Presidential Hopeful Julian Castro Speaks in Manchester

“To everybody here at St. Anselm College, a big thank you– Gracias– for hosting us today…”


From the moment he walked on stage, Julian Castro’s Mexican heritage was on full display. To a crowded room of a hundred people, he described his vision for America under a Castro presidency.


I was just happy to be there, sardined up against the back wall with the other members of the press, namely, adults with giant cameras and microphones that would broadcast this out to television networks. I’d spent the past few days emailing frantically, trying to figure out how I could secure a press pass to the occasion, getting excused from class, and scrambling to find a ride. The program, Politics & Eggs, is a legendary speaker series that has hosted Presidential candidates at St. Anselm College since Kennedy’s 1960 bid for the office. I was proud of the effort I put in to get here, and I was determined not to miss a single word.


Meanwhile, Castro stood at the podium, and he didn’t need notes. He rattled off family stories and policy plans without so much as a stammer. Lighthearted and quick-witted, he joked about New Hampshire residents taking politics as seriously as Texans take their barbeque. Despite the amicable atmosphere, Castro was not messing around.  A second-generation American whose grandmother immigrated to the United States as a seven-year-old orphan, Castro emphasized the importance of equal opportunities and the American Dream. There could hardly be a better spokesperson; his grandmother didn’t even finish elementary school before beginning her work as a maid and babysitter. Two generations later, Julian and his twin brother Joaquin graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Law School and became two of the most influential politicians of their generation. Joaquin represents Texas’ 20th congressional district in the House of Representatives, while Julian is the former mayor of San Antonio and was the youngest member of President Obama’s cabinet when he served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.


If there’s one thing Castro has learned from his successes, it’s that there could be many Castros, if only the same opportunities were available to all. He mentioned the way that San Antonio is home to just as many smart and hardworking people as at Stanford University, yet many will never get the opportunity to pursue higher education due to debilitatingly high tuition costs. He said that in the near future, 70% of jobs will require some form of higher education and “brainpower truly is the new currency of success” in the twenty-first century. He is fully committed to the idea that every student should get to a good start, especially with fully-funded pre-K programs and the ultimate goal of a tuition-free system.


On the healthcare side, he once again shared the story of his grandmother; this time explaining that she had been diabetic and needed a foot amputated. Medicare was there for her, and Castro believes it should be available to every citizen of the wealthiest nation on Earth.


Castro wants to “reform and reimagine” the justice system, so that police brutality against people of color declines. In his clear voice and Obama-like cadence, Castro said he plans to “ensure that innocent until proven guilty applies to everyone in our country, not just people that can afford high-priced defense lawyers, that innocent until proven guilty should not apply only if you have the resources to navigate our criminal justice system, it shouldn’t apply only if you have a certain color skin, or if you come from a certain family,  but to everyone in the United States of America. I believe that we can get there.”


Perhaps the cadence of his voice isn’t his only Obama-like quality.


They share something else: a personal story that is both unique and distinctly American, a way of speaking about a utopian future that paints a picture in the mind’s eye, an intellectual mind but a down-to-earth way of connecting with the people around him.  


He also spoke out against President Trump’s wall, stating that most Americans do not support it and that this administration has chosen cruelty over compassion when it comes to immigration. It’s best summed up by his elegant goal for American citizens to “get past the point of dividing and instead try and unite around a common agenda to find a solution.”


On the environmental front, Castro promises to recommit to the Paris Climate Accord, cut carbon emissions, and make sure that the Americans don’t have to choose between job growth and helping the planet.


One of his biggest areas of expertise is housing, which he claims is a huge issue that almost never makes it to the national stage. Many Americans pay 50-60% of their income in rent, he claims, which leaves them scrambling to pay other expenses and makes them vulnerable in an emergency. He intends to make housing a major issue in the 2020 race, and if elected, he would expand low-income housing. He believes that this is the best way to ensure every American has a safe, decent, and affordable place to live.


Castro concluded by saying that in his mind every American counts and that casting a wider net of opportunity is how he plans to show that. He hopes that in the future we are “united in this country not by how we look but by what we value” and that this century is one that can make all Americans proud.