Enoch Crowder, a native Missourian, led the diplomatic efforts to establish America's Preventive Policy in Cuba. He was sent to Cuba by Woodrow Wilson to erect a legal basis for Cuban elections. Crowder believed, as generations of Americans before him, that the Cubans were a pleasant people who were politically immature and required American guardianship.
The Cubans expected someone to monitor elections, much as Jimmy Carter has in recent times. However, they got a heavy handed negotiator, more like Nancy Pelosi, who promulgated legislation without regard for anyone else's wishes. On the surface, his plan seemed sensible. Well, at least it appealed to American sensibilities since it was modeled after the systems in place in the United States. It provided for two parties, separate ballots for national and local elections, judges and electoral officials would be selected by a means designed to prevent fraud, and the returns were subject to public audit.
One of the more interesting provisions that Crowder implemented gave the judiciary an important role in determining electoral victories. We saw how well that was received in the United States during the 2000 contest between Bush and Gore.
Crowder defended his work by asserting that America had a moral obligation to provide stable government in Cuba. He aimed to achieve this goal, not with intervention, but diplomacy. Unfortunately, the first test of the Crowder code, the Cuban elections of 1920, proved to be an embarrassment. President Menocal, in a desperate move to keep his party, the Conservatives, in power, united them with the Popular Alliance. He appointed military supervisors at polling places and stripped electoral powers from duly elected municipal and provincial officials. The Liberal Party retaliated by withdrawing from the process. How should America respond? They condemned the Liberal move as “undemocratic” and “as tending to undermine the foundations of popular government.”
Why did American diplomats side with Menocal? When disturbances broke out in Camagüey Province and threatened American property owners there, the President promised adequate protection. Furthermore, he quietly informed American diplomats that he would not object if the United States sent Marines into the province if needed. To be fair, it must be noted that the Liberals had sanctioned the Camagüey protest.
Crowder returned to Cuba in 1921 with a warning. The President was to abide by the electoral processes he had set up. As an inducement to accept his terms, Crowder was authorized to offer financial aid to the Cuban government. Ultimately, the United States used dollars rather than bullets to persuade the Cubans to become more politically mature. We may need the same remedy in the United States if things don't turn around.