In Julian Castro’s announcement as a presidential candidate for the 2020 election, the former San Antonio mayor and cabinet member under President Obama promised to support a Medicare-for-all health-care system, universal prekindergarten, and new citizenship pathways in his “comprehensive” immigration policy.
Castro has also expressed support for several other policy ideas, according to the Washington Post “that have become increasingly popular among the Democratic Party’s base — including a higher minimum wage, a ‘Green New Deal’ to combat climate change and a push for criminal justice reform and reduction in police violence.”
For Castro, many of these policy ideas are not new. In his earlier days as mayor of San Antonio, he advocated for greater educational opportunities, as well as immigration and criminal justice reform. A strong proponent of early education, his PK4SA program enabled thousands of four-year-olds to start school early.
In his keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention in 2012 Castro offered the idea of investing in opportunity today in order to have prosperity tomorrow.
For Castro, the key to prosperity has always been education.
In recent weeks Castro has been crisscrossing the country to get his message out and firm up political support among groups that will be essential to his success: Latinos, millennials, African Americans, women and blue-collar workers. He has expressed confidence to CNN that he can win–as a start– not only Florida, Texas and Arizona, but also the rust belt states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio.
Speaking with a reporter of the Chicago Tribune, Castro offered that he was running for president “because it’s time for new leadership because it’s time for new energy and it’s time for a new commitment to make sure that the opportunities that I’ve had are available to every American.” To win in 2020, the candidate must win the vast majority of voters who see themselves as moderate or centralists, as well as voters who lean to the left of the political center.
The 2016 midterm elections proved that mobilizing these voters is possible and can result in needed political change. The biggest midterm winners were women who won congressional seats in all parts of America. The new policy ideas they campaigned on concerned health care, the deficit, taxation, and climate change. For Castro, this is not just a battle between left and right, it is a battle for the soul of America.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham’s book The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels captures the essence of what the American soul is and why great leadership is key to a successful presidency.
Meacham’s description of “doing all we can to ensure equal opportunity” is what former mayor and HUD Secretary Castro’s political compass has been about. As Meacham has brilliantly noted, equal opportunity is “ a love of fair play, of the generosity of spirit, of reaping the rewards of hard work, and of faith in the future.”
Castro learned about an opportunity from his grandmother who came to this country from Mexico. President Barack Obama observed, “She worked as a maid, worked as a cook, worked as a babysitter — whatever she had to do to keep a roof over her family’s head… A home is a source of pride and security. It’s a place to raise a family and put down roots and build up savings for college or business or retirement, or write a lifetime of memories.” She embodied the American
Dream. It was Castro’s grandmother’s struggle to have a home for her family that inspired him to strongly commit to affordable housing.
Castro told Rolling Stone Magazine that when it came to the debate about immigration he found it “short-sighted” in terms about the value of immigrants. Castro added: “It’s not just the impact that the person who immigrates makes, but it’s the impact of the family line.” Studies have shown that the children of immigrants are highly motivated to achieve and desire to give back.
It is expected that Castro will soon release his immigration policy, a comprehensive policy that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented people as well as “expedited pathway to citizenship for the ‘dreamers’ — young immigrants brought to America as children — as well as changes to ‘streamline and simplify’ America’s asylum process.” (Washington Post)
Many who read Castro’s book, An Unlikely Journey: Waking up from my American Dream will find an engaging and inspiring story about how his family– through hard work, faith, and devotion to each other–
enabled them to overcome the obstacles of immigration and poverty. The lessons from his family were many, including love for children, appreciation and respect for his elders, and value of public service.
Castro can win. His Stanford and Harvard Law School education and political experience as mayor and cabinet member under President Obama have superbly prepared him to lead and to creatively solve problems. Our nation needs new leadership as it faces continuing problems with income inequality, trade and tariff restrictions and absence of clear foreign policy direction. The current crisis in leadership is obvious–but we can change that with President Castro.