BY Gerson Borrero
Julián Castro is a Democratic politician who served as the 16th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017. Castro served as the mayor of his native San Antonio, Texas from 2009 until he joined Obama’s cabinet in 2014. He was mentioned as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign. He has stated that he is “likely” to run in the 2020 presidential election.
Julián Castro is not a born again Latino.
There’s no struggle with the truth about who he is or of his past. No embellishment of where he comes from.
Julián Castro’s raíces run deep and are solidly founded in his belief in this nation, where diversity has always been the greatest American characteristic, offering the opportunity for a better mañana. Julián doesn’t need a crash course on the civil rights movement, like other wannabe presidential nominees for 2020 may.
The 44-year old Texan is not a novice to activism or politics. He’s the “big brother” — born one minute ahead — to an identical twin, Joaquín. Their mother, María “Rosie” Castro, raised her boys immersed in what was to her — and still is for many Latino familias and other people of color — a struggle for equality, economic justice, opportunity, dignity and respect.
“My mother is probably the biggest reason that my brother and I are in public service. Growing up, she would take us to a lot of rallies and organizational meetings and other things that are very boring for an 8-, 9-, 10-year-old,” Julián has often said.
The political meetings of La Raza Unida party and other gatherings which his mother exposed her twins to had their roots in the Chicano Movement of the 1960s. The struggles of the Mexican-American civil rights were similar to those of the Black Power movement. In those days, movements and struggles of people of color were all subjected to establishment brutality from the police and other government agents. Fellow Americans hell bent on repressing and discrediting anyone that was “other”.
As his name emerges as a possible aspirant to the nomination of the Democratic Party for President in 2020 the skill of listening, learned at an early age at the “boring” political events his mom dragged him to, will be defining for Julián.
It’s an important attribute to consider as Democrats sort through their candidates. Nowadays our national discourse has turned into how vociferously you can make your points. The decibels at which you can amplify your points is the preferred approach for most politicos. Or, in the case of the current occupant of the White House, bombastic in-your-face insults, distortions and outright mentiras.
Julián is not about that. If Democrats are looking for the type of nominee who is bocón in standing up to the titular Commander-In-Chief, then as an Independent, I can assure you: Julián Castro is not your best hope.
Julián’s political ascendancy to the 2020 presidential national stage is rooted in a path paved of learning, by serving those that have entrusted him with their hopes.
Julián was first elected to the San Antonio City Council in 2001. He was 26 years old. He was then elected Mayor in 2009. In 2012 he became the first Latino ever to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic Convention. In 2014, President Barack Obama offered him the post of U.S. Secretary of HUD.
The rapid rise is highlighted by achievement. As Mayor of San Antonio, he led a voter referendum to expand pre-K education and then convinced business leaders in the city to raise $30 million from sales tax to fund the program.
Julián may not be the fighter the Democratic Party is looking for. His fights are for policy and the people he represents. He’s not a malcriado who will insult his counterparts in a Democratic primary.
If he does seek the White House, his path will be through civility and passionate advocacy.
In the current climate, that may be a longshot.
Gerson Borrero is an award-winning journalist, radio host, and TV political commentator and one of the most knowledgeable political observers of the Latin community.