Julian Castro would make for strong choice as Clinton’s vice president

Taral Patel

In the 1960s, while Texas Democrats held all the reins of power in DC, native Texas son, President Lyndon B. Johnson, delivered a series of poverty-combating legislation to increase the quality of life for all Americans, signed into law the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, empowering minority communities across America to take their destinies into their own hands, and ran the U.S. Government like the productive, solution-implementing machine it should be. His work prompted the Democratic Party to shed its anti-civil rights, pro-segregation right wing, but it also turned the South over to the GOP.

The admirable but politically difficult decisions made by LBJ and a few, brave progressive southern Democrats like Texas’ Ralph Yarborough (the only southern senator to vote for all civil rights bills)  planted seeds of change and helped a new generation of Democrats embrace their heritage of progressive action. With the protections of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, Latinos, African Americans and other minority communities in the South have slowly and steadily nurtured a base of progressive support and taken action to position their communities for greater prominence in the political arena.

Julian Castro is the latest — and certainly the most promising — inheritor of LBJ’s legacy. As the former mayor of San Antonio, America’s seventh-largest city, Julian advanced a progressive agenda despite an incredibly hostile political opposition. He fought for key initiatives like universal pre-K and urban renewal, and passed an anti-discrimination statute to protect LGBTQ San Antonians. Julian Castro doesn’t just preach the progressive gospel; he has built an executive track record of crafting uncanny and diverse coalitions to enact long-lasting, progressive change.

Deep into President Obama’s term, Julian was appointed the 16th Housing and Urban Development Secretary. As Secretary, Julian has gained further experience in executive office. During his tenure, Julian strengthened the ConnectHome project to expand broadband access in public housing, banned smoking to protect health and lives of residents in public housing and successfully pushed through the most progressive HUD rules since the passing of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to combat institutional discrimination in housing.

Since his inspirational keynote at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Julian has crisscrossed the country to raise the profile of the Latino electorate and has spoken extensively on behalf of Sec. Clinton’s campaign to generate support among young and Latino Americans. President Obama and Secretary Castro share essential elements of their life stories: both were raised by single mothers, went to Harvard Law, became involved in politics through grassroots movements, and went on to become successful, young and barrier-breaking elected leaders. And just as Pres. Obama energized an entire generation of young Americans to vote — many for the first time — in 2008 and 2012, and just as Sen. Sanders has tapped into the enthusiasm of many of my peers and friends this election cycle, Julian can help Sec. Clinton continue to build support and trust among young Americans ahead of what is sure to be a fierce general election.

Julian is a strong pro-choice, pro-immigration reform voice with actual executive experience and a proven ability to connect with young and minority Americans. Dispatching Julian not only as a surrogate but as the vice presidential candidate would also significantly help mobilize the large Hispanic communities that can help push the margins in battleground states and shift the narrative in traditionally red states like Texas. Choosing Julian would be a wise, strategic and vital move to keep America moving in the right direction.

Patel is a Spring 2016 graduate from The University of Texas at Austin and served as the Student Government Chief of Staff from 2015 to 2016.