At a time of deep partisan division, in a Southern California congressional district where Democrats narrowly outnumber Republicans, voters interviewed over the weekend were largely in agreement on at least one issue: After a two-decade war. President Biden was right to withdraw US troops from Afganistan.
The bombing of Kabul airport hadn’t changed their minds; the murder of 13 soldiers made them more sedated than saddened. Many said they were simply too overwhelmed to pay attention to another overseas crisis. “We have a lot to fix here,” said Ms Ortiz, who considers herself politically moderate and voted for Mr Biden.
Amid a still-raging pandemic and a still-recovering economy, this was a time to focus on problems at home rather than abroad, more than a dozen Republican, Democratic and independent voters said in conversations in and around Hacienda. Heights, a community of 55,000 people about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, where first- and second-generation immigrants fill the subdivisions and malls.
Afghanistan could be ignored, they said, but the possibility that their children too young to be vaccinated would get sick couldn’t. Washington leaders may be concerned about the threat of terrorism or America’s position with allies, but voters in Hacienda Heights said they were far more concerned about issues that directly affect them: Covid-19, homelessness and climate change, to just to name a few.
They also seemed reluctant to hold Mr Biden responsible for last week’s attacks, at least for now.
“If you don’t have a good choice, you still have to pick one,” said Patrick Huang, a 65-year-old independent who has voted for both Republicans and Democrats. “They had plenty of time to prepare to get everyone out, and they totally screwed up. But I don’t blame President Biden for everything. This came after many, many presidents made mistakes.”