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Why Julian Castro as Keynote is a BFD!

Yesterday it was announced that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will serve as the Keynote Speaker for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

As an organization, the Young Democrats of America should celebrate this announcement for many reasons. The first is that as an organization we have taken great strides in the last few years to ensure the Latino community has a greater voice in our politics and the democratic process. With the formation of the YDA Hispanic Caucus we join the Democratic National Committee and other allied organizations in celebrating the emergence of Latino voices in our discourse and in leading this great nation.

We have as an organization stood firm in our support for the DREAM Act and have applauded the recent actions taken by President Obama to ensure that millions of young people who have come to this nation through no fault of their own, are given an opportunity to continue to live in, contribute to, and serve a nation that in every metric imaginable is home.

And that is what this moment becomes about and why we should celebrate the fact that Mayor Castro, at just 37, will serve as one of the youngest people to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.

The selection of Mayor Castro is a powerful statement of the rightness of our party’s vision for our nation. That in this nation, a young man, who like so many of us, was raised in a single parent family, in poverty, with low-expectations from many outside of his immediate family of what he could accomplish, is now not only the youngest mayor of a Top-50 city in the nation, but will stand with the First Lady of the United States and address millions of his fellow Americans is in itself proof positive that we are a party that not only believes in America’s exceptionalism but our members are the embodiment of America’s exceptionalism.

That Mayor Castro is young also sends a powerful signal of the importance of our generational opportunity and responsibility. We have all read the polls that suggest, with great validity, that we will be the margin of victory this time around, and that no doubt played a part in the Mayor’s selection. However, his acceptance of this honor should also serve as an example to the rest of us, that it is not just enough to believe in President Obama or even the Democratic party itself, we are required to not only believe, but to act.

As an organization, we too are accepting this responsibility. We certainly understand the importance of organizing and registering people to vote and volunteering on behalf of campaigns and we have a stellar record of accomplishments on the local, state, and national level. Yet, when the elections are over, as Mayor Castro’s leadership is evidence of, we must begin the work of shaping America, city by city and state by state. We have accepted this responsibility through a host of initiatives, advocacy pushes, and support for (or sometimes against) legislation, all geared towards putting our beliefs into action.

We are required to stand up for what we believe in and use whatever platform at our disposal to shape the future we will not only inherit, but that we and future generations deserve. Mayor Castro will no doubt speak a great deal about his record leading San Antonio, a record which accounts for his overwhelming re-election by 83 percent of the vote. That leadership is what makes him extraordinary. That commitment to and action implementing the ideals that have shaped our nation and our party is why we should be both elated and inspired by Julian Castro.

And that in the backyard of Governor Rick Perry who has managed to paint, with a broad brush, an unfortunate characterization of a state that has given us Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez, Former San Antonio Mayor, HUD Secretary, (and my mom’s old boss) Henry Cisneros, and the Great Governor Ann Richards, the selection of Mayor Castro is one more great recognition that just because the media paints a state red, it does not mean there are not those of us on the blue team fighting the good fight and winning!

Colmon Elridge

Executive Vice President

Young Democrats of America