Things That Matter

Julián Castro Did Not Hold Back When Democrats Debated Immigration During The First Debate

Since Julián Castro first announced his presidential bid in January, he’s been looking for a breakout moment in a crowded field of Democrats. Looks like he might have gotten it during the first Democratic Debate of the 2020 election season. The former Housing and Urban Development secretary and mayor of San Antonio, seized the stage when discussing immigration and his plan to overhaul it. It was a performance that might have just separated Castro from a crowded field of contenders.

There was a 2,400-percent surge in Google searches for Castro during and after the first 2020 Democratic debate show.

Credit:@juliancastro/Twitter

Up until this point, Castro has largely been known to most folks solely for being the only Latino candidate on the Democratic side. But things have quickly picked up for him and people are noticing. He’s released multiple policies since he announced his bid, shared his personal story and has a resume fit for a serious contender. But what he’s lacked is attention.

He finally got that on Wednesday night. As he shared the stage with 10 other Democratic hopefuls like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Castro finally had his moment.

“There was more excitement when he showed command in his voice and passion and compassion, which I think you need to have as president, so he really helped himself out.” Lawrence Romo, who organized a Democratic debate watch party in Castro’s hometown, told NBC News.

The highlight of the debate was Castro squaring off against fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke.

One of Castro’s strengths has been his immigration plan which he rolled out in April. On Wednesday, he took the chance to showcase it to a national audience. But it was one particular part of it that he sees as most important, his proposal to repeal a section of U.S. law that makes it a federal crime for migrants to cross the border unlawfully.

During the debate, Castro said it’s time to “go back to the way we used to treat this when somebody comes across the border, not to criminalize desperation, to treat that as a civil violation.”

It was that policy, Section 1325 of Title 8 of the US Code, that had Castro and O’Rourke debating with one another. To this point, O’Rourke hasn’t considered repealing the policy because he feels that it might make it harder to prosecute drug smugglers and human traffickers.

Castro interrupted O’Rourke’s discussion about the deaths of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter, Valeria, migrants who died crossing the Rio Grande river.

Credit:roqplanas/Twitter

“I just think it’s a mistake, Beto. I think it’s a mistake,” Castro said. “I think that if you truly want to change the system, that we’ve got to repeal that section.”

O’Rourke responded saying that during his time in Congress he helped bring legislation that would guarantee the U.S. wouldn’t criminalize asylum seekers and refugees. Castro countered by saying that wasn’t good enough.

“I think that you should do your homework on this issue,” Castro said. “If you did your homework on this issue, you would know that we should repeal this section.”

The exchange between both candidates went viral and showed how serious of a contender Castro should be considered moving forward. While Castro has been polling in single digits so far, when it comes to Latinos, he’s registered among the top or at the top.

Being the only Latino in the Democratic field, Castro will now have to build off the momentum from his performance on the debate stage.

Credit:@selectedwisdom/Twitter

Castro has been clamoring for recognition and now he’s finally getting his moment in the spotlight. Many political pundits called him one of the biggest winners of the night, along with Warren and Booker.

Beyond immigration, Castro scored well when it came to healthcare issues like whether his health plan would cover abortion access. Castro said that his policy would cover it and that coverage wouldn’t just apply to women but also include “someone in the trans community.”

Many who never even heard of Castro before the evening took to Twitter to show their support for him. For some, just having a candidate they could relate to was enough to get their support.

“Tonight, I saw Julian Castro on that debate stage. He (like me) is the child of a single mother, coming from a Mexican immigrant family and was clearly the break-out. I got emotional. We NEED to get him to the NEXT debate,” comedian Cristela Alonzo wrote.

On a night where candidates like O’Rourke and Booker spoke Spanish as a way to connect with bilingual audiences, Castro didn’t need that. He instead saved his Spanish for his closing statement.

“On Jan. 20, 2021, we’ll say adios to Donald Trump.”

READ: Julián Castro Is Promising To Confront The Growing Housing Crisis In The US With An Ambitious Housing Plan

CNN Is The Big Loser Of Last Night’s Democratic Debate After All Hell Breaks Loose Between Bernie And Warren

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CNN Is The Big Loser Of Last Night’s Democratic Debate After All Hell Breaks Loose Between Bernie And Warren

CNN / YouTube

If you were watching the Democratic Debates live last night you may have noticed one trending hashtag #CNNisTrash. Many Twitter users felt that CNN flubbed the debate asking leading questions to each candidate, particularly progressives like Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren, and barely touching subjects like climate change, gun control, police brutality, and reproductive rights. 

The crassest part of the evening was the CNN moderator stoking the media-incited rivalry between allied progressives Sanders and Warren. The two appeared to have entered frenemy territory this week when it was revealed Sanders’ volunteers were using negative talking points about Warren while canvassing. Then four sources leaked to CNN that Sanders told Warren a woman couldn’t win the presidency in 2018. 

CNN asked both senators about the former incident, which many felt was an attempt to pit progressive candidates against each other and distract from real issues. 

Democratic debate so white.

With Senator Cory Booker dropping out of the race, Andrew Yang and Deval Patrick are the only non-white candidates in the running but they did not qualify for the debate.  While the primary started out with its most diverse set of candidates, only the whitest and wealthiest have been able to garner enough support to stick out the excruciatingly long election season.

Time and time again, experts have pointed out that the primary process too often favors wealthy white males over women and non-white candidates. 

Sanders and Warren refused to take CNN’s bait last night.

Moderator Abby Phillip first asked Sanders about the sexist comment. Sanders denied ever making it. Rather than attacking Warren, he pivoted to the fact that Hillary Clinton won the nomination (over him no less) and that she won the popular vote. 

“Well, as a matter of fact, I didn’t say it. And I don’t want to waste a whole lot of time on this, because this is what Donald Trump and maybe some of the media want. Anybody who knows me knows that it’s incomprehensible that I would think that a woman cannot be President of the United States,” Sanders said. 

Warren maintained her account of events without attacking Sanders.

“I disagreed,” she said. “Bernie is my friend, and I am not here to try to fight with Bernie. But, look, this question about whether or not a woman can be president has been raised, and it’s time for us to attack it head-on.” 

Warren made a salient point about women’s ability to win elections when they choose to run. 

“Look at the men on the stage – collectively they’ve lost 10 elections,” Warren said. “The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are the women. Amy and me.” 

She also noted that she and Senator Amy Klobuchar are the only candidates to beat republican incumbents in roughly 30 years.

#NeverWarren is the number one trend in the U.S.

Some Sanders supporters appear unable to take the lead from their candidate of choice. A behind the scenes moment where Warren and Sanders have a tense conversation has caused many followers to speculate about what was said. Some Sanders supporters say Warren refused to shake his hand.

Twitter has since been flooded with accusations that Warren lied about Sanders’ 2018 comment (with little evidence) and #NeverWarren is now trending. Sanders’ more reasonable followers have chalked things up to a misunderstanding between two friends.

Could all of this anti-Warren drama be due to Russian influence?

Either way, Warren is on the receiving end of a great deal of vitriol which many believe is a coordinated effort by Russian bots to stoke division since neither progressive can win the nomination without the support of the other. A Warren or Sanders presidency will mean bad news for Russia. 

CNN’s questions made them the big losers of the night.

There is much criticism of how political pundits cover elections like a horse race or a soap opera, looking for soundbites, drama, and conflict rather than covering policy and the real stakes for American people. Twitter users seemed to agree that CNN’s democratic debate was by far the worst yet. 

CNN did not address the conservative court-packing of federal judges who are often rated as not qualified for their lifetime appointments. 

CNN did not talk about the president’s unsettling behavior which many believe to be is Trump’s mental unraveling

Why is everyone so intent on not mentioning the obvious dangers that the current president and his administration pose to the country and the world?

Many question the entire debate process after it’s quite obvious the media doesn’t treat progressive politicians and policies in the same way it does long standing traditional ones.

But perhaps the biggest cause of ire was the constant questions about how Democrats will pay for basic entitlements like universal healthcare, childcare, and college with little interrogation about how the government always manages to allocate billions for endless wars and walls. 

Many felt that rather than using the debate as a tool to inform the American people, the moderators were instead reinforcing conservative talking points. 

The general reception of the debate was that the candidates kept their cool and were cordial to one another, despite CNN’s repeated attempts to court drama. 

The candidates won the debate by dodging leading questions and centering their policies and vision for America. 

AOC Said In Any Other Country She And Joe Biden Would Not Even Be In The Same Party

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AOC Said In Any Other Country She And Joe Biden Would Not Even Be In The Same Party

@AOC / @JoeBiden / Twitter

New York Magazine profiled the superstar progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fondly known as AOC. The 30-year-old The Bronx native was not afraid to vent her frustrations with Vice President Joe Biden and the right-leaning centrists who seem to dominate the Democratic Party. 

AOC shared the same concern as many progressives: that centrists control the party at a crucial time for democracy and have a misguided approach to governing during a time when the Republican Party refuses to cooperate. 

AOC said she and Joe Biden don’t belong in the same political party.

When reporter David Freedlander asked her what she thought her place might be should Joe Biden become president, her response was candid, to say the least. 

“Oh God,” she said. “In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are.”’

Freedlander describes AOC as the tenacious hopeful many estimated her to be. She sees no reason to comprise on her values and will fearlessly stand against what’s popular. Notably, in 2019, she was the only Democrat to vote against funding the government because that would mean funding ICE. This might seem like it should be the standard — a leader with a strong sense of justice — but in a representative government, it is more common for Democrats to acquiesce to popular sentiment (i.e. centrist and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi waiting for public approval to impeach the president, rather than what the law dictates). 

AOC feels these Democrats cave too easily on the demands of the more conservative members of the party.

“For so long, when I first got in, people were like, ‘Oh, are you going to basically be a tea party of the left?’ And what people don’t realize is that there is a tea party of the left, but it’s on the right edges, the most conservative parts of the Democratic Party,” the representative of the New York’s 14th district said.

AOC describes tension within the party with one side successfully attempting to pull it right, and the other side also quite successfully trying to pull it left (i.e. the rise of progressives like the Squad, Elizabeth Warren and AOC’s 2020 pick Bernie Sanders).  

“So the Democratic Party has a role to play in this problem, and it’s like we’re not allowed to talk about it. We’re not allowed to talk about anything wrong the Democratic Party does,” she said. “I think I have created more room for dissent, and we’re learning to stretch our wings a little bit on the left.” 

AOC says that she learned from her own experiences that fear has begun to dominate how politicians govern.

The freshman congresswoman recounted an incident where she wanted to sit in on a meeting in Pelosi’s office. It was about the Green New Deal, but other members of the squad chickened out at the last minute. AOC wasn’t sure if she should go? Would the move infuriate the eventual House Speaker? 

“I was terrified,” AOC told New York Magazine. “I learned a lot about how fear shapes the decisions of elected officials: ‘I know this could be bad, and this could make someone mad, and I don’t know exactly how they would drop the hammer on me or what hammers would be dropped.’ It felt like the right thing to do, and when you say that people think it’s a form of naïveté and that it’s childish, but I don’t think it was.”

Much of the conflict exists between the moderates and progressives because of what is at stake. While moderates appear more concerned with winning elections to expand the party’s power, according to AOC, progressives seem more concerned with policy-making. That means they aren’t afraid to challenge other incumbent Democrats in elections. However, Freedlander notes that moderates have challenged far more incumbents than progressives lately. 

Progressives are too threatening to some of the more seasoned Democrats.

“As a consequence of my victory, many people are inspired to run for office, and in a body where 70 percent of the seats are safe red or safe blue, that de facto means a lot more primaries,” she said. 

Dissent is a healthy party of democracy, that is why it is protected by the First Amendment. The differences between moderates and progressives can be good: healthy competition can breed better results. However, it can be confusing for voters when such a large spectrum of values and priorities exists within one party. The person who wants Sanders to win probably has little in common with a candidate like Biden. The massive disparity forces voters to either compromise their values or become apathetic. 

“Democrats can be too big of a tent,” AOC said summing up the issue.

But if there’s one way to change politics, it is by changing the attitudes of voters. AOC wants to get more people involved, and she wants to do it by making politics more understandable. 

“Politics should be pop because it should be consumable and accessible to everyday people,” she said. “I think that’s what populism is about.”