This past week, President Obama nominated San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Since then, news outlets have speculated that Castro will be making headlines in the future as the Vice Presidential running mate for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Presidential nominee in 2024. Castro’s nomination has had national Democrats drooling as though he was manna sent from heaven. But much like Jesse Jackson, Jr., John Edwards, and several other "Presidents in waiting", Julian Castro’s shining star will eventually dim into the night.
Every commentator who has been in awe of Castro has pointed to three reasons why he will eventually become President: national appeal, youthfulness, and Hispanic. These are the same reasons why I believe he will not be President. So lets take a little time to explore each of these issues.
First is Castro’s national appeal. Much like then Senator Obama in 2004 or Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1928, Castro gave an astonishing keynote address in 2012. His charismatic appeal to the nation made many in the packed Charlotte Convention Center dub him as the next President of the United States. The reason Castro will not be like Obama or Roosevelt is because of time. Obama first addressed the Democratic National Convention in 2004 and was nominated in 2008. Roosevelt addressed the convention in 1928; he was nominated in 1932. Obama was elected to the US Senate in November 2004 and Roosevelt was elected Governor of New York in November 1928. In other words, both Presidents did not wait in line to run for the office. They used their new found fame to get elected to offices with continuous national appeal. As Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Castro will be put on the back burner as issues such as foreign affairs, the national budget, and problems with veterans’ affairs with take precedence over other concerns. If Castro truly wanted to become President, now would be the time to use his national appeal to go after the job.
Which brings up the second reason, many national Democrats are fawning over Mayor Castro. At 39, Castro will be the youngest member of President Obama’s cabinet. In 2016, Castro will be 42 and most would like for him to be Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidential running mate. Since Clinton will lose Texas in the general and many Cuban Americans in Florida find disdain to the name Castro (whether or not they are related to Fidel Castro), he will definitely not be her running mate. Clinton’s running mate will definitely be a white male with appeal in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia. Castro will not be that man. Clinton may tap him for a cabinet post such as Labor or Transportation, but nothing beyond that. That means he would have to wait until 2024, at which time he will be 50 and still sitting on the back burner. In other words, his national appeal will begin to become faint as he gets older and a newer model comes to the national stage.
And then there is the fact that he is Hispanic. National Democrats point to the numerous statistics that the Hispanic community in the US will continue to grow more than any other race. But those statistics do not show any growth in the voting patterns of the Hispanic community. Much like our community, Hispanic Americans have the numbers to hold much political clot and make major changes to the nation, but just do not participate in elections. Will Castro be able to get Hispanics to the polls, as President Obama was able to get African Americans in 2008 and 2012? No. The reason is simple: Julian Castro does not speak Spanish. That would be fine for getting elected to a regional office, such as Mayor or even Congress, but it will not fly nationally. Much as President Obama had some problems with the African American community for not "being Black-enough", Castro will be challenged by many older Hispanic leaders. Castro’s position on immigration reform cannot be moderate, which will cost him the November election.
Though I do believe that Julian Castro would make a fine US President, I truly believe that time and politics will not be on his side. I also believe that we will have a strong Hispanic contender for the Presidency in 2024 or 2028, but Julian Castro will not be that one. #ijs