‘We’re broken.’ In the suburbs north of Los Angeles, voters feel fed up and afraid

Sergio Amalfitano’s attitude about the country is as dark and brooding as the name of his vinyl record shop in downtown San Fernando — the Midnight Hour.

He and his wife, Alyssa Castro Amalfitano, who owns a boutique two doors away, say they’re so disenchanted with politicians’ failure to bring Americans together and to make life better for Californians that they’re considering not voting in the November election.

“Everyone is fed up,” says Sergio, 37. “All you can do is work hard, try to make a living and stay in your lane.”

No matter where you venture along the northern fringe of metro Los Angeles, whether it’s the bustling suburbs of the Democratic-leaning San Fernando Valley or the more conservative towns that nestle in the russet-hued canyons to the north and east, you’ll find people who say they have good reason to sing the blues for their country.

They’re feeling weighed down by the onslaught of inflation, cultural conflicts and assaults on the electoral process. They fear that Americans — left, right and center — have given up trying to understand or sympathize with one another.

And they hold elected officials and political candidates responsible for sowing distrust among Americans and eroding faith in democratic institutions.

While Sergio, who identifies with the left but doesn’t align with a political party, understands that sitting out the election could lead to victories by candidates he detests, he rejects the idea that gritting your teeth and choosing “the lesser of two evils,” as some of his friends plan to do, is a better option.

“What does that say about democracy?” he says.

On San Fernando’s old-school commercial strip, amid shops selling furniture, quinceañera gowns and cowboy attire, Alyssa keeps watch over her vintage boutique, Cry Baby’s Rodeo. It’s painted all in pink and sells country and western clothing, home goods, stationery, peppermint swirl lollipops and paintings of clowns. Tammy Wynette croons on the sound system.

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