In Orange County, to quote Bob Dylan, the times they are a changin’. This ruby red county is in the cusps of becoming purple and possibly even blue. The surge in millennial registration is making Orange County a place of exciting change. 18-35 year olds make up 29% of our state’s electorate and will make up over 50% of the workforce in less than 5 years. We have a lot of power in our hands, and we can be the margin of difference up and down the ballot. In this election your vote matters more than ever before.
We want to see our community and government change for the better. Millennials are less inclined to favor tough crime measures, more willing to support social liberties, more tolerant of diversity, and more likely to be from minority communities. Millennials are more active than previous generations but we vote in much less numbers. Transforming that drive into action is critical, as we can see here in the heart of Orange County. Various cities have undergone a transformation as a push for district based elections in Garden Grove, Fullerton, and Anaheim, has changed the electoral landscape. In Santa Ana young people can play a critical role in deciding the type of local representation and policing tactics the city will have. We can add a smart latina voice to the Board of Supervisor, flip a red Senate seat, and return to the Assembly a champion of LGBTQ rights. Millennials can help make all these changes but we must vote.
In this time of cynicism, it is easy to say why vote, but this train of thought does a disservice to our communities. The work of change and democracy is hard, but we to fight for it if we want to effect progress. It’s not supposed to be easy. If we want community policing, immigration reform, affordable living conditions, transparency, and other changes then we must show up to the ballot box. No candidate is perfect, in fact most of them are flawed, but that should not be a deterrent to voting. We can only hold our leaders accountable if we show up to the polls, otherwise our voices will go silent.
This election is critical, probably more than any election in the last 20 years. We will decide the type of country we want to live in. Whether we accept a path of fear and hatred, only leading to more polarization, or whether we embrace a path of inclusion and love is up to us. Our grandparents marched, bled, and died for the right to vote. Their greatest gift to us is allowing us to choose the future of our country. In the words of Louis Brandeis, “the most important office is that of the private citizen”. We can’t expect anyone in office to serve our interests without fighting for the issues we hold near and dear to us. Our words must be backed by the power of our vote. As President Obama likes to say, “Don’t boo, vote”.
Luis Aleman, OCYD Political Director & Santa Ana Resident Giovanni Chavez, UCI Student & Santa Ana Resident
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