Tom McCarthy, The Guardian, August 18, 2020
Julián Castro, the lone Latino to run for the Democratic presidential nomination this year, has warned at the outset of the party’s convention Democrats risk losing Latino support if they do not make greater efforts at inclusion.
“I think that we could win the battle and lose the war,” Castro told Axios, of the fight to defeat Donald Trump. “We could win in November, but you could see a potential slide of Latino support for Democrats.”
Castro spoke as activists directed a welter of criticism at the Democratic National Committee for inviting only three Latino politicians to speak independently during the four-day convention. Just as many Republicans had been invited to speak, critics said.
Prominent Latino politicians who were invited to speak, such as the New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is scheduled for Tuesday night, were given too little time, critics said. Ocasio-Cortez said last week she had been allotted one minute, less than the average speaking time.
“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.
Despite having delivered a keynote speech at the 2012 convention, Castro, 45, was not invited to speak this year, a snub some political analysts tied to his aggressive attacks during the primary on Biden’s mental fitness. That line of attack on the 77-year-old former vice-president has become a central message of the Trump campaign.
The failure of Democrats to make time for more Latino speakers was highlighted by advocates including Belén Sisa, a former national Latino press secretary for another former Biden opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders.
“The Democrats are sending a clear message with their speaker choices on top of the already turbulent treatment of those opposing the party platform as it stands now,” Sisa tweeted. “I thought they would reconsider after 2016, but looks like they’re digging their own grave in the long term.”
The Young Delegates Coalition, a group of 225 convention-goers, signed a petition demanding that Ocasio-Cortez, formerly a prominent Sanders supporter, be given more time.
“Ocasio-Cortez must be given enough time to demonstrate respect for her and the constituencies she represents and to allow her to make the case for why and how we must unite to defeat Trump and move America forward,” the group said in a statement.