Latino Vote 2012: DNC Keynote Speaker Julian Castro Will Not Win Obama the Hispanic Vote


Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, will be the DNC Keynote Speaker this year, making him the first Hispanic keynote speaker in history. A native-born Texan, Castro is the son of Rosie Castro-- leader of the Chicano political movement that sought equal rights for Hispanics. 

Along with his twin brother, Joaquin, Julian completed his undergraduate program at Stanford University and later graduated from Harvard Law School. At age 37, the mayor of San Antonio and next DNC’s Keynote Speaker, Castro is expected to follow in Obama’s footsteps.

Julian’s selection to deliver the keynote speech was a strategic choice aimed at strengthening the Hispanic vote for Obama. As a result, many have looked towards the GOP reaction and methods of garnering Latino votes for candidate, Mitt Romney. However, it was the Democratic Party who had reacted to the Republican’s previous approach. Ana Navarro, Senator McCain’s National Hispanic Co-Chair (2008), points out that the party already has “three Republican statewide Hispanics that have been elected since the last RNC, with the added bonus all three represent swing states, all three have compelling personal stories and I fully expect to see at least one if not all three showcased in Tampa.”

Castro's selection is expected to gain Hispanic votes in favor of the Democratic Party, while for the GOP their key Hispanic player is Marco Rubio. Yet what exactly is the Hispanic vote? First, we must define what a Hispanic is. Would someone like to clarify what Hispanics these parties are referring to? If they’re alluding to Castro’s Mexican heritage or even Rubio’s Cuban ancestry, they’re missing a large chunk of people. 

These parties, as well as the media and unfortunately a majority of Americans, automatically assume that all Hispanics are exactly the same. In two magical words (Hispanic and Latino), we’ve managed to group together people from 21 countries, including Spain, Mexico, Central and South America. That assumption is absolutely ridiculous. It’s like saying Americans, Brits and Australians are all the same because they speak English. Each country boasts a plethora of dialects and languages quite different from Spanish, customs, religions, beliefs, social and economic classes, races, and especially ideologies that are completely at odds with each other. Not to mention the difference between Hispanic immigrants and American-born Hispanics. To even fathom that using an American-born Mexican mayor or an American-born Cuban Senator as bait to attract the Hispanic vote doesn’t even make logical sense.

Aside from assuming that us Hispanics are all the same, these parties have also assumed that Hispanics all vote as a unit. Not only do they vote as a unit, but also that we vote on issues pertinent only to Hispanics. For example, some of the issues most commonly associated to Hispanics are immigration policies because -- of course -- Hispanics are the only immigrants in this country (never mind the fact that Asian immigrants are outnumbering Hispanic ones).

Hats off to these political games – a round of applause for both the Democrats and Republicans. So who’s going to be the next pawn in the 2016 election? Because if it’s an Asian keynote speaker, I want to have a serious conversation with the person that classifies Chinese and Japanese people under the same vote.