I'm going to go out on a limb: Barack Obama will not win Texas this November. It's about as sure a thing that the Lone Star State will go Republican as it is that New York and California will go Democratic. However, the Democrats are eyeing a much bigger target than Texas in selecting San Antonio's Mayor Julian Castro as the keynote for their Convention. What's bigger than Texas? Try the Texas of tomorrow.
Mayor Castro is a young, dynamic, Mexican-American who is, in many ways, the face of Texas's future, and increasingly America's. Texas is one of a number of states with a booming Hispanic population — and in Texas, it's been a mix of careful gerrymandering and aggressive political tactics that has kept the demographic tide from wiping out Republican majorities. Smart Republicans know that they have to find a way to engage this growing minority population, which won't be the minority forever. George W. Bush courted Spanish-speaking voters, and his nephew, George P. Bush, is running an organization to bring younger Latinos into the GOP.
However, there are many other right-wingers who have gone a different direction: demonizing immigrants, pushing laws that lead to racial-profiling, advocating for English-only policies. The conservative movement may be cementing its support among xenophobic white voters, but those constituents are aging, dwindling and their majority is expiring.
In short, the Republican Party that Mitt Romney has tied himself too is chasing Latino voters into the arms of the Democratic Party. With calls for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, active legislative pushes for the DREAM Act, and the President's recent administrative decision, the Democrats are showing themselves willing to benefit from their rivals' politics of fear, division and exclusion.
Julian Castro won't help Obama win Texas this year…though he may be part of a broader strategy to win over voters in Nevada, Colorado, Florida and even Arizona. But people like him — and his twin brother running for Congress — will help Democrats win a new generation of voters this and in future years, and will eventually help Democrats mess with Texas in ways that will upend the Republican power base.
Of course, I should oversell Castro. After all, it's just a keynote and most keynotes are forgotten in the dustbin of history. I had to look up the fact that Senator Mark Warner gave the keynote in '08. Mario Cuomo's famous '84 keynote set expectations for his career higher than he decided to reach. Clinton's long-winded keynote was derided until he bounced back as an unlikely candidate in a crowded Presidential primary. Harold Ford, Jr's, 2000 keynote was supposed to make him a national star, but last I heard he was being chased out of an ill-considered, corporate-backed run in New York, after losing out in Tennessee.
Then there was that State Senator in '04 who spoke about there not being a red America and a blue America, but "one America, red, white and blue."
I suspect Mayor Castro has them all in mind as he considers the honor...probably that State Senator most of all.