We expected a lot from San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro tonight. Not only that, we needed a lot from the first Latino to ever give a keynote address at a Democratic National Convention. We needed Julian Castro to step up and speak for the real middle class. We needed Julian Castro to strip down the sugarcoated yearning masses story spun by Republican keynote speaker Marc Rubio last week (you remember; in between the Clint Eastwood empty chair debacle and some speech by a wax dummy who looked a lot like Mitt Romney).
We expected a lot from Julian Castro tonight ... and we got it. We got everything we needed and more: Validation. Truth. Hope. But not that fake opiate of the masses kind of hope they were trying to sell at the RNC -- a hope with its roots in reality. In statements like this one:
"Mitt Romney, quite simply, doesn't get it."
"A few months ago he visited a university in Ohio and gave the students there a little entrepreneurial advice. 'Start a business,' he said. But how? 'Borrow money if you have to from your parents,' he told them. Gee, why didn't I think of that? Some people are lucky enough to borrow money from their parents, but that shouldn't determine whether you can pursue your dreams. I don't think Governor Romney meant any harm. I think he's a good guy. He just has no idea how good he's had it."
EXACTLY. Julian Castro, you HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD. And for that, I could weep with middle class gratitude.
Castro's speech was so incredibly on target, I would be doing him a disservice by attempting to interpret his words. Instead, here are a few of tonight's most poignant passages:
"Twenty years ago, Joaquin and I left home for college and then for law school. In those classrooms, we met some of the brightest folks in the world. But at the end of our days there, I couldn't help but to think back to my classmates at Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio. They had the same talent, the same brains, the same dreams as the folks we sat with at Stanford and Harvard. I realized the difference wasn't one of intelligence or drive. The difference was opportunity."
"We know that in our free market economy some will prosper more than others. What we don't accept is the idea that some folks won't even get a chance. And the thing is, Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are perfectly comfortable with that America. In fact, that's exactly what they're promising us."
"The Romney-Ryan budget doesn't just cut public education, cut Medicare, cut transportation, and cut job training."
"It doesn't just pummel the middle class -- it dismantles it. It dismantles what generations before have built to ensure that everybody can enter and stay in the middle class. When it comes to getting the middle class back to work, Mitt Romney says, 'No.' When it comes to respecting women's rights, Mitt Romney says, 'No.' When it comes to letting people marry whomever they love, Mitt Romney says, 'No.' When it comes to expanding access to good health care, Mitt Romney says, 'No.'"
"Four years ago, America stood on the brink of a depression. Despite incredible odds and united Republican opposition, our president took action, and now we've seen 4.5 million new jobs. He knows better than anyone that there's more hard work to do, but we're making progress. And now we need to make a choice."
"It's a choice between a country where the middle class pays more so that millionaires can pay less -- or a country where everybody pays their fair share, so we can reduce the deficit and create the jobs of the future. It's a choice between a nation that slashes funding for our schools and guts Pell grants -- or a nation that invests more in education. It's a choice between a politician who rewards companies that ship American jobs overseas -- or a leader who brings jobs back home."
Again: Thank you, Julian Castro.
Did you see Julian Castro's speech at the DNC tonight?
Image via Jaime Puente/Flickr