The primary races this election season have left me worried that I’m slipping into middle-aged cynicism. So I decided to text my 24-year-old nephew, Chase, whom my husband and I helped raise after he lost his parents. I hoped he could deliver a shot of millennial enthusiasm to inspire me—and he did. A bass-playing behavior therapist, Chase graduated from UC Santa Cruz and now lives in Berkeley.
Are you voting in the June 7 primary?
I’ve voted every election year since 2010 and got to vote for Obama in 2012.
How was 2012 different?
Obama had so much momentum and was a better choice than Mitt Romney, even if he felt like “the lesser of two evils.” Besides the fact that he bailed out the banks—and let the people who ran our economy into the ground continue to work—I strongly believed in him after Obamacare passed and because of his stance on LGBTQ rights. In 2012, there wasn’t someone like Bernie Sanders pushing against the status quo. It’s awesome to have a candidate who speaks about basic human rights (free health care, free education, better national infrastructure) as his platform. People should not be shunned by society for being poor.
You have a big heart, but how is the United States going to pay for all of that?
HIGHER TAXES ON THE RICH and SCALE BACK MILITARY SPENDING! lol. I’d be fine spending more on taxes if it meant a better place to live. Sign me up for better roads, better transportation, and universal education and health care. It would give people more hope and chances, which would lead to a more peaceful America. People without hope turn to negative means as a way to get out of their situations. It won’t happen overnight. It’s just so great that someone like Bernie can voice things I’ve been thinking since I’ve had political opinions. Even if he loses, I love that Democratic socialism is now in the mainstream.
Before you moved in with us, you lived with your grandparents, my mom and dad—Reagan Republicans who watched Fox and listened to conservative talk radio. Why did none of that rub off on you?
In my formative years I listened to Larry Elder after school while we cruised the freeway eating chili cheese fries from Wienerschnitzel. I remember thinking that he didn’t really like people. There was always something he was complaining about. That never vibed with me. Jon Stewart was my hero, although Bill O’Reilly blared on our television screen. People like O’Reilly and Sean Hannity were always so negative and blaming other people for their problems.
Are the politics up north more to your liking?
I tend to see more protests up here and feel that residents are more aware of the stakes of the election. In SoCal I felt more apathy about the process.
When you spent your junior year in France, you were impressed by how politically engaged Europeans were.
Our political system is geared to create apathy in voters. I’ve heard so many people say, “Oh, California is going to vote Democrat; I’m not gonna vote ’cause it doesn’t matter.” Maybe if we changed elections to be based on popular vote rather than the electoral college, we’d see more engagement. France is a totally different animal. It’s a source of pride for the citizens to vote. They love that they were one of the first European countries to become a modern democracy, and it’s still a huge part of their national identity.
If you woke up tomorrow to “President Trump,” would you be on the first boat to Bordeaux?
No, but you could count on me walking out of my house and protesting. America is one of the most insane experiments. So many people live here from different places and backgrounds. And I love it for that. Even though there is so much to work on, I am optimistic.