Let’s forget for a second the misunderstanding with AOC’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders during the Democratic National Convention. If it weren’t for the noise caused by the protocol of the Bronx representative, few would have noticed the lack of Latino representation at the event.
While the Biden-Harris campaign floods the battlefield states with bilingual ads, the party’s most important pre-election event apparently still leaves out the most important constituency.
Sawyer Hackett, senior advisor to former presidential candidate Julian Castro noted on Twitter: “It’s completely unacceptable that there are more Republican son day one than Latinos speaking at the convention.
Correction: more Republicans on day one than Latinos the whole week https://t.co/pjkbaralao
— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) August 17, 2020
Beyond a cameo by Dolores Huerta, the words of Nevada Senator Catherine Cortéz Masto, New Mexico Governor Michelle Luján Grisham, and AOC, Latinos were once again displaced in the lineup.
And the absence that resonated the loudest was Castro himself, who was President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and who gave the keynote address at the 2012 convention, according to Al Jazeera.
Castro, the only Latino candidate in the Democratic primary season, spoke early Tuesday at a convention council meeting and part of his 2012 speech was broadcast in a montage during Tuesday’s main event.
Castro’s absence as a speaker in prime time, and the fact that Ocasio-Cortez was “marginalized” with a 90-second slot introducing Senator Bernie Sanders, does not send the right message to a voting bloc that has become the largest non-white demographic in the U.S. and is considered to have untapped potential for the Democratic party, Cristina Jimenez, the co-founder of United We Dream Action, an immigrant organizing group, told Al Jazeera.
With 32 million Latino voters eligible in 2020 — more than enough to determine the full election — the Democratic system seems to be making the same mistakes as it did four years ago.
“I think a lot of young Hispanic voters are asking why vote for Biden in November,” Julio Varela, who runs the news site Latino Rebels, told The Washington Post. “Someone like Castro could have been a symbol that represents that group of voters. I think it was a mistake not to include him.
Similarly, Juan Escalante, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiary and immigrant advocate, told The Post the slight on Castro “is reprehensible.”
“We have seen Republicans chosen to address the party. The party’s Latino wing? Not so much,” Escalante told me. “Why can’t we hear from people who have been persecuted by this administration? Why not include Castro, the only Latino to run for president? It’s a real shame.”
With so much at stake for the community in November, to take it for granted again is to make a mistake “Hillary Clinton style” all over again, where Spanish ads and a vice president with empathy will not be enough.