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Politics

After 2020 Election, This First-Time Latino Voter Worries About A Divided U.S.

Izcan Ordaz poses for a portrait outside his home in Keller, Texas.
Ben Torres for The World
Izcan Ordaz says Texas conservatism has influenced his politics.

Nineteen-year-old Izcan Ordaz has two asks of the new Biden administration: issue additional stimulus checks and help bring the country together.

This story is part of "Every 30 Seconds," a collaborative public media reporting project tracing the young Latino electorate leading up to the 2020 presidential election and beyond.

Nineteen-year-old Izcan Ordaz has two asks of the new Biden administration: issue additional stimulus checks and help bring the country together.

Like many people around the country, Ordaz was disturbed by the political unrest at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. The images of people breaking windows, forcing their way into the building — some chanting former Vice President Mike Pence’s name and “stop the steal” — were unlike anything he had seen before.

Ordaz, a college freshman who voted in his first U.S. presidential election last November, said the country has become too divided. That’s especially worrisome to him and others who consider themselves political moderates, he said.

Then Ordaz reminded himself: “I am younger and, in a sense, more politically naïve,” he said. “So I assumed that things like this have happened before, just in a different light. There have been violent protests before and harsh disagreements from political parties before.”

Still, he said, violence under any circumstance shouldn’t be tolerated. He doesn’t like some of the rhetoric coming from both sides of the political spectrum.

“You know, just a lot of polarizing commentary and that was one thing I was just generally not very pleased with,” he said. “Whenever I see that pop up, it always elicits a lot of emotional reaction as a reader, as a listener.”

Ordaz was glad to see some elected leaders, including Republicans, take a stand.

He points to former Vice President Mike Pence, who — despite then-President Trump’s insistence the election was stolen — officially declared Joe Biden president and Kamala Harris vice president.

Ordaz’s advice to Biden?

“To just do his best to preserve some sense of political unity. And, although that’s no easy task, it would involve maybe just staying away from very, very irrational or unnecessary opinions toward different people.”

Though Ordaz considers himself a moderate politically, he sides more with Republicans on economic issues. He said he’s tried to stay away from watching or reading what he describes as far-right and far-left viewpoints.

He believes doing that narrows a person’s worldview and that social media helps perpetuate these limited views.

Instead, Ordaz likes to consume content that’s helpful to him, like watching a YouTube channel called “Meet Kevin," that belongs to Kevin Paffrath, a 28-year-old real estate broker and investor. Ordaz said listening to him is like listening to a more experienced uncle who helps him think like an investor.

He also talks about other issues like COVID-19 and elections and cites information from a broad range of news sources, which Ordaz appreciates. Ordaz said he’d like to see this kind of approach to topics from more people — less polarized and more nuanced.

“As a nation, we just don’t look very strong right now,” Ordaz said. “So we need to just cut it out, agree to disagree and go about our business.”

Editor's Note: The radio version of this story erroneously stated Kevin Paffrath is a "30-something real estate broker and investor." Paffrath is 28.

Got a tip? Email Stella M. Chávez at schavez@kera.org. You can follow Stella on Twitter @stellamchavez.

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