Things That Matter

From Gun Reform To Immigration, Here Are The Highlights Of Last Night’s #DemDebate

ABC News and Univision hosted the third Democratic debate last night in Houston. A lot of the discussion focused on the gun violence epidemic due to the recent shootings that impacted the Texas community. Immigration and healthcare were also major topics discussed among the top ten Democratic candidates. Here’s a quick recap so you know what went down.

Beto O’Rourke had the biggest moment when he declared that the U.S. government should take away assault rifles.

O’Rourke, who is from and represented El Paso, Texas, took on the gun debate in a way we haven’t seen. The Texas-native spoke about the guns that have been used to commit mass shooting across the country bringing unimaginable pain and death in minutes. He referred to the guns as weapons wit the intention of killing people and spoke on their purpose in war. He went further to say that weapons meant for war have no place on the streets of the U.S. citing mass deaths in El Paso and Odessa, Texas.

“Hell yes. We’re going to tek your AR-15 and your AK-47,” O’Rourke said. “We’re not going to allow them to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”

His statement was met with a standing ovation and thunderous applause.

His statements caught the attention of Texas State Representative Briscoe Cain who represents District 128.

Credit: @BetoORourke / Twitter

The tweet, which many are calling a death threat on the presidential candidate, was deleted by Twitter. Cain represents a rural district of Texas just east of Houston. The O’Rourke campaign is reporting the tweet to the FBI.

Jorge Ramos, one of the moderators of the debate, asked Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to explain the difference between his views of Socialism and the governments of Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Ramos asked Sanders to explain why he won’t refer to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro as a dictator. He also asked just how Sanders’ view of Socialism is different than the governments in Latin America.

Sanders started his answer by calling Maduro a vicious tyrant and called on international and regional support to reinstate free and open elections. Sanders’ hope is that by placing pressure on Venezuela, the people will be able to create the government and future they seek.

“In terms of Democratic Socialism,” Sanders started. “To equate what goes on in Venezuela with what I believe is extremely unfair. I’ll tell you what I believe in terms of Democratic Socialism. I agree with what’s going on in Canada and Scandanavia guaranteeing healthcare to all people as a human right. I believe that the United States should not be the only major country on earth not to provide paid family and medical leave.”

Julián Castro, also from Texas, declared that his immigration plan will not use DACA as a bargaining chip and plans to keep the program in place.

First, Castro painted the picture that Obama and Trump are polar opposites when it comes to the treatment of the immigrant community. To Castro, Trump has a “dark heart” when it comes to immigrants and has spent his time as president to scapegoat and demonize the immigrant community.

Namely, Castro went after Biden for celebrating the victories of the Obama administration by inserting himself in those victories. Yet, Castro calls out what he sees as Biden separating himself from the harder moments of admitting to being part of the shortcomings.

“I was the first candidate in early April to put forward an immigration plan,” Castro said. “You know why? Because I’m not afraid of trump on this issue. I”m not going to backpedal. I’m not going to pretend like I don’t have my own vision for immigration. So, we’re not going to give up DACA. We’re not going to give up protections for anybody.”

Vice President Joe Biden and Castro had a moment of fierce disagreement on stage and it caused a discussion.

Castro went after Biden in what he heard to be a plan that would not allow for people to be automatically enrolled into the healthcare plan set forth by the former vice president. While it was not completely false, there was a nuance in the language that was omitted by Castro.

Biden’s plan does require people to opt into the healthcare system. However, while Biden’s plan does not rely on an automatic enrollment for healthcare recipients, it does enroll low-income families and communities. Biden does not support Medicare for All but says his plan would allow for Obamacare to include 97 percent of the population. Those omitted would be undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for federal subsidies and programs.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker used some of his time to reframe the discussion around race and racism in the country.

He openly called President Trump a racist and acknowledged the rise and threat of racism. Booker also called out Trump for supporting white supremacy by his unwillingness to call it out. Yet, more than that, he called out the systemic racism that is truly crippling communities of color.

“We have a criminal justice system that is so racially biased [that] we have more African-Americans under criminal supervision today than all the slaves in 1850,” Booker told the audience. “We have to come at this issue attacking systemic racism, having the courage to call it out, and having a plan to do something about it.”

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang did something never before seen at a presidential debate.

Yang is a candidate running on a platform that includes a universal basic income. The universal basic income would guarantee $1,000 a month for every citizen. In his opening statement, Yang decided to take his plan to the next level before even making it through the primary. Yang offered to start the universal basic income now with 10 American families. In order to be one of the families, Yang called on people to go to his website and tell him how the universal basic income could change their lives.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar also took on the gun debate and addressed a gridlock she is seeing in the Senate.

Klobuchar agreed that something needs to happen with guns and that eliminating assault rifles is a way to start. However, she framed the argument in a different way. Instead of placing the responsibility on the president or the future president, Klobuchar called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for stalling all the bills passed through the House of Representatives that would address the most supported gun reform measures, like universal background checks and a registry and licensing program for gun owners.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren also took aim at McConnell and his successful attempts to block popular gun reform legislation.

Nearly 90 percent of American agree with universal background checks before people are allowed to purchase guns. More than 80 percent of American agree with licensing and registries for gun owners. However, as Warren points out, the NRA lobby has successfully killed bills targeting these issues in the Senate.

Warren posed the question asking how it is possible that such popular legislation dies in the Senate. Her answer, “Corruption. Pure and simple.”

California Senator Kamala Harris directly addressed Trump for his use of hate and division to keep the country at a stalemate.

“President Trump. You spent the last two and a half years, full-time, trying to sow hate and division among us and that is why we’ve gotten nothing done,” Harris said. “You have used hate, intimidation, fear, and over 12,000 lives as a way to distract from your failed policies and your broken promises. The only reason you’ve not been indicted is because there was a memo in the department of justice that says a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.”

Harris then spoke on how the American people are better than him and his fearmongering. She spoke on how the American people and their values are stronger than Trump and his campaign against decency.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg used his final answer about a professional setback to talk about his journey coming out.

Buttigieg was a military officer serving during the time of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” when it was forbidden for openly LGBTQ+ to serve in the military. He then became a mayor of a town in Mike Pence’s conservative Indiana. Yet, at a certain point, Buttigieg had enough of living in the closet and decided it was time for him to be honest with himself and others.

“At a certain point, when it came to professional setbacks, I had to wonder if just acknowledging who I was was going to be the ultimate career-ending professional setback,” Buttigieg said. “I came back from the deployment and realized that you only get to live one life and I was not interested in not knowing what it was like to be in love any longer. So, I just came out. I had no idea what kind of professional setback it would be, especially because, inconveniently, it was an election year in my socially conservative community. What happened was that when I trusted voters to judge me based on the job that I did for them, they decided to trust me and reelected me with 80 percent of the vote.”

What was your favorite moment from the third Democratic Presidential Debate?

READ: Julián Castro Is Rolling Out A $10 Trillion Plan To Fight Climate Change

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As Republicans Move To Fill Supreme Court Seat, Julián Castro Says Democrats Should Consider Nuclear Option

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As Republicans Move To Fill Supreme Court Seat, Julián Castro Says Democrats Should Consider Nuclear Option

Gabriela Bhaskar / Getty Images

With the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, progressives are struggling to figure out their next move. Republicans have made it clear they don’t care about precedent or even following their own made up rules, and plan to attempt to fill the vacancy as quickly as possible.

Some Republicans have even gone as far as saying they’ll vote to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee even if he loses the November election, in a lame duck session of Congress.

This has Democrats in overdrive trying to figure out their game plan and how they’ll respond to Republican efforts to once again steal a Supreme Court seat.

Julián Castro says that Democrats should consider packing the court if they come into power come January.

In an interview with Buzzfeed’s News O’Clock podcast, this year’s only Latino candidate for president said that Democrats should consider adding more justices to the Supreme Court if Senate Republicans rush to confirm a justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. His announcement is a reversal from his stated position during the presidential campaign.

“For many of us, that wasn’t our preference, but the fact is you have Mitch McConnell not abiding by, not working in good faith under the Constitution. … If you have that kind of abuse of the system, then I think that, yeah, Democrats should be open to different ways that we can stave off draconian changes to our fundamental rights,” he said.

During last year’s presidential primaries, Castro said that he “would not pack the court” if we were elected president, but with reproductive rights, voting rights, and healthcare hanging in the balance, he now believes Democrats should consider structural reform to the court.

“When those are the stakes, and Mitch McConnell is the one who’s abused this system, then yeah, I think we need to be open to considering either adding more justices or other structural reforms that will prevent this kind of abuse in the future,” he said.

Nothing in the Constitution limits the number of justices that sit on the Supreme Court.

Credit: Sam Gateaux / Getty Images

Adding more justices to the Supreme Court, or “packing the court”, has become widely popular among progressives as they see it as a last resort to restoring equality to the court. And the only way in writing wrongs committed by Republican Senate leadership.

Obviously, one concern is that if the Democrats increase the court size when they have power, that the Republicans could expand it again when they regain power. And we would have a never ending saga.

But as the Democrats are once again outplayed and outmaneuvered by the GOP, many say it’s a risk worth taking.

Castro also warned that Biden was losing his traction with Latino voters.

Meanwhile, Castro has also expressed concern that the Biden campaign isn’t doing enough to win the support of Latino voters.

“I believe the campaign gets it in that they understand they have work to do,” Castro said, adding that he thinks that Biden will pick up Latino support by Nov. 3 because the campaign is now investing in voter registration, bilingual messaging across platforms, and tailored outreach to different Latino communities, rather than treating them as one unified voting block.

“The Latino community too often is invisible, it’s an afterthought,” said Castro, who was housing secretary under Barack Obama. “Even though it’s going to be the largest non-white voting group in 2020. I think in every way in American society … there’s this image of the Latino community as though everybody got here five minutes ago.”

Joe Biden’s campaign has “to make sure that they are doing everything they can to reach out to a community that already has one of the lowest rates of voting, that needs to be brought into the fold”, Castro said.

With 29 million eligible voters in 2018, or about 12.8% of the total, Latinos voted more than two-to-one for Democrats, according to Pew Research. That was a much lower rate than for the party’s key bloc, African Americans, who went 90%-9% for Democrats.

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They Supported Different Candidates At The DNC But These Two Delegates Both Cast Votes To Help The Latino Community

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They Supported Different Candidates At The DNC But These Two Delegates Both Cast Votes To Help The Latino Community

Anthony Santiago / Zenaida Huerta

Since Joe Biden clinched the Democratic presidential nomination in April, his team has been hard at work brokering a sort of truce with rival candidate Bernie Sanders, along with his dedicated supporters.

This outreach became ever more apparent at last week’s Democratic National Convention, as Sanders and his closest allies, as well as many of their one-time rivals, say the party is united behind Joe Biden in the face of a common enemy: Donald Trump.

In a live-streamed speech, Bernie said: “As long as I am here, I will work with progressives, with moderates, and, yes, with conservatives to preserve this nation from a threat that so many of our heroes fought and died to defeat.” He added: “This election is the most important in the modern history of this country. We need Joe Biden as our next president.”

The Biden team has worked hard to forge this bridge between Biden and Sanders supporters, and although Biden has also excluded a number of cherished progressive policies from his party’s platform, the relationship remains intact.

Biden and Sanders supporters want voters to know one important thing: it’s OK to change your mind.

Now, as many Sanders supporters and delegates to the convention come to support Biden, the two sides want to show voters that it’s OK to change your mind and to support the nominee – even if he wasn’t your first (or second or third…) choice.

We sat down with two young Latino delegates who proudly nominated their chosen candidate for President of the United States at this convention. They may not have cast their vote for the same candidate but they both agree that our community needs a voice at the table and that all of us will benefit from actual leadership in the White House.

They started out supporting different candidates but these two delegates agree on the importance of this election.

Meet Anthony Santiago and Zenaida Huerta – two young Latino delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Although they cast their vote for different candidates, they both share similar motivations for making sure their voice (and the voice of their community) was heard.

Anthony is a 19-year-old delegate from Kissimmee, Florida and, having been a Biden supporter from the very beginning, proudly cast his vote for Joe Biden.

Zenaida, from California, is a 21-year-old Bernie Sanders supporter and it wasn’t her first time attending the convention as a delegate – she also cast her vote for Sanders at the 2016 convention at just 17-years-old.

When asked about the importance of voting and getting involved in politics, they both pointed out how consequential this election is. Anthony said, “The single most important thing that any of us can do this year is vote. When we are united, our voice can make a huge, positive difference in our nation. There has never been a more important election in our lifetimes than the 2020 presidential election.”

Zenaida urges our community, especially young Latinos to “realize your power. We are in this fight for the long haul—not just until our friends stop posting about it. When we stay in this fight, we see change.”

Anthony came to the convention as a long term Biden supporter.

Anthony told Mitú that he came to appreciate and admire Joe Biden during the presidency of Barack Obama. He would watch the news with his mom every morning while getting ready for school and he felt that Barack Obama was a leader he could look up to.

He added that during the Democratic primary, he was “watching every debate and taking the time to look into each candidate and Joe Biden’s plan for healthcare was what I gravitated to most.”

Anthony also points out that for him, his support of Biden isn’t just about policy. According to Anthony, ”Biden’s personal story also really stood out to me. It’s filled with hardship and resonates with many Americans. Joe Biden knows what it feels like to feel true loss, and he knows how to push forward. After making it through all of these challenges, Joe Biden is now running for president and will win if we all do our part and vote for him.”

As a longtime Sanders supporter, it was important for Zenaida to cast that vote for his nomination.

To Zenaida, her support for Sanders is simple: “I support Bernie Sanders because I believe that working families deserve lives filled with dignity,” she told Mitú.

Among all demographics, Latinos in California suffer from the highest rates of poverty and Zenaida believes that Sanders’ policies will help uplift the most vulnerable among us. She says, “My grandparents and parents sacrificed so much for me to have a better life—yet, a better life is now out of reach for young Latinos. I support Bernie because he makes a better life within reach, not just for myself, but for my community.”

When asked about the importance of casting her vote for Sanders at the convention, Zenaida told Mitú, “Being part of the convention for the second time means that the progressive movement has been realized. Young people, particularly young Latinos, whose majority stood behind Bernie, were with him in 2016; they are with him in 2020; and they will continue to be an unmoved force in our party hereafter.”

Zenaida and her family have roots in the farm worker community and she sees Sanders as a true ally.

Zenaida remembers as a little girl attending labor marches and rallies with her father, who was a campaign manager for AFL-CIO in Los Angeles. She was moved by the thousands of people, standing together, united to make a difference.

But labor and community organizing runs deep in her family. Her grandfather, Juan Huerta, worked alongside Cesar Chavez as a United Farmworkers organizer. When asked about why he worked so hard for so little in return, Huerta told Zenaida, “It was a lot of work, but it was right.” These words guide Zenaida in her activism today. She told Mitú, “I am involved not just because I am one voice, but because I am one of many. I am following in my grandfather and father’s footsteps because I am continuing their struggle.“

Biden’s support in getting the Affordable Care Act (aka. ObamaCare) passed helped Anthony’s family in untold ways.

Like so many other Americans, healthcare is one of the most important issues our community faces. So many are unable to afford important medications or medical procedures, while others are simply too afraid to visit the doctor for fear of deportation. Therefore, it’s no surprise that healthcare is consistently rated among the most important issues to Latinos.

Anthony’s family has benefited from the ACA, which was signed under the Obama presidency with Joe Biden’s support. Anthony points out just how important this was to his family.

He says, “Joe Biden’s plan for healthcare was what I gravitated to most. My abuela was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer a few years ago, and thanks to the ACA she has been able to get affordable treatment and is doing very well today.”

Anthony and Zenaida are not alone: major parts of the progressive wing are coming together to support Biden’s campaign.

A progressive group that opposed Joe Biden in the Democratic primaries is rolling out a new campaign to urge progressive voters in battleground states to back the presumptive presidential nominee in November.

RootsAction.org, a group run by supporters of Bernie Sanders, launched its #VoteTrumpOut campaign Wednesday and said while it hopes to help push the former Vice President over the edge against President Trump, it will work to hold him accountable should he win the White House. 

“Donald Trump is waging a war on truth, on decency, on our planet, and on working people. For the sake of everything we care about, we have to get him out of the White House in 2020,” the group said on its website. “As progressives and leftists, we are not going to minimize our disagreements with Joe Biden. But we’re also clear-eyed about where things stand: supporting the Democratic nominee in swing states is the only means we have to defeat Trump.”

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