When former housing secretary and San Antonio mayor Julián Castro announced his candidacy in the Democratic primary, many of us were torn between emotion and skepticism.
We knew that the political apparatus that the Democrats must confront in 2020 requires a solid candidate who has learned from the mistakes of 2016, and who will be able to convince a huge mass of voters to take to the polling stations.
But it seems that Donald Trump’s government has been so controversial that many felt they could beat him at the game.
More than a dozen candidates, of all backgrounds and colors, threw their hat into the ring to convince the Democratic electorate — and perhaps some Republicans — that the country could be on a better path, within twelve months.
Among women, people of color and, again, Bernie Sanders, a Latino emerged: Julián Castro, a second-generation immigrant and proof in the flesh that the American dream is possible.
As his opponents spread out across the mainland, Castro stepped first into Puerto Rico, announced a grassroots political campaign, and put on the table a bold political project that included everyone, regardless of race, color, or creed.
It’s with profound gratitude to all of our supporters that I suspend my campaign for president today.
I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished together. I’m going to keep fighting for an America where everyone counts—I hope you’ll join me in that fight. pic.twitter.com/jXQLJa3AdC
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) January 2, 2020
Castro advocated for immigrants with a comprehensive immigration reform, spoke to the LGBTQ community, named all people of color who had died at the hands of law enforcement, and even proposed new policies to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. Within the framework of objectivity, the former housing secretary had one of the most comprehensive and doable campaign projects of all the candidates.
However, it was the Democratic establishment itself that hindered his career. During the month of October 2019, Castro announced that his campaign was at risk of coming to an end due to a lack of funds and that his position in the polls would prevent him from qualifying for new debates in the primaries.
What can a candidate do when his party’s largest platform shuts the door in his face?
At the same time, billionaires like former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg seemed to be making their way with fat checks and with what seemed like minimal effort, compared to other candidates who, from the beginning, struggled state by state to make their voices heard.
Candidates such as Senator Kamala Harris had to withdraw from the race, making the Democratic primary increasingly white and traditionalist.
Despite his efforts, Castro also announced a few days ago that he was ending his presidential race through a message on Twitter, where he thanked all of his supporters, and where he assured that “I’m going to keep fighting for an America where everyone counts. ”Perhaps, precisely, because he didn’t manage to count in his own party.
The mere fact that the Democratic primary is determined by a first round of voting in states as white as Iowa already speaks volumes about the political backwardness that the most progressive party in the country continues to suffer.
As the Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa explained: “How you fare in Iowa and New Hampshire sets the tone for how your campaign continues, and when you have these two states that in no way represent the diversity of the Democratic Party, it makes it very difficult for minority candidates to get momentum,” he told Politico.
“If you’ve got people like Booker and Kamala Harris and Castro campaigning in places like Texas, California and South Carolina early on, they’re gonna get momentum,” he added. “They’re gonna get well known. They’re gonna start raising money. These were high-quality candidates and people who have credentials, who have a history of public service, who are smart, who have ideas and who I think represent where we’re at as a party on the issues important to Americans.”
Despite not having been able to get any further with his campaign for the presidency, Castro left with his head held high and making clear the real problem of politics in the country: the system.
“I very much see this as in keeping with our push in the Democratic Party for greater valid access and voting rights, that we change the way that we do our nominating process,” said the candidate in an interview with MSNBC. “I don’t believe we should have these caucuses.”
“It’s time for us to grow up as Democrats, and be willing to look at our own house. We have to complain and take action and file suit when Republicans trample on voting rights, but we can’t stop there. We actually have to improve how we do things as well, or else, there’s a little bit of hypocrisy there.”