Any liberal voter living in Orange County wouldn’t hesitate to tell you that theirs is an uphill battle against the county’s McCainiac majority. But young people living and growing up in Orange County, who have long-endured the Republican bubble that has defined who we are, seem to have had enough. For the first time maybe ever, a majority of young people, like myself (which includes those of us at UCI who did vote and wore our sticker today), are voting squarely against our parents, specifically on the presidential candidates and key issues like Proposition 8.
High school freshmen, college seniors and first-time voters are questioning authority and refusing to replicate their parents’ political philosophies. Student-organizers like [REDACTED], Vice President of the Freethinking Atheist and Agnostic Kinship at Capistrano Valley High School, were behind the big “No on Prop. 8” rally last week. The OC Reg article on the student protest had more than 1,200 comments today and has sat at the top of the hit list since last week. The showing of 200-plus students, most with “Vote No on Prop 8” signs, and the smattering of student protests in various cities over the past week, have been significant given that supporters of the proposition outspent those opposed to it by $6.4 million in Orange County. Students probably weren’t the ones throwing down that kind of cash.
“We are surrounded by a huge Republican base and a Christian foundation [in Orange County] so most parents are going to be both religious and Republican,” says Capo Valley High’s [REDACTED].
“It’s awesome to see kids with not just a liberal outlook, but thinking for themselves.” He’s just one of many students who has clashed with his parents over their opposing views this election cycle.
UC Irvine student Jonathan Wong says he’s had heated political arguments with his parents, especially over gay marriage. “In terms of Prop 8, just this weekend my dad and I almost got into an argument…when [he] was saying some homophobic remarks and stated that he didn't like a certain city council candidate because the candidate opposed Prop 8.” Wong is president of the Student Alliance for Marriage Equality.
At UCI, the vast majority of students are coming out in support of Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. The latest polls confirm it: Obama outweighs McCain among young, college-aged voters by double digits. Once upon a time, Orange County may not have been included in that mix, but this year seems different. Third year UCI student David Lumb says his vote for Barack goes against his father's Republican voting record and has led to many dinner table debates. “He supports my decision despite our differing opinions because I'm getting out there and voting. But he remains staunchly supportive of McCain.”
With never before seen numbers of youth voter registration, unprecedented turnouts at the polls, and big wins expected for the Democrats tonight, the youth vote may be the thing that tips OC if not to blue, then to a darker, slightly purplish shade of red.
[Editor's Note, May 31, 2016: A community organizer quoted in this story's name has been redacted.]