In This Episode
DeRay, Kaya, De’Ara, and Sam dive into recent overlooked news including coronavirus test delays, Trump cancelling racial sensitivity training, Miami-Dade’s cyberattacks, and Pasco County’s pre-crime program. Johnetta Elzie joins again to update us about developments around the current protests. Then, DeRay chats with Julián Castro about his new podcast “Our America” and where he thinks the country is headed.
DeRay [00:00:01] Hey, this is DeRay, and welcome to Pod Save the People. This week, it’s me, Sam, Kaya, and De’Ara, as usual.
DeRay [00:00:06] And we talk about the news that you don’t know from the week before. And then we have Netta talking to us with a check in about the protests and what’s going on around the country with regard to race and justice as people are still in the street. And then I sat down and talk to Julian Castro to discuss the road to the election in November and his new podcast, Our America from Luminada Media. Now, this week, the four of us, me, Sam Kaya, and De’Ara are all over the country. So we have our news coming a little bit differently because of Labor Day. But the news is still here.
DeRay [00:00:40] As always. My advice for this week is chase the question. Every day I wake up chasing the question, how do we get to zero? What’s the best way to get to zero?
DeRay [00:00:51] These are the questions that I wake up with, the questions I got to sleep with. I’m trying to live in a world where the police don’t kill people. That also means it’ll be a world where we transition away from the police as a key to public safety. But like, that’s my question. How do we get to zero? And my advice to everybody who is a new organizer or an old organizer is like, what is the question you are chasing? And the reason for that is if you are not chasing a question, you might chase a host of other things. I know some people who started off with good intentions, who are chasing fame, who are chasing fortune, who are chasing notoriety, who are chasing a whole lot of things. But they are not chasing a question. They are not chasing impact, right? And we want to make sure that we chase a question about how to change the world. Let’s do it. So my news this week is about clinical trials. Now, we’ve talked about Covid 19. I think we’ve even mentioned clinical trials at one point on the pod, but I really hadn’t thought about the range of unintended consequences of the shutdown and quarantine and like what the long term costs will be. So there’s an article in Fierce biotech with the headline, “More than two thirds of trials hit by Covid 19, enrollment halts with mid-state tests the worst affected.” So what they find is that nearly two hundred companies have stopped or delayed their trials over the pandemic. And when they drill down into the numbers, they said that it was about 70 percent clinical trials disrupted by Covid 19, where due to patients not being allowed into the studies, because like we’re on lockdown or quarantene, while the delayed start of planned trials follows at eighteen point four percent. So like some trials couldn’t even start. And then the last chunk, about 15 percent of trials are currently being impacted due to slow enrollment. So it’s interesting. And then they talk about, within the 14 percent of the slow enrollment, 20 percent of those are specifically due to the availability of sites and investigators being low. And you think about like all of the research, AIDS, cancer, like a range of diseases where we might have been close to getting really good progress and all of a sudden the trials stopped and it might have to restart or might go much slower than it was before. And, you know, I’m interested to see more reporting and more conversations about the impact of this as we think about solutions, as we think about what will the learning be for the medical industry so that if this happens again, a whole set of trials won’t be taken out. And given that the consequences of this have been so great. Is there a way to potentially fast track to put the trials back on track in ways that don’t put the public at risk of having something that they take that they think is medicine and it actually hurts them? So this is fascinating. I wanted to bring you here because I haven’t heard as much conversation about it. I hope that we talk about it as this issue continues. The other thing is thinking about how many investigators and staff might be getting repurposed from whatever trial they were working on to Covid 19 trials. And it is this sort of interesting thing. How do you build this space that it can just accommodate a crisis? Because if we stop all cancer research, because we’re doing Covid 19 research, that is not a win necessarily for the overall space. And it’s like I hadn’t even considered these things, especially when you think about, I can only imagine how this is disaggregated by race. How many clinical trials that impact people of color? How many sets of research, like I can think about how this probably disproportionate impacts marginalized people. But just as a topic to consider, hadn’t even understood it.
Kaya [00:04:24] My news this week is about school reopening in the category of “just when you thought it couldn’t get any more complicated.” Here we are. Last week, Miami-Dade Public Schools, which is the fourth largest school district in the country, reopened on Monday and they were plagued by successive days of cyber attacks. The district suffered a distributed denial of service attack Monday morning as a software glitch blocked access to the district’s servers, rendering teaching nearly impossible. Over 200,000 students were logged on and their classes wouldn’t load or they were loading really slowly, there were error messages and there were other technical difficulties. The good news is there was no compromise of any user’s privacy or their information. The FBI and the Secret Service were called in. And on Thursday, they arrested a 16 year old student at South Miami Senior High School who admitted to orchestrating eight cyber attacks designed to overwhelm the district’s networks. Other people may have been involved in the attack and the investigation continues. In fact, school districts are increasingly being targeted for hacks and cyber attacks. We’re seeing Zoom bombing, phishing scams. School districts’ payments rerouted and other kinds of data breaches. In fact, a cyber attack in a Los Angeles school district shut down virtual classes after a malware attack crippled the entire district system. Now, a school reopening was complicated already. And our amazing educators and administrators and parents and students and families are trying their very best to return to the kind of normalcy that our kids need, the kind of routine, the kinds of regularity that our young people need in these uncertain moments and to have people taking advantage of that by attacking the computer systems. In fact, the systems that allow us to either participate or not participate in the education space is just tragic. This is probably the hardest opening of school ever. This will probably be one of the hardest school years ever. And my heart goes out to all of the folks who are trying to make it happen at a level of quality and a level of excellence for our students. And I expect I heard Alberto Carvalho, who is the superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools, say that he will pursue relief to the fullest extent of the law. And I think that people who take advantage of our public institutions in moments like these deserve that kind of aggressive pursuit. Keep sending good vibes to these educators. Keep sending good vibes to these administrators, keep sending good vibes to these parents and students who are doing the best they can to make an unfortunate situation work for them. Our kids deserve better.
Sam [00:07:20] Hey, it’s Sam.
Sam [00:07:22] And today, my news is about Pasco County, Florida, where the Tampa Bay Times just released an in-depth investigation into a program that the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has been implementing, using data and what it calls “intelligence led policing,” which is a predictive policing model to identify and intimidate over a thousand local residents based on faulty data. So what does that mean? Well, it means that the sheriff’s office has developed a program that assigns a certain number of points to people based on their past criminal history, based on things that don’t actually involve any past criminal activity. So if you are a witness or a victim in a crime and your name’s in a police report, you get more points. If you are admitted to a psychiatric hospital, you get more points. So they are assigning points to people, essentially a risk assessment score based on a number of things, many of which have nothing to do with whether or not you actually committed a previous crime and whether or not you are likely to commit any future crops. And then they take this data and this list of over a thousand residents in Pasco County. And what this article details are the ways in which the sheriff’s deputies have intervened to harass and annoy and intimidate and issue a range of fines and fees for little things like not mowing the grass. And in one case, somebody had chickens in their backyard and the sheriffs issued a hefty fine for that. And it’s all part of a strategy that even the sheriff’s office says is designed to essentially intimidate people into leaving town if they are flagged by this database as potentially being a risk. And so, you know, this is fascinating for a number of reasons. It is fascinating when you look at the data, how many of the folks that were added to this list are actually children. So one in every 10 people on the list is under the age of 18. There’s a case in this article of a 15 year old boy who had the police show up at his house 21 times to interrogate him and his family just because he was added to this list. And what’s also fascinating about this is the ways in which it reflects a broader trend among police agencies to adopt technology and particularly predictive policing technologies that purport to use data to predict and prevent crime. But in reality, when you unpack the algorithms, when you unpack the methodology that’s being implemented in many of these cities, it ends up taking data that is already flawed, data that is already racially biased because it reflects police activity, which is often racially biased, feeds that into the system and outputs a list of people that is itself reinforcing those racial biases in the data that was input into it. And so the effect is to amplify discrimination and racial bias in policing and not at all to prevent crime or protect people and ensure public safety. So that is what predictive policing has been doing across the country. Pasco County seems to be one of the latest examples and most egregious examples of just how this technology is being weaponized in ways that send police to the doors of thousands of people repeatedly to intimidate them. But it’s all the more reason why we have to push back against the adoption of these technologies. Why we have to push for transparency in how those technologies are being used in the places that are already using them and how data as a tool is often weaponized against us by the agencies that purport to protect and serve.
De’Ara [00:11:12] My news this week is from The Washington Post. It talks about a memo that came from the White House’s Office of Management Budget on September 4th. In the memo. It’s it’s getting to the point where some of this is so ridiculous, It’s laughable, but it’s actually really, really serious and it’s really, really dangerous.
De’Ara [00:11:31] President Trump is now putting an end to any federal agency, any federal office that engages in unconscious bias training, racial sensitivity training. In their words. I didn’teven though they knew words like this, I didn’t know they they knew paradigms like this. But anything that has to do with critical race theory now must come to an end. That essentially federal tax dollars aren’t going to go towards making inclusive and equitable workplaces. Obviously, my words, not their words, but this memo said things like this. “These types of trainings not only run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our nation has stood since its inception, but they also engender division and resentment within the federal workforce.” It goes on to say, and this is from the director of OMB. “The president has directed me to ensure that federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive un-American propaganda training sessions.”
De’Ara [00:12:28] So it goes on and on and on. And so, so many things.
De’Ara [00:12:32] I mean, it makes a lot of sense that obviously this would be their position in giving the spewing and the consistency of racial epithets and racial slurs that Donald Trump uses during press conferences on Twitter, etc.. We’ll see how federal employees respond to this. You know, I think, you know, as a federal employee, you’re obviously, you know, you have to be bipartisan. You can’t outwardly support candidates for office. So, you know, I think, one, what it does is it silences them in a lot of ways, but we’ll see what happens. It’s just, I thought it important to bring it up because they are working to the very end every single day to find ways to continue ending the things that, you know, we’ve been fighting for for decades, from civil rights to inclusion to equity. What have you. So check it out for yourselves. Keep an eye on it.
DeRay [00:13:24] Don’t go anywhere, more Pod Save the People’s coming.
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DeRay [00:15:50] Netta, Netta, Netta, Netta. Let us know what’s going on with the current state of the protest and what’s happening on policing.
Netta [00:15:55] Hey, what’s up? Everybody it’s Netta, and thanks for tuning back in. This week, I am tired, but I’m tired for a great reason. And her name is Sage. She is a Cavachon puppy. She’s 12 weeks. And I picked her up from a farm, an Amish farm in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. And we’ve just been kicking it ever since. We’re getting used to each other, which includes lots of tales of me wanting to pull my hair out with my friends in group chats about what the puppy is up to. But she’s being a puppy, and I think she’s having a great time. So that’s what matters. So FYI that just means there’s a new boss in this house and her name is Sage.
Netta [00:16:38] So I’ll admit when I saw the protest movement hit the world of sports, I wasn’t sure it would actually last. Nearly four years to the day that Colin Kaepernick sacrificed his NFL career to kneel in protest of police brutality, professional athletes are still using their platforms to speak out. The world of tennis got a taste last week when Naomi Osaka donned a Brianna Taylor mass before her U.S. Open match. The 22 year old, who is also the highest paid female athlete in sports, using her platform to speak out on social justice issues concerning black women killed by the police is a big deal. When sked, Osaka said, “I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Brianna Taylor’s story. Maybe they’ll like Google it or something. For me, just spreading awareness. I feel like the more people know the story than the more interesting or interested they’ll become in it.” And this isn’t a fad for Naomi. A few days ago, she took to the court with a mask bearing Ahmaud Arbery’s name before her third round U.S. Open match. So shout out to Naomi for using her platform in a way that matters. In another sign that the movement is moving and shaking, detroit police revised their use of force policy to adopt some of the recommendations put forth by Campaign Zero in our Eeight Can’t Wait initiative. The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners revised its use of force policy during an August 25th meeting.
Netta [00:18:08] Highlights from the policy revisions include: a ban on chokeholds in neck restraints, prohibiting firing at a moving vehicle, a duty to intervene to prevent other officers from using excessive force, and the requirement of de-escalation tactics, such as a verbal warning before force can be used. I can’t lie, it’s been a long time since six years ago in the streets of Ferguson, and when I first walked outside on that hot August day, I could not have ever imagined that I would be a part of anything that would help impact policy all over the country. And with new fights for our lives happening every day in every community, the changing of laws and policies can’t come fast enough. Unfortunately, all the news last week wasn’t good. We got introduced to two more people whose names we should have never known, not because they are not important, but because they should have never gone down in the history books for being killed by police. Each time I hear about police killing an unarmed man or woman, I always wonder about the names and faces and stories that we don’t see. The stories that don’t make the news. The stories that don’t qualify for being important. That question was unfortunately answered on March 30th. Daniel Prude of Rochester, New York, died one week after the police confronted him on a city street. During the encounter, police handcuffed Prude, placed a hood over his face and laid his naked body down in the street. Rochester officials have been investigating since mid April, but the Prude family released the video recently and magically they have seemed to have gotten more progress. Just days after the video release, Rochester has seen multiple nights of protests and the officers involved have finally been suspended but just suspended. New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, will also conduct an investigation. When protesters are chanting “no justice, no peace,” this is what we are talking about. The material conditions around proved tragic death at the hands of police didn’t change from March to August. They were no less wrong on the day that the family released the video than they were when Prude took his final breath. And no less wrong when the officials began their investigation back in April. It’s worth pointing out two things here. First, the protest in Rochester, overpoliced violence, have you guessed it, been met with more police violence. And second, this is yet another reminder that elected officials and police have to be compelled to do the right thing, and if getting justice means that people have to keep taking to the streets to get some action. That’s exactly what we’re going to do. Last week, we were also introduced to Deon Kay via hash tag, a barely 18 year old boy who was shot and killed by police in D.C., according to a body camera footage, Kay was in possession of a firearm, but did not appear to be aiming at police when he was fatally shot in the chest. The killing sparked protests throughout the city. Ya’ll, there’s a lot that can be said here, but it ultimately comes down to two things: the function of the police and the growing list of crimes punishable by death. When we talk about the latter, there seems to be a fully functioning two tiered justice system being in possession of a gun or drugs or a toy gun or raising your voice or asking why you’re being detained or being under the influence. That list goes on. It’s important to remember that none of these are things that people should be killed for, especially when we see police reacting calmly to armed white militia in our streets. If we aren’t descending into a world where Judge Dredd is the norm, we should all be raising our voices. And if you’re not a comic book fan, Google that, I promise it’ll make sense. And second, the role of the police is expanding, which puts us all at risk. We’ve seen a 70 something year old white man shoved to the ground and stepped over as he bled out. We’re seeing protesters routinely tear gassed. A literal war crime protest over police violence are met with more police violence. How wild is any of this? Some police will tell you that there is a war on cops. But when one side has military grade equipment and the other side has umbrellas, skateboards, cell phones and social media, how much of a war is it? I fear that as this movement grows, we’re also seeing further slide towards fascism and that should concern us all. It’s black men and women killed in the streets yesterday. Protesters being teargassed today and it could be your turn tomorrow. I hate to end this on such a somber note, but I can only tell you what I know to be true. What we’re seeing now, what we saw in Ferguson six years ago can not be our permanent normal. Until next week ya’ll. See you soon.
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DeRay [00:25:52] And now my conversation with Julian Castro who had one of the most inspiring runs in this year’s Democratic primary. His campaign was one of the only ones that was strong on the police and where he suspended his campaign, he didn’t suspend his commitment to changing America.
DeRay [00:26:05] And that’s why he has a new podcast on our America, where he speaks truth to power on issues across the spectrum with an honesty that’s actually refreshing, because I’ve been around a lot of politicians and, whew, they all sound the same. But not him. He has a new take on a set of issues that we’ve heard before and he is bringing conversations to the fore that should have been here a long time ago.
DeRay [00:26:26] And I’m thankful that he is a person shining light. You should listen. He’s the man.
DeRay [00:26:33] Let’s go. Julian Castro, thank you so much for joining us today on Pod Save the People.
Julian Castro [00:26:37] Hey, thanks for having me. Glad to be here.
DeRay [00:26:40] So you’re about to join the podcast family. It is, you are starting your own podcast, which we are, I’m pumped about. Can you talk about, you’ve done so much from running for president to being in an administration to being the Mayor of San Antonio, I mean, it’s been a ton. Why a podcast?
Julian Castro [00:26:56] You, no,
Julian Castro [00:26:57] You know, it’s something I’m really excited about. Over the last few years, I traveled to something like a hundred different communities in this country and forty something states. And I met a lot of people who were so inspiring. And oftentimes people who are struggling just to make it in our country. And I wanted a place where I could tell those stories about people and their lives. Folks whose stories often aren’t heard and how we could do it in a way that addresses their struggle. That talks about how the American experience shifts from person to person, and then also does it in a hopeful way and a humanizing way. And so I’m excited about this podcast. And already some of the episodes that we’re putting together, I think people are really going to like. We talked to, a woman named Arletta Swain, who lives in a mobile home community in Waukee, Iowa. And she and her fellow residents a year and a half or so ago got a letter from a private equity group telling them that their mobile home community had just been bought out and letting them know that they were going to raise the rent by about 69 percent. For most of these folks who are on a fixed income, you know, who are people of modest means. It was a shock. And our conversation is about what did they do next and what does this say for a lot of other communities that are facing the same thing? We are interviewing people in Las Vegas about how the community there has grappled with homelessness a couple months back. Some people may have seen this image of homeless individuals sleeping in these boxes in a parking lot. These are chalk outline boxes to stay at least six feet apart from each other during Covid 19.
Julian Castro [00:28:47] But instead of putting people, you know, in a shelter in a place where they had a roof over their head, they put him in this parking lot in the city. We want to focus on that, because when I was running for president, I visited there and saw these storm drainage tunnels that run underneath the Las Vegas Strip where people live. I had never heard of them before. I had already been housing secretary, been to Vegas several times, in fact, been to Vegas to help mark the functional end of veteran homelessness there, but didn’t know anything about the irony of the storm drainage tunnels that run underneath hotels that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars where people spend so much money and people were living like that.
DeRay [00:29:34] That makes you think about, there must be so many parts of the country that you saw running for president that is just different, right? Like you didn’t see in the administration. You didn’t see as mayor. What are some of those places? Like you talked about, this is one place. But like I have to imagine that there are so many more, you know?
Julian Castro [00:29:54] You know, I learned a lot in the presidential campaign, especially about rural communities because of the nature of the presidential race, right? You’re spending a lot of time, especially in Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada. And so we traveled the back roads of these states a lot. Of course, you spend time in in Des Moines or Manchester or Las Vegas, but we also spent a lot of time in smaller communities. I remember hearing a lot about the challenges that those communities are having with their kids, parents who are talking about their kids leaving and then not coming back because they could only find opportunity in other places and having to, you know, only see their grandkids once every couple of years at Thanksgiving or at Christmas during the holidays. Saw firsthand that a lot of these challenges we think about as urban challenges, housing, for instance. Housing is getting more more expensive in a lot of these smaller towns, too. And it’s falling apart. You know, we haven’t focused on those challenges in that way. So it was eye opening. And if I had not been running for president, I would not have been educated about those challenges and the problems that people in those communities face in the same way.
DeRay [00:31:16] Now, I do want to ask you, since you’re here, about the DNC and why do you think you weren’t invited to participate, especially given the focus on the issues that you have brought to the table, the way you’ve done the work, you were a presidential candidate. What was that? Do you have any idea?
Julian Castro [00:31:32] I know that there was some back and forth about what happened there. I was not invited to speak, you know, as a primetime speaker. I was asked if I would be in a cameo in a video that was being put together for it. And, you know, did not end up doing that. I did express my concern in general, not about my participation, but about the relative lack of Latinos and Latinas in the primetime lineup. I think the convention did a pretty good job of telling the stories of everyday people through anecdotes. I remember a woman named Kristen Urquiza that talked about her father, who was 65 and passed away from Cocid 19, because he listened to the president and he didn’t end up taking the virus as seriously as perhaps he should have. There was a young girl who talked about her mom being deported and her father, who was, you know, in the service and defending our country. So when it comes to the Latinx community, I do think that we had some powerful stories. Eva Longoria was also there. And she’s not only an actor, she’s been an activist for quite a while. All of that was good. But I also think that, look, you need to highlight each of these communities as leaders too. And I do believe that the convention fell short there. They had some great folks who were a part of it. But I think that they could’ve done a better job. It’s a learning experience, hopefully, for the convention, and that’s improved in the next few years. I was happy to do my part. I still did, I think like nine different state delegation and caucus visits where we did it through Zoom doing what I can to help Joe Biden get elected in November. And Kamala Harris get elected. I think this is an all hands on deck election where all of us need to use our voice. We need to use the reach of our network. Every one of us who is privileged to be in the position that we’re in where, you know, we have the ability to have some influence. We need to use it now. And I did do that during the convention. And I’ll keep doing it between now and November and beyond that. And I think overall, the DNC came off well. But there are always things that can be improved.
DeRay [00:33:51] Now, would you be in would you be in the cabinet again if you were asked? Is that like, is a goal to be in, in another cabinet? Is, would you be in it if asked. You were in the cabinet before. Is that?
Julian Castro [00:34:02] Well, I wouldn’t yes. I wouldn’t say it’s a goal. In fact, right now I’m not aiming toward any office. When I got out of the Obama administration in early 2017, you know, I had a good idea that I was going to be running for president, that I wanted to do that. Now, after this presidential campaign, you know, I don’t feel compelled to run for anything right away and or to be in a political office. I’m not taking that off the table. It’s possible. And of course, if I were asked to serve, I would definitely consider that I still have a heart for public service. I enjoy the opportunity to try and make people’s lives better through public service, but I don’t feel like I have to be in that. One of the silver linings right now for me is that these last few months have been a total 180 from the 14 or 15 months before, whereas before I was on the road all the time, gone 75 percent of the time from home. Now, I’ve been able to be here, spend time with my family, spend time with my kids who were eleven years old and five years old. So at a very critical time in their life. In terms of judging anything like whether I would do it or not in the future, I would have to think even harder about how that would mesh with with my family.
DeRay [00:35:22] So what is next, right.? One of the things that, one of the things that we loved and were surprised by, were proud of, like always shocked by was the way that she were unapologetic about the police, for instance, that like you just you named it, you didn’t put out things that people thought were solutions that we knew didn’t work. Like you sort of tackled it head on. And I’m interested in, like, what comes next. You said that you’re not running for something, and that must be both sort of interesting and refreshing to not be a candidate, to be a perpetual candidate. For things, because like running is a whole life. But what comes next for you?
Julian Castro [00:35:56] Yeah, I’m going to keep using my voice in every way that I can to make sure that we bring about an America where everybody counts, where no matter who you are, you have an opportunity to prosper. One of the ways that I’m doing that is by helping other people get elected. I launched People First Future, which is a PAC that is supporting and investing in bold progressive’s throughout the country from Congress all the way down to city council and community races, because I think that we need a strong bench at the federal, state and local level of people who have the courage of their convictions that are going to take the right steps, that are not only in a vote, but provide leadership on reimagining public safety, on making sure that everybody has a safe, decent, affordable place to live.
Julian Castro [00:36:45] On seeing the nuance in policy so that we don’t leave communities behind, like we do too often times today based on their identity and who they are. I’m very proud that during this cycle we’re supporting something like 37 different candidates so far, including some exciting ones right around me. You know, folks like Candice Valenzuela, who’s running in the 24th Congressional District in Texas in the suburbs of DFW. She would be the first Afro Latino elected to Congress. If she gets elected. I mean, just folks like that that I’m very proud of, that I think Americans would be very proud of.
Julian Castro [00:37:23] And that I know with our email list, with putting resources on the table that we can help get elected. I also am partnering with Voto Latino in November to register over 500,000 young Latinos and Latinos to vote so that we can close that gap and make sure that the growing Latinx community has a strong voice in this election. And I’ll keep doing those things.
DeRay [00:37:51] Well, you know, you think that when you talk about in November, you talk about voting. I am both sort of hopeful and worried. And, you know, there’s this critique, this is it, that the left just is not prepared to fight him back that like he does whenever he’s, like, ripping mailboxes up off the ground and done all this wild stuff and that the Left just keep having press conferences about it. What’s your take on that? Do you think that people are fighting back like the party is fighting back well enough? What could we be doing better to make sure that Trump is out of here in November? Like, what’s the what?
Julian Castro [00:38:24] Look, one of the good things about this cycle is that the resources are there. I mean, just yesterday, Joe Biden and the DNC announced that they had jointly raised three hundred sixty four and a half million dollars in August. That shatters every record, probably have more cash on hand than Donald Trump and the RNC at this point. That means at least the resources are there. The question is, OK, well, what do you do with those resources? We need a full court press to protect voting rights and access when the president is trying to undermine it, to reach out to communities that we need to get off the sidelines and into the voting booths. African-American turnout fell from 66 percent to fifty nine and a half percent from 2012 to 2016. Latino turnout fell from forty eight and a half percent to 47 percent. You know, between those two elections. We lost Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by 77,000 votes collectively. That means that these things count. They make a difference. So what are we doing in terms of voter outreach, mobilization? We need to be making those investments now. We also ultimately I think what we need to do is not take anything for granted. A lot of us didn’t think that Trump was going to win. I didn’t think he was going to win in 2016. We should have learned our lesson. We can’t take anything for granted. Everybody can start with themself. Make sure you have a plan to vote. Talk to your family members, the people that you’re closest to, that you know. You know, all of us have family members that sometimes they don’t vote. They should be voting, but they don’t. Make sure they vote this time and be the loudest advocate that you can. Obviously, in a respectful way out there for people getting out and voting and voting for the Democratic ticket.
DeRay [00:40:13] Are there any narratives that you think we need to go out in front of? And I ask because I was just I was in D.C. a weekend ago and I was in a CVS and two cashiers. Both black women we’re having this debate about, well this conversation, wasn’t really a debate, about Kamila not really being black. And it was. It was like the Republican talking points, right? It was like “they’re just using her to.” And I was actually really surprised because it was like, wow, the Internet and like communities are two very different things, right? And I’d be interested if they’re any of those narratives that you think are actually narratives we need to get in front of in community that, like the Internet just isn’t talking about.
Julian Castro [00:40:49] Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a lot. In the Latino community, the idea that Joe Biden and Barack Obama are the same thing as Donald Trump when it comes to immigration, this idea that somehow Democrats are involved in pedophilia or sex trafficking and. There is a lot of stuff, disinformation, malicious information that is put out there through Facebook, through YouTube. And when people start going down that path, they click that first one. They watch the video or read the article. You know, with those algorithms, it feeds you more and more of that. And I’ve talked to more than one person that I thought, oh, wow, that person would be a Democrat. And then they start spewing out this stuff. I had a conversation like this probably about three months ago with a waitress at a restaurant. And it was a respectful conversation. But she was a young woman who started talking about some of this stuff and, you know, the conspiracy theory. And where else do people get that except through Facebook or through the Internet? But that’s happening. People are being targeted for that kind of disinformation. And what it’s meant to do is not necessarily to get people to vote for Donald Trump, although sometimes that’s the result. It’s they want to depress enthusiasm, especially in communities of color. They want to depress the number of voters. And this helps to do that. So we absolutely need to get in front of that. But the problem is, look, if you’re just chasing other people’s narratives, you’re also not putting forth your own. And so I do think that, you know, we need to make sure we putting forth our own narrative about what a change in leadership would mean. The fact that there’s nobody better to help recover our economy than Joe Biden, who was right there alongside Barack Obama with the longest streak of positive job growth in our nation’s history that got us out of the recession, the Great Recession, that this is a guy that pays attention to the science and cares about the well-being of families instead of just right wing ideology and conspiracy theories when it comes to the corona virus. Here is somebody who has the kind of character that everybody can be proud of, that we can be proud to talk to our children about versus Donald Trump. They’re very real things, very real differences. Those are the narratives we also have to create.
DeRay [00:43:21] I think that’s right. Before I ask you this other question on politics, I will ask you now that you’re starting a podcast, is this what you thought to be? Its podcastin what, did you think it be easier to do? Did you, like, think it would be more complicated? You know, has this been what you thought it would be?
Julian Castro [00:43:35] I mean, I guess it hasn’t been too far off, except I have a newfound appreciation for how much goes into it.
Julian Castro [00:43:41] Right? You know, when you and I, we have the easy part in so many different ways, right? You’re in front of the microphone and people hear the finished podcast and it’s your voice and you’re the personality. But there is so much work, wonderful work that goes into coming up with proposed scripts and the ideas in the first place and editing that and putting to, the audio together. I really have a newfound appreciation for everything that goes into it and for the men and women that do it on a daily basis to help make us seem like we, you know, are totally smooth and have every question that we ever needed to ask and, you know, don’t miss a beat. They’re actually so many things that go into that. So and that’s from that standpoint, it’s more than I thought.
DeRay [00:44:30] I think that’s real. I’m shocked still every week. And I’m like, whew this is a lot of work. How do you think? I wanted to ask you to. How do you think or what do you think the lasting impact of Covid will be on politics? Like, I keep thinking about like, will Congress go back to session ever for real? Like, when will Congress go back in person, for real, for real, right? Like, what does advocacy look like when you can’t really go to city hall? Like everything’s over Zoom. Like who gets boxed out when, I don’t know, like. Have you thought about how this might forever change the way we think about politics and power?
Julian Castro [00:45:06] Let me start with what I see as a couple of upsides. One upside that I see is that everybody has had to adapt and to learn new technologies, whether it’s something as straightforward as Zoom or other things, people have had to go out of their comfort zone. Now, there are many people that that have not been able to do that because of the digital divide, but many, many people have. I think that’s fundamentally a good thing because it’s added to our tools in terms of reaching each other. I hope that stays around even when we go back to quote, unquote normal and we’re dealing in, you know, physical meetings and everything. So the reach that we have, I think is greater because of that in politics. And people have gotten creative. The Democratic National Convention was an excellent example of this. How do you create that program for this new medium? To use a quick example, everybody was applauding the the roll call of the states. That was done differently this time, right? Instead of in a packed convention, it was done with either a backdrop of a landmark or actually at a landmark in their state that really represented who they are. So in so many little ways, the fact that we’re using this new medium has already changed the way that we’re communicating.
Julian Castro [00:46:21] And I hope we keep the best of that going forward. Also, we understand now that there’s a cost to this digital divide, to people not being connected to broadband and that it’s not a luxury, but a necessity. So my hope is that it’ll give us impetus to do something about that. And then finally, you know, as somebody that has run for office and been in front of the camera, you know, this is a I think this is a change that’s going to reward this generation of 20 somethings and young people in politics. AOC is a good example. People that know the new technology and can use it persuasively. I think that’s going to be the case even more.
DeRay [00:47:03] What do you think about it a third party?
DeRay [00:47:05] And I ask because it feels like the left is becoming such a big tent, right? The Republicans are like whiter and more men, right? It’s like becoming whiter and more male, right? The Democrats are becoming more representative of the country, and that means that the range of ideas is just like even more incredible, right? And there are people who feel like that might mean that this is actually to sort two groups of people, not just one big group of people. What do you think about a third party?
Julian Castro [00:47:31] Well, I think it’s imperative in November to get Donald Trump out. And so my hope is that people who voted third party, they voted for Jill Stein or somebody else in 2016, that they’ll vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in 2020. I have an interesting relationship with the idea of a third party because I got into politics after my mother had been part of a third party called the Raza Unida Party. And the Raza Unida Party was basically a party that was founded in 1970 and was around for about eight to 10 years.
Julian Castro [00:48:07] And the party my mom was involved in was based on the idea that there was a growing underclass in the country of Mexican Americans who had not been well served by either the Republicans or the Democrats. Huge drop out rate, low wages, terrible health outcomes, living in barrios without infrastructure investment, basically being treated like second class citizens. And the idea behind their party was, you know, if neither Republicans or Democrats are going to do anything about this, then we need to run our own candidates. This is what you do in a democracy, right? You participate and this is the ultimate participation. And they did that. My mom ran for city council when she was 23 years old in 1971, City Council, San Antonio. She didn’t win, but she was one of the very first Mexican-American women to run for council in San Antonio. I understand the value of a third party because it can bring to light issues that are not receiving enough attention and it can put pressure on both parties to change their ways. Unfortunately, it can also sometimes have a negative impact, which is that it helps the worse party win. And I think that’s what happened in 2016. I think you know that in part, because we only lost Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania by 77,000 votes. The number of people that were voting third party contributed to that, in addition to the number of people that stayed home that didn’t vote. So my hope is that the Democratic Party can be a party that is inclusive, that can find a way to balance its progressive wing with its more moderate wing, and that will listen to the voices of people that often are not heard. I think third parties arise where people feel like they’re banging their head against, you know, the wall because they’re not being listened to, policies to benefit their community are not being addressed. And they feel like the only option is to go off on their own and address them.
Julian Castro [00:50:21] I certainly hope that the Democratic Party will be more responsive and inclusive than that.
DeRay [00:50:29] How did she, how did your mom influence your running? I can’t believe she ran as such. I mean, you you ran at such a young age. Who thought that she ran younger than you?
Julian Castro [00:50:38] Yeah, I know. You know, my mom was a hell raiser when she was young. She was a got involved in the young Democrats in college and then got involved in this third party, the Raza Unida Party right after that and used to drag Joaquin and me to speeches and rallies and three hour organizational meetings that were super boring for kids to go to. But what I got out of that was a fundamental appreciation for participating in the democratic process, for trying to make a difference through actually voting and through running for office. And the idea that if you did politics right, that it could help people. I’ve never subscribed to this idea that there’s something wrong with helping people. I actually think that that’s what politics and public policy should be about, that you’re going to help people to be able to achieve their dreams. That’s what I got from my mom. And I’m convinced that, but for her, I don’t think my brother or I would have gone into politics.
DeRay [00:51:40] I wanted to ask you too, when you think about policing, because you have been like, you know, you’ve been out there on this issue, is why do you think there’s been so little movement around structural things? Do you think that politicians are afraid to talk about sort of the nitty gritty like police unions in today, which is why they coalesce around training and body cams and stuff like that? Like what do you do? I’m always interested from like an insider, like, what do you think? Because when we look at the numbers, I mean, you know this, the numbers have not changed. The police are still killing at the same rate. It’s like no people think it got better because they see these magazine spreads, but like it hasn’t. So what’s the hold up?
Julian Castro [00:52:15] This is tough work. At the federal level it’s almost impossible to get anything big done in this era of gridlocked, polarized government. And kudos to Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats who passed the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act as a good first step to address some of these issues. But that’s just died on the doorstep of Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate. And even if they passed it, Donald Trump would probably veto it. At the local level.
Julian Castro [00:52:47] Police unions wield way too much power and they have become toxic, downright toxic. Not only are they reflexively defending cops who have murdered people, they are also championing a system where they get to write their own rules and not hold themselves accountable.
Julian Castro [00:53:10] But they’re also very powerful because they contribute to campaigns. They do a lot of canvasing for candidates. They have a real influence on city council members, county commissioners, county supervisors, mayors. That means it’s hard, you know, just as a matter of political fact, it’s hard to actually change things because they’re there to try and stop it. And oftentimes they do stop it.
DeRay [00:53:33] I find it hard to believe that legislators today don’t know that some of the things they keep saying don’t work.
DeRay [00:53:40] So when they like training, you’re like now, you know, like I know training is not. Do you think that people are just afraid of the political power of the unions or something? I don’t know. Like what’s or do you. Or do you. I don’t know. Or do you not know either.
Julian Castro [00:53:53] I think a lot of people, a lot of politicians at the local level are afraid of the power that unions have, their campaign contributions that they will or won’t get based on how the politician votes, the people power of campaign volunteers that go into the neighborhoods, police officers who, you know, help canvass. They also, I think, have not seen enough pushback before this summer from the public. Oftentimes, these police union negotiations with the city, you know, they’re they’re they’re done behind closed doors. Yeah, they’re approved in public by the council. But the community never really gets involved. And they don’t know the stakes. They don’t realize how how impactful these provisions in police contracts that deal with accountability, transparency, how much that can make a difference.
Julian Castro [00:54:48] And so, on the one hand, if you’re a city council member, you have a police union that is super active, super involved on these issues and that you feel like could make a difference in your next election. And on the other hand, mostly in most communities, you have very little pushback on the other side. It hasn’t been traditionally the biggest deal, the biggest issue for citizens. You know, though, they press more on police protection, fire protection, investing in curbs and sidewalks, your libraries, your parks. That’s what they’re talking about at the neighborhood level. A lot of times. And so the tendency of of the politician is to say, OK, well, I’m just going to go ahead and and vote this way and get that support. With few exceptions, not enough people have pushed back. Hopefully that’s going to change. And the number one way to change it is people in the streets and people going to Citizens To Be Heard and people vetting candidates when they go to a candidate’s forum, when they’re running for office, asking them the question about what they’re going to do to reimagine public safety and then ask him questions on specific policies.
DeRay [00:56:03] Now, what do you think, as we as we sort of come to a close, I want to know what what you hope your podcast sort of adds to the landscape. There are a lot of podcasts, there are a lot of people you know, we’ve been at it for a while. Happy to have you in the podcats family.
Julian Castro [00:56:17] Yeah. Yeah. Well.
DeRay [00:56:19] What will be different about yours?
Julian Castro [00:56:22] Well, I hope that mine, like yours is very real and that it lifts up the experiences and the voices of everyday people out there and gives people an honest but also an uplifting look at the struggle that people are going through and maybe most importantly, addresses how we can change that, how we can actually make things better, with the experience of somebody who has actually been there at the table making policy decisions. Weighing everything that goes into those policy decisions and the insight of people that are living this struggle and also folks who are doing something about it and folks who have analyzed it, people that have solutions to propose.
DeRay [00:57:14] There we go.
DeRay [00:57:15] We’ve always considered you a friend of the pod. And thanks for coming by.
Julian Castro [00:57:19] Hey, thanks a lot, DeRay.
DeRay [00:57:22] Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning in to Pod Save the People this week. Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure you rate it wherever you get your podcast whether it’s Apple podcats or somewhere else. And we’ll see you next week.
Julian Castro [00:57:35] What comes to mind when you think about the neighborhoods that we grew up in?
Joaquin Castro [00:57:40] I mean, it felt like at least on the outside, everything was crooked. The sidewalks had cracks in them and they were crooked. The frames on the houses seemed crooked. You know, if you were moving into San Antonio, it’s not the kind of place where real estate agents would be showing houses to people and saying, this is where you’ve got to live. It was in some ways a forgotten part of town.
Julian Castro [00:58:03] Hello, I’m Julian Castro. I grew up on the west side of San Antonio, Texas, in a neighborhood that was largely segregated, neglected and cut off from prosperity. Despite those circumstances, I worked hard and went on to become mayor. I served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama. And I recently ran for president.
Julian Castro [00:58:27] People like my story because it embodies the American dream, where hard work is all you need to succeed.
Julian Castro [00:58:35] But I know that too often my story is the exception.
Julian Castro [00:58:42] Introducing Our American,.
Speaker 1 [00:58:45] They are two different Americas before us. Your picture of America may be different than this part of America. However, don’t neglect they’re are both pictures of America.
Julian Castro [00:58:55] It’s an honest look at how drastically the American experience shifts from one person to the next. It’s about the countless Americans who don’t have time to dream because they’re too burned out, just trying to survive, facing poverty, hunger and often discrimination.
Speaker 2 [00:59:14] It’s one thing to march and make signs and lobby for laws but these families have to come home to it.
Julian Castro [00:59:21] But more than that, Our America is about exploring what is possible.
Speaker 3 [00:59:26] If it wasn’t for those people who also had compassion and to help in whatever capacity they could, we wouldn’t be in a position that we’re in now.
Julian Castro [00:59:34] Throughout the series, I’ll be joined by community organizers, everyday people, big thinkers and cultural icons. All the folks on the ground doing the work and making the policies that shape our daily lives.
Speaker 4 [00:59:47] I believe that housing coupled with services is the prescription to end homelessness. It is a cure.
Julian Castro [00:59:56] Join us as we explore the arts seem so stacked against so many. And what we can do to help. Be a part of the conversation. Our America with Julian Castro from Lemonada Media premieres Thursday, September 10th.