At virtual discussion, former presidential candidate Julián Castro talks voting, 2020 election prospects

“We need to speak up for accuracy and the truth,” Castro said

At virtual discussion, former presidential candidate Julián Castro talks voting, 2020 election prospects

Julián Castro sits down for a virtual discussion with School of Public Affairs Dean Vicky Wilkins.

Former 2020 presidential candidate and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro spoke with students via a virtual event on Sept. 10 about voting and advocacy ahead of November’s election.

Castro spent much of the event praising his former rival, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and talking about the importance of this election. He is hopeful that Biden will triumph, but expressed concern about voter disenfranchisement and disinformation being spread.

“I understand that tech companies need to strike a balance between allowing robust speech, especially when we’re talking about the marketplace of ideas, but it’s clear that we have a big problem and weakness in our democracy because of the ability to disinform and manipulate people’s thinking,” Castro said. “We need to speak up for accuracy and the truth.”

The event was hosted by The Sine Institute, Kennedy Political Union, The League of United Latin American Citizens and the Latinx and American Student Organization. School of Public Affairs Dean Vicky Wilkins served as a moderator, and students were able to submit questions for Castro in the second half of the discussion.

Castro also advocated for lowering the voting age from 18 to 17 years old, since he thinks every generation seems to grow up quicker than the next.

“We need to leverage the high school community as a place where people are able to learn civics and government and get people into a culture of voting before they leave high school,” Castro said. “It will make it that much more likely that they’ll vote later.”

Castro also touched on issues involving the Latinx community, for which he’s been advocating for throughout his entire career, citing how the pandemic has disproportionately affected members of the community. Castro also discussed the lack of representation for the community during last month’s Democratic National Convention, where he was one of the few former 2020 presidential candidates who did not speak.

“I do think that the DNC could’ve done a better job as far as showing Latinos and Latinas as leaders up there with their speaking spots,” Castro said. “We have a huge staple of very talented and powerful voices out there. Some of them were heard, but there are many more.”

Castro, a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard University, spoke to the struggles of being a Latinx student at a predominantly white institution and offered advice for those at AU. He addressed issues of impostor syndrome and self-doubt, encouraging students to remind themselves of how they achieved their goals. 

“If you’re there at AU, you’re there because you did well,” Castro said. “Believe in yourself and keep on doing what you’re doing in those moments when you feel like you don’t belong. You earned that spot there.”

Castro also explained how his experiences of being the son of an activist and the father of two young children has impacted his career and outlook on life and politics.

“Being a parent flips on the switch that makes it much more personal. You think about not only the world you want to inhabit but the world your children are going to inhabit and their children are going to inhabit after that,” Castro said.

Castro closed the event by talking about his future career. Although he isn’t planning on running “for any particular office,” he said he’ll do his part and work to serve in whatever way he can. 

“I can say that I think Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will have a wealth of people that can clean up the mess after Trump, but also do incredible things like tackling climate change and trying to root out corruption and ensuring we have an immigration system that has compassion and common sense to it,” he said.

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