November 5, 2018

Voting in Mississippi

vote for your choice
Voting in Mississippi is often a discouraging experience, and this is true even when facing one of the elections in which my vote might count. My ballot will contain the name of a Democrat or two who will almost always be significantly more conservative than many of the Republican candidates found on the ballots in liberal states. These Democratic candidates will almost always have spent a considerable portion of their campaign trying to appeal to voters in the state by broadcasting their devotion to Jesus. And despite this, they will inevitably lose their races by large margins. If it wasn't for my antiquated belief that voting is an important part of my civic duty, I probably wouldn't bother.

For as long as I have lived in Mississippi, I have never once had the experience of voting for a candidate I thought had a reasonable chance of winning his or her election. Never. I have never viewed voting as me doing my part to turn the state blue. As poor, uneducated, and racially diverse as Mississippi is, it should have turned blue decades ago. The fact that it remains deep red suggests that the Republican Party has been far more effective in attracting voters and generating voter turnout on their side.

One of the more common complaints I hear from the few left-leaning individuals I have encountered here is that the national Democratic Party has pretty much abandoned Mississippi. I think they're correct. I also agree with them that the Democratic presence at the state level seems small, disorganized, underfunded, and ineffective. They have had trouble even finding people willing to run for state offices as Democrats, and this has resulted in a couple of candidates who were not remotely qualified for the office for which they were running.

I'm sure the Democratic Party does not expect to win here, and it looks like they have decided not to devote any resources. I suppose that is understandable, but it has a demoralizing effect on those of us who are tired of living under Republican rule. "Why bother?" is something I often hear on my way to or from the local voting precinct. I use the opportunity to explain why I bother, but I'll admit that I can see their point of view.

There are countless theories out there that aim to explain how the Republican Party has been so effective at winning over the sort of poor, uneducated, rural voters who would probably benefit from Democratic policies. However they have managed to do it, it seems likely that they will maintain their stranglehold on Mississippi politics for longer than I hope to remain in Mississippi. In the meantime, I will keep voting and encouraging others to vote.