With next year’s presidential election approaching, young voters around East Mississippi have differing views about politics and the role of government.
Some feel it’s their civic duty to take part in public affairs, while others say they feel disconnected from the political process.
This is the fifth installment of The Meridian Star's Pulse of the Voters project, an initiative that gauges the political mood in our community. We are conducting grassroots interviews so we can report on the opinions of local voters periodically through the next presidential election in 2020.
The project is being mirrored in communities across the country served by 100 or so CNHI news organizations in similar-sized communities, from Florida to Iowa, from New Hampshire to Texas.
Evie Adams, 19, a cosmetologist from Union, says voting is important because it gives people a voice.
“It’s what our founding fathers fought so hard for,” she said.
Adams says she expects leaders to be honest, but realistic.
“I think they need to do good things for people, but also need to be realistic,” she said. “I feel like some of them are trying a little too hard, by promising free college and healthcare. Is that realistic? How can you really find all the money to do that?”
Adams says she isn’t as interested in current affairs as her parents are, unless this issue affect her directly.
“If it’s really important or interests me, I’ll look it up,” she said.
Like Adams, Mikal Bolden of Collinsville considers voting a civic duty.
“I think getting out and voting is important because you want different people in office that you approve of,” he said. “You just don’t want anybody in office. I think that’s why it’s important to vote.”
But, Bolden said, sometimes leaders don’t understand the lives of young people.
“They don’t live our lives, and what we have to go through on a daily basis,” he said.
Demeyers Morrow, 19, agrees.
“They say they’re going to do things, but they really don’t when they get into office,” he said. “And none of what they do benefits people in Mississippi.”
Tony Mack, 19, said he feels disconnected from leaders as well.
“I think a lot of people trying to get into office don’t know what we go through,’ he said. “They may come from a different background. I think it’s important that they understand what we need as people. I think sometimes they just don’t get it.”
Angela Pedersen, an 18-year-old biology student, sees a generation gap between younger and older voters.
“I think they’re a lot more informed,” she said of the older generation. “ The younger generation probably has a lot more opportunities with college, education and careers. So we get sidetracked, and we don’t focus on politics as much.”
For Brayden Stewart, 19, of Collinsville, what happens at the local level is more relevant to him than what’s going on nationally.
“I think it’s important to vote locally,” said Stewart, a computer programming student.
“Those are the votes that will most likely affect your life. I do think it’s important to vote for the president and others at that level, but I do think it’s probably more important to make sure your local officials are suited for the job.”
Education is one issue Stewart thinks about when choosing candidates. He said he’d like to see more reform of the education system.