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Letters to the Editor: Far-right mobs get attention, but Orange County’s future is liberal

A man carries an American flag on a sidewalk.
Alan Hostetter leads a march through downtown San Clemente on April 21, 2020, in protest of California’s stay-at-home order.
(Shawn Raymundo / San Clemente Times)

To the editor: Orange County has a long reputation for being a conservative bastion and an incubator for extremist hate groups. However, the county has become far more politically moderate in recent years. (“Suburban radicals: Inside the resurgence of right-wing extremism in Orange County,” March 21

These changes were apparent in 2016, when for the first time since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency more Orange County citizens voted for the Democratic nominee than the Republican. A “blue wave” followed in 2018, when Democrats captured every Orange County House seat.

In 2019, Democrats overtook Republicans in party registration. Today, there are about 50,000 more registered Democrats than registered Republicans.

Surveys we’ve conducted show, by significant numbers, that Orange County residents support gun control, environmental protection, a legal path to citizenship for those in the country illegally, rent control and land-use planning, and they are troubled by the growing gap between rich and poor. Also, residents do not think the government is doing enough to address the needs of poor and homeless people.

The vast majority believes climate change is a serious problem that is caused by human activity, and that COVID-19 is a threat that is not fully under control here.

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Orange County is not as liberal as San Francisco and Los Angeles, but it is not nearly as conservative as one might think after reading your article.

Fred Smoller, Orange, and Michael A. Moodian, Rancho Mission Viejo

The writers, who teach at Chapman University, direct the school’s Orange County Annual Survey.

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To the editor: Thank you for the article on Orange County’s resurgence in far-right radicalism.

My introduction to San Clemente took place some 30 years ago when my new neighbors told me to my face that I was a “socialist” because I taught in a public school. That was quite an eye-opener.

Over the years, more and more rational voices have been speaking out, so I have hope if we stay vigilant that facts, science and democracy will overcome this anti-democracy flareup.

Karen Reisdorf, San Clemente

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To the editor: Talk about up close and personal. Your reporters made these right wingers so real and vivid that they are stark reminders that extremists have always been with us.

The Ku Klux Klan. The John Birch Society. Father Coughlin. Joe McCarthy. QAnon. Fascists. We’ll never be completely safe. We’ll never win them over.

We can only hope that some of their kids will see the light.

Bob Klein, Los Angeles


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