I get paid every other Tuesday. So when my check was direct deposited to my checking account on the 3rd of this month, I did what I usually do — go to Kamala Harris’ ActBlue page and make an admittedly small donation. It was then that I found out. Kamala Harris had just dropped out of the race.
I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. How could this be? Hadn’t she just met — and surpassed — a fundraising goal for an Iowa ad buy? Wasn’t Harris picking up key endorsements left and right? Wasn’t the herd finally thinning out? And hadn’t Harris qualified for the December debate?
I spent the rest of my work day in a fog, hoping against hope that there was some sort of mistake, one of the many times that the mainstream media had prematurely declared her campaign dead in the water. But it was true. Kamala was out.
I spent the next two days alternately sulking, venting on social media, hyper-analyzing the recent turn of events, and, occasionally, crying. But today, I made a decision. I would pin my crumpled hopes and dreams on my second choice candidate, Julián Castro.
Julián Castro who, despite not qualifying for the November debate and despite being perilously close to not qualifying for the December round, is still hanging on. And, just yesterday, he met the donor threshold for the debate.
So I have decided to ride the Castro bus until the wheels come off. I have also decided not to support the Top Four — Biden, Buttigieg, Warren, and Sanders — for any reason.
Buttigieg is too young, too underqualified, and too enamored with the idea of winning over Trump voters to be trustworthy. (His poor handling of racial incidents in his city of South Bend, Indiana only solidified my distaste for him.)
I decided to reject Sanders for multiple reasons, mainly his not-entirely rational rancor for the billionaire class, his lies about superdelegates rigging the 2016 election, his tone-deafness, and his less than stellar legislative record. And he’s less than three years shy of eighty.
I was fairly positive about Warren until I found out that she lied about her ethnicity and whether or not her son attended private school and then bent the truth about her experiences with pregnancy discrimination. And I later discovered that her Senate seat was the only elected position she had ever held. Her curt dismissal of Kamala Harris’ push to get Donald Trump suspended from Twitter turned me off of Warren for good.
Biden, the probable frontrunner? Too gaffe-prone. Biden plays both ends against the middle in regards to his record as Obama’s vice-president — too eager to take credit for Obama’s achievements, too quick to shirk responsibility for the administration’s shortcomings. He’s old, only about two months younger than Sanders. And Biden is “grabby.”
So now I’m on #TeamJulián. Despite his (racially motivated) media erasure, Castro still has a clear, albeit narrow, path to the nomination. While he most likely isn’t viable in Iowa or New Hampshire, he can pick up momentum in the Super Tuesday states( including his home state of Texas), and Nevada, a state with a large Latino voting bloc. He can also make a respectable showing in high population coastal states like New York and California.
He’s a good candidate for other reasons, too:
- Castro has seven years of executive experience, four years as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, America’s seventh largest city, and three years as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Before any of that, Castro was the youngest person ever elected to the San Antonio City Council in 2000.
- A graduate of Stanford University, Castro earned a JD from Harvard and practiced law in his hometown. Twenty-five presidents worked as lawyers at some point.
- Castro has detailed plans to combat police brutality, homelessness, lunch-shaming and hunger, climate change, and gender-based pay inequality. He is also a fierce advocate of public schools, housing affordability, animal rights, income equality, and reproductive and LGBTQ rights.
- He’s young enough to serve two full terms. The third youngest candidate, Castro will be forty-six years old on Election Day 2020, about a month younger than Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were when they ascended to the Oval Office. And turnout tends to be higher when young candidates run — especially when there is a large age gap between the two candidates. Castro is nearly thirty years younger than Donald Trump.
- He would be a transformational candidate. Castro would be the first Latino of any race/nationality to serve as President of the United States. Not only would this be an inspiration to millions of young Latinx people in America, the historic nature of Castro’s nomination would drive up voter turnout.
- His debate performances were solid.
- He was the first 2020 candidate to call for Donald Trump’s impeachment. He was also the first 2020 candidate to put out a comprehensive immigration reform plan, the first to unveil an animal rights platform, the first to call for reparations for slavery, and the first to visit Puerto Rico.
- On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, he went on CBS This Morning and publicly countered claims that Hillary Clinton had been a flawed candidate, saying that she had been an “impressive candidate.”
- Just this week, Castro called out the misogynoir that had dogged the Harris campaign in an email, saying, in part, “ Kamala was treated very poorly by a media insistent on focusing on one type of candidate. Her campaign and the campaign of others in this race have been held to an unfair standard that needs to end.” And during his September debate dust-up with Joe Biden, he credited Senator Harris with having originally pointed out the flaws in Joe Biden’s “Medicare For Choice” plan.
And, most importantly, Castro has centered the most vulnerable people in America during his campaign, pushing for the bold, but feasible, structural changes that many of Top Four candidates are promising but can’t actually implement, let alone clearly articulate. Given how similar his vision for America is to Harris’, I feel that the #KHive should consider donating our time, money, and talent to the Castro campaign.
Yes, Castro is a long shot and, yes, we are absolutely at risk of getting our hearts broken (again.) But under no circumstances should the #KHive ignore Castro due to “electability” issues. Nor should they uncritically buy into the narrative about the inevitability of a Biden nomination; Biden will only become inevitable after the last primary vote has been counted. If people who like Castro withhold their support from him, then his failure will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Pretending that there are no alternatives to the Top Four when Castro is still running is a false dilemma.