” Obama said. True enough. But now, on the table of the current government lies a budget where the social aids of different types, which also satisfy the needs of citizens, are about to be slashed. One example: the food stamps on which millions of Americans depend.
How will those affected by health and nutrition act during the mid-term elections in 2018? Let me cite two examples.
I think that Obama — the politician who has not ceased to be one — sees a major probability to alter the relationships in power in one of the two legislative bodies, based precisely on Trump’s falsehoods and mistakes. And by touching on one, health care, he places on people’s mind and concern the rest of the trims that come in the budget of the new occupant of the White House, a package that has already been divulged by the media.
Why, it’s as if someone filled in the holes in one of his golf courses.
Perhaps this perception (not the only reason) led him to issue the May 20 statement on Cuba, a practice that was quite common among his predecessors. In this case, touching on Cuba is the equivalent of touching on Florida, an important state for every electoral process, now for the upcoming mid-term elections, possibly the ones with the greatest weight in the past several years.
The main objective of that little statement, it seems to me, was not the island but to prompt the right-wing Cuban-American sector, a recalcitrant and moneyed lot, to involve itself fully in that competition. Because they’re going to need money in Scrooge McDuck amounts.
In Florida, three Cuban-American members of Congress are up for re-election: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Díaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo. But Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen is no longer in the running and in her district, the 27th, Hillary Clinton won. Candidates for that seat have already appeared and new candidacies may be forthcoming.
It turns out that in that district, which I’m taking as an example, with a Democratic majority (35.7 percent), Republicans represent 32.8 percent and unaffiliated voters account for 29.7 percent. The latter could be considered as the “non-party” with the greatest growth in recent years. It includes many from the latest waves of Cuban-Americans, a good number of Latinos and an equal number of young people.
Given this compressed picture, do you see why Ileana Ros opposed Trumpcare? If you don’t quite understand, let me tell you that 96,000 people in her district, the equivalent of 13 percent of its total population, depend on Obamacare. They would lose protection if Obamacare is swept away. Add to this the number of people affected by the noticeable reduction or total disappearance of food stamps, and the cutbacks in education and Social Security.
Don’t rack your brain, the key to Doña Ileana’s retirement from political life lies in those percentages, in the human composition of the voters and the consequences the budget cutbacks will have by the time the hard-working citizen enters the polling place.
The main reason for Trump’s prepared, cheap and ignorant statement of May 20 is not Cuba; it’s the mid-term elections.
For the same reason, although in voting districts with some differences in their human composition and put together by the new policies that will affect them, the universe of voters seems to move. Why do you think that Curbelo’s team (District 26) is sweating blood?
The mid-term elections in 2018 might surpass the generally low level of participation, and we’ll likely see large sums of money spent in the contests.
Obama knew what spot to touch.