hausmann82_Jabin BotsfordThe Washington Post via Getty Images_trumpjuanguaidovenezuela Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Venezuela Card in the US Election

As America's campaign season heats up, President Donald Trump is using Venezuela's tragedy as a political weapon, arguing that a similar fate awaits the US if a Democrat wins. Two can play that game, but only if the Democratic frontrunner, Bernie Sanders, reassures voters that he knows how Scandinavian "socialism" differs from Chavismo.

CAMBRIDGE – It was bound to happen. At some point, Venezuela would enter the electoral debate in the United States. Now that it has, it will likely continue to be an issue. Venezuela, after all, represents the Americas’ biggest economic collapse, the largest increase in poverty, the worst hyperinflation, and the greatest mass migration over the past couple of centuries.

It is also a case where ending the nightmare – and the threat to regional stability – has become a top US foreign policy priority. It is one of the few policies of President Donald Trump’s administration that has ample bipartisan support, as shown by the standing ovation given to Acting President Juan Guaidó during Trump’s State of the Union Address in February.

And yet Venezuela’s tragedy is being used as a partisan political weapon in the run-up to November’s presidential and congressional elections. In Trump’s telling, Venezuela shows the failure of “socialism,” and Democrats are “socialists.” Presumably, if voters replaced Trump with a Democrat, the US would suffer the same fate as Venezuela.

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