On election night, pundits unanimously forecasted a “Red Tsunami Wave.” Stagnant economic growth coupled with crippling inflation and concerns over law and order would propel Republicans to an overwhelming victory. Eyes glued on Steve Kornacki’s big board, I marveled at an unprecedented sight. President Joe Biden, crippled by a record-low approval rating and Democratic infighting, spearheaded a miraculous feat—a referendum on his competence morphed into a referendum on Donald Trump.
However, the night’s beginning recounted a different story. Ron DeSantis’ triumphant victory in Florida (nearly a 20-point margin) converted a purple battleground state into a red haven. Droves of Cuban Americans trickled into election centers with a fierce DeSantis tilt, turning Miami Dade-County, a former liberal bastion, into a Republican stronghold.
As MAGA candidates across the country floundered, a fascinating dichotomy emerged. The very trajectory of the Republican party teeters between extremism or the establishment, election fraud or integrity, DeSantis or Trump.
In the upcoming weeks, candidates will declare their intentions for the presidency. A battle of Trump vs. DeSantis will not only render an inordinate change in the Republican party—the victor may very well mold US territorial policy for years to come. Among a sea of America-first jingoism, DeSantis stands as the only viable option willing to uphold the tenets of Puerto Rican justice.
Despite his own lapses in Puerto Rican policy, President Biden has stretched his executive power to advocate for Boricuas. His swift, resounding response to Hurricane Fiona and demands for a swift recovery embody a sense of compassion for all US citizens. With little political incentive to defend Puerto Rico, Biden upholds decency in the spirit of American goodwill.
While both presumptive Republican candidates would assuredly slash federal aid to Puerto Rico, DeSantis will not neglect ailing Boricuas. Hurricane Ian ravaged broad segments of Florida, dwindling townships into desolate ruins. Governor DeSantis responded swiftly and responsibly. Each Floridian, regardless of race, creed, or background, would receive an equitable recovery before the law.
Former President Trump’s life-and-death incompetence following Hurricane Maria reeked of systemic inequity. American citizens in the US mainland were cruelly prioritized over Puerto Ricans. Thus, needless lives were lost on his volition. The MAGA Republican coalition would persist in this subjugation under their impression of American exceptionalism. Apparently, Puerto Rico is not considered a member of the union.
Presidential rumors will ramp up in the following months. The proof is in the prospective nominees’ actions. Citizens must know that their voice, money, and vote will determine the lives of America’s chronically voiceless, for better or for worse.