With Julián Castro Out of the Picture, Latinos Turn Their Attention to Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders AOC
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., clasps hands with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., after introducing Sanders during a campaign rally on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

While it is true that former Housing Secretary Julián Castro didn’t have the Latino vote secured just because he is Hispanic, the race for the Democratic nomination has divided the community’s attention in the country.

Even though it is a fact that Latinos will be the most influential community in the 2020 election, most candidates have overlooked their importance, omitting their interests or any effort to draw their attention.

During 2019, all candidates missed invitations from Hispanic organizations such as the Latino Community Foundation or the League of United Latin American Citizens, according to the Washington Post.

Candidates such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, or Senator Cory Booker all preferred to miss events organized by Hispanic groups and focused their efforts in states where Donald Trump won in 2016 or where they know their proposals have a greater resonance.

So what about Latinos?

“At this stage in the game, we are well beyond talking about missed opportunities,” said Clarissa Martinez de Castro, the deputy vice president for policy and advocacy at UnidosU to the WaPo. “This is seriously in the territory of political malpractice.”

Even Julián Castro, being the only Latino in the primary, failed to gain the support of the Hispanic community.

It’s not just a matter of speaking Spanish or recognizing in some speeches the lack of inclusion and the needs of minorities in general, much less putting the campaign’s digital platform in English and Spanish, but of showing real structural change, as Senator Elizabeth Warren likes to say.

Moreover, it is about seeing objectively what Latinos represent in the 2020 elections.

According to an analysis by Univision, the Hispanic community could radically change the outcome of any election from now on, especially considering that the number of eligible voters in states like Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico has doubled.

However, there is one candidate who seems to be changing strategy in this regard: Senator Bernie Sanders.

The veteran politician focused much of his second presidential campaign on the grassroots political movement, the rejection of corporate America, and Medicare For All. His project, as it has been since the beginning, is one of the most progressive on the ballot, and everything he planted in American society during his campaign for the 2016 election seems to be bearing fruit.

Especially now that he has one of the most powerful voices in the Hispanic community in his corner, Bronx Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

It was no surprise that the former Sanders campaign organizer and, two years later, the youngest congresswoman in House history, gave her support to the Vermont Senator last October at a rally in Queensbridge, N.Y.

But the strategy came with a twist.

Cortez joined Sanders at a key event in Las Vegas last December, in a town hall held entirely in Spanish.

The representative gave her first speech in the language of her parents and, although she apologized for the pronunciation errors, she assured the crowd that perfecting the language is “a personal project.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s performance has been so important at the national level that it has awakened speculation about her possible incorporation as vice president of the Sanders campaign or even the possibility that at some point she herself will be a candidate for the White House.

One way or another, the strategy seems to be having an effect.

A Morning Consult poll released on January 7 showed how Sanders has increased approval in the Hispanic community by 7%.

Still, Sanders now faces his opponent in the progressive wing of the race, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who as of this week has the support of former candidate Julián Castro.

It seems then that the politicians in the country finally realized that, with a Latino at their side, they could go much further.