Things That Matter

Opinion: You Can’t Be Mad That The Presidential Candidates Spoke- Or Tried To Speak- Spanish At Last Night’s Debate

The morning after last night’s first Democratic debate, social media outlets were on fire with memes, tweets, and gifs most of which spoke to the copious amounts of broken Spanish that made an appearance on the stage. Throughout the debates, three of the 2020 candidates broke into Spanish during their speeches at the debate.

In a climate where bitter calls for “English only” and accusations of cultural appropriation and pandering rife, it’s no surprise that everyone watching the debates last night had lots of opinions.

At last night’s debate, three presidential candidates used their time to speak in Spanish.

Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke started off the night by answering portions of his questions and soon enough Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) took an opportunity to show off his ability to speak Spanish as well.

Even, Former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro who has been transparent about  not being fluent in Spanish, started his closing statement by introducing himself, “Me llamo Julián Castro” and ending with “On January 20, 2021, we’ll say adios to Donald Trump.”

The presidential debates soon launched another debate online on whether what the candidates were doing was pandering.

Maybe it was? But who cares?

And many accused the candidates of Speaking as a diversion trick.

Okay so MAYBE in. O’Rourke’s case it kind of was…

While others just saw the humor in their innocent attempts.

O’Rourke’s did seem a lot like this classic scene.

Including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who called the Spanish-language responses “humorous at times.”

During a Wednesday night appearance on The Late Show, Ocasio-Cortez gave a quick review of the first Democratic debate. While AOC hasn’t yet come out to endorse a candidate she did give a thumbs up to the candidates who tried their hand at speaking Spanish.

The congresswoman noted that while speaking in Spanish seemed to be a bit of a dodge by some candidates, she did say that she appreciated that Spanish became a part of the dialogue during the debate. “I thought it was a good gesture to the fact that we are a diverse country,” she said.

The thing is, maybe it’s not so bad the candidates that spoke in Spanish actually did so.


After all, Latinos live in an environment today where we are constantly told that our language, our culture, that we are not welcome. Their attempts might have been slightly humorous but at the very least, their effort showed that these candidates are making an effort to make Latino voters know that they are welcomed.

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