Everywhere you turn in Miami, you’ll hear a familiar and inspiring story — entrepreneurs, community leaders, artists and others who fled political instability in their countries to seek and achieve the American Dream. Countless families have firsthand accounts of “losing everything” because of political failures beyond their control, or are few generations removed from this struggle.
This is what drew me to live in Miami many years ago. I loved walking by the manicured lawns of graceful homes in Coral Gables adorned with signs of familiar Latin American surnames. Many of these families came to America to live in freedom and free-market prosperity. They understand how important these values are to our individual ability to thrive every day. I know that many Miami residents share my dismay that President Trump seems willing to hand over the keys to our democracy to a foreign power bent on undermining our national security.
The alarm bells went off again at the Helsinki Summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. How could President Trump undermine incontrovertible American intelligence, saying that he did not “see why it would be Russia” that interfered in our elections to help him win in 2016? He later recanted, but the damage was done.
Certainly this meeting was the latest proof of the president’s steady trajectory of complimenting Putin, congratulating him for sham elections and letting him avoid responsibility for interfering in our election. But it was perhaps the most shameful moment for all of us.
Our commander in chief defended a dictator who invades neighboring countries at whim (fueling conflicts that have driven migration to South Florida), viciously quashes domestic dissent and devises sophisticated operations to infiltrate our civil society, launch information wars to inflame race relations and undermine electoral institutions.
And while he defended Putin, Trump threw under the bus our patriots in the intelligence community who work doggedly every day, often at personal risk, to keep our nation safe. His subsequent tweet was the next slap in the face—“The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media.” Evidently, our president holds the free press in lower regard than a dictator who views the United States and NATO as its top threats.
Make no mistake: Russia is a clear and present danger. Putin’s infiltration operations are bent on sowing discord in American society and undermining precisely what makes America great — the American dream of freedom, inclusion and opportunity for all. And yes, they did interfere in our elections. Gaslighting the American people by claiming a script error is simply not enough. Trump should unequivocally repudiate these threats from Russia, not welcome them with his own attacks to fundamental freedoms.
I know my fellow “New Americans” care about the threats our nation faces from inside and from abroad. Too many have come to America fleeing populist governments that played fast and loose with the facts and their security. We understand better than anyone the importance of protecting our democracy. Like everyone else in America, we deserve answers from the president that affirm his understanding of the job with which he has been entrusted: to revere our fundamental freedoms; to protect our democracy, security and prosperity every day from those who seek to tear it apart.
It is the least we can ask of our president.
Cynthia Romero is a political partner with the Truman National Security Project and a former Obama administration official.