Editorial | Now, it’s time to vote

Illustrated by Gaby Fantone

For many members of the college-aged generation, political action largely consists of tweeting, sharing posts on Facebook and attending events and rallies.

But when it comes to action, only 26 percent of American adults aged 18-29 are “absolutely certain” they will vote in the midterm elections – compared to a staggering 82 percent of those 65 or older, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Voters aged 65 and older have influenced a significant chunk of election cycles in the 20th and 21st centuries, but they won’t be around forever.

Voting is crucial, now more than ever. Millennials are poised to overtake baby boomers as the largest part of the voting-eligible population at 27 percent. By comparison, baby boomers make up 31 percent of eligible voters.

A generation that historically votes in line with Republican values, boomers played a large part in Trump’s election and 53 percent of those aged 45 to 65 voted for him in 2016.

So let’s be real. If you don’t agree with Trump, his administration’s policies and the direction in which the Republican Party is taking America, you need to vote in the midterm elections. Your vote can have power, but only if you allow it to.

Politicians like 45th district congressional candidate Katie Porter, 48th district congressional candidate Harley Rouda and 49th district congressional candidate Mike Levin stand to potentially flip some of Orange County’s most populous districts blue.

That would break an 80-year Republican stronghold in a county that has been home to hundreds of members of the Ku Klux Klan (some once holding city council seats in Anaheim), has had several cities join a lawsuit against California to oppose sanctuary city laws and historically, is a predominantly white area.

But those demographics are slowly changing. Orange County is 34 percent Hispanic and 21 percent Asian, according to U.S. Census data. During the 2016 presidential election, the county went blue for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton – the first time it’s done so since the Great Depression.

This demographic shift is just a start. It can be hard to feel like your vote matters, but it does, especially now.

John Russo, a 20-year-old Santiago Canyon College student who is running for mayor of Orange, told The Panther that he was motivated to run after seeing a “lack of responsiveness” from Orange councilmembers.

He’s part of a wave of younger political candidates. At least 20 millennial Democratic candidates are running in contentious and competitive districts during this election cycle according to Politico.

“If you don’t go vote, in my opinion, you don’t have the right to complain,” Russo told The Panther.

He’s right. If you don’t like the way things are, now is the time to change them. Tweeting and complaining about the state of politics with your friends and family can only go so far. This election cycle brings about a unique chance for our generation to change the status quo and fight for what we believe in. So now, it’s time to vote.