Things That Matter

Julián Castro Has Announced He’s Ending His 2020 Presidential Campaign

Julián Castro, the only Latino candidate in the Democratic field, has ended his presidential campaign. The progressive candidate who also served under the Obama Administration as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is the latest candidate to drop out of the highly competitive 2020 race for the Democratic nomination.

For many on the left who supported his policy ideas, along with many in the Latino community who saw in him a role model, the news comes as a major disappointment. However, as a candidate, Castro was unable to gain significant traction.

In a video recapping his campaign, Castro thanked his supporters and said that “it simply isn’t our time.”

“I’m so proud of the campaign we’ve run together. We’ve shaped the conversation on so many important issues in this races, stood up for the most vulnerable people and given a voice to those who are often forgotten,” Castro said. “But with only a month until the Iowa Caucuses, and given the circumstances of this campaign season, I’ve determined that it simply isn’t our time, so today it’s with a heavy heart and with profound gratitude that I will suspend my campaign for president.”

He adds in the video: “I’m not done fighting. I’ll keep working toward a nation where everyone counts.”

Castro’s campaign helped bring an awareness to issues that impacted communities of color.

Credit: @JulianCastro / Twitter

“When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago, I’m sure she never could have imagined that just two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words: I am a candidate for President of the United States of America,” he said during his campaign launch.

Castro, who previously served as Mayor of San Antonio and under the Obama Administration, struggled to raise funds to support his campaign.

My presidential campaign is in dire need of financial resources to keep going,” he said in an October email to supporters.

In the third quarter, Castro’s campaign raised less than it spent — $3,495,406 to $3,960,971. He ended September with just $672,333 on hand, below candidates who have not appeared in the last several primary debates.

His campaign announced in October that if he did not raise $800,000 by the end of the month, he would end his bid. He ultimately met that threshold and stayed in the race through the end of the year.

Aside from financial concerns, Castro didn’t gain much traction in national or state polls. And that with helpful boosts from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who tweeted that Castro brought “a powerful presence” to the race, as well as Puerto Rican actress Justina Machado, who held a conference call with supporters — Castro was still unable to stand out in the polls.

He was openly concerned during his campaign that some voters would discount him over concerns about “electability.”

Credit: @JulianCastro / Twitter

“The worst thing we can do is to make assumptions or use some cookie-cutter formula about who ought to be the nominee of the party,” he told BuzzFeed News in May.

When Sen. Kamala Harris ended her presidential campaign last month, Castro put some of the blame on the media. “To me, they held her to a different standard, a double standard, to other campaigns. And I don’t know if it impacted her decision to withdraw from the race or not, but I’m sure it didn’t help,” he told BuzzFeed News.

In the same interview, Castro also shared his growing frustration with the Democratic National Committee’s qualifications for the primary debates, after he failed to qualify for the final ones of the year. He also alleged that some candidates were able to “potentially buy their way” onto a debate stage that had come to lack in diversity.

Despite the challenges he faced, Castro had several leading policy proposals that stood out.

Credit: @JulianCastro / Twitter

In an email Thursday, his campaign highlighted that he was the first Democratic presidential candidate with policies on immigration, police reform and ending hunger, among other issues. 

On immigration, he advocated for decriminalizing illegal border crossings, a position that other candidates then adopted. 

“For a long time in this country, we actually did not treat crossing the border as a criminal act. We treated it as a civil violation,” Castro told NPR in May 2019. “A lot of the problems that we see in the system today flared up after we started treating it as a criminal offense.”

Castro also criticized the Democratic Party itself, urging it to change the presidential nominating process. In Iowa, he told attendees at a town hall, “I don’t believe the two states that start the process — Iowa and New Hampshire — are reflective of the diversity of the country, or of our party.”

The National Popular Vote May Be The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of The Electoral College

Things That Matter

The National Popular Vote May Be The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of The Electoral College

Pixabay

We may not be able to get rid of the electoral college without a constitutional amendment but a new proposal known as the National Popular Vote (NPV) is picking up a lot of steam. 

The United States is supposed to be a democracy where voters choose their leaders. In the past two decades, the will of the people has been subverted by the will of the electoral college. Imagine how the country might be different had Al Gore, an environmentalist, who won the popular vote against George W. Bush, who started the disastrous Iraq war, was elected instead? Imagine if Hillary Clinton, who hasn’t been accused of sexual assault two dozen times, and beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes had secured her seat in the oval? 

15 states and the District of Columbia have already adopted NPV.

“As signatories, each jurisdiction pledges to select Electoral College members who support the presidential candidate who won the most votes nationally, regardless of which candidate won the most votes in that particular jurisdiction,” according to the Atlantic

NPV is an interstate compact that requires a certain level of commitment from neighboring states. The pact will go into effect when participating states total 270 electoral college votes (the required number for the president-elect). The 16 regions that have made the commitment are already at 196 electoral college votes. 

NPV is also making waves in state politics on a lower level. It appear state officials are paving a way to pass the pact.

“The National Popular Vote bill has now passed a total of 40 state legislative chambers in 24 states. It has also passed at least one legislative chamber in 8 states possessing 75 electoral votes (AR, AZ, ME, MI, MN, NC, NV, OK).  It has been unanimously approved at the committee level in 2 states possessing 27 more electoral votes (GA, MO),” according to NationalPopularVote.com.

The plan would not totally eradicate the electoral college but it would mean that state leaders have made a commitment to effectively ignore it. Voters often express conflicting attitudes about candidates: they really love one candidate, but question if they can win the electoral college. Proponents of NPV would argue such compromises have no place in a democracy and NPV can help eliminate the conflict altogether. 

NPV could solve two major issues with the electoral college.

There are two major longstanding issues with the electoral college. The first is that our system is based on the premise of “one voter, one vote.” However, the system is skewed in favor of voters in a few small states. Electoral votes are determined by the number of representatives in Congress which is determined by the state population. 

The Washington Post notes that while small states receive a minimum of three electoral votes, larger states have limits on how many electoral votes they can receive. 

” Wyoming, with 586,107 residents — gets three electoral college votes… Consider that California, the most populous state, has 39,144,818 residents and 55 electoral college votes,” according to the paper. “That means that in the electoral college, each individual Wyoming vote weighs 3.6 times more than an individual Californian’s vote.” 

The second issue is the “winner take all” effect, where no matter how small a margin of victory a candidate has, they take all the electoral votes. This means our election outcomes are determined by a few swing states. While some argue that a popular vote will hurt the Republican party, such detractors might ask why Republicans are unable to curry enough favor to win over most American voters. 

The electoral college also disenfranchises about 4 million voters who live on territories.

“Roughly 4 million Americans live in the United States’ five permanently populated overseas territories — and they have no voice in selecting a president. That includes Puerto Rico, the United States’ most populous overseas territory, whose population is larger than that of 21 states and the District of Columbia,” according to the Washington Post. 

While residents of the territories can participate in primaries (Marco Rubio won the Puerto Rican GOP primary by a landslide in 2016, for example), they have no electoral votes with the exception of Washington, D.C. 

“More and more, the United States is likely to elect presidents who haven’t won the popular vote — awarding the presidency to a party that has no popular mandate. The compromises behind the U.S. election system are failing at their goals,” Katy Collin wrote for the Washington Post

One of the original intentions of the electoral college may have been to give smaller states a voice, but it has essentially assured that smaller states are the only voices that matter when it comes to picking our most important leader. 

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

Things That Matter

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.