Thomas: Are Mississippians informed about state politics?


Gina Nguyen

President Donald Trump welcomes the new Mississippi State Governor, Tate Reeves, to the stage to share a few words.

Cameron Thomas, Managing Editor

Tupelo’s BancorpSouth Arena, filled with red hats and “Keep America Great!” signs, shook from the thundering sound of the crowd chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” All eyes glued on President Trump, and his eyes staring into the distance, as if he were looking through a one-way mirror– everyone sees him yet he only sees himself.

As I looked around the arena– U.S.A. chants continuing to echo through the arena after Trump boasted on improving the economy– I thought to myself, “Why be happy about America’s economy when Mississippi’s is still one of the worst?”

As recently announced, Tate Reeves, along with all of the other Republican candidates running for their respective positions, won the vote of the Mississippians in last Tuesday’s state elections.

This was not a surprise to me or probably anyone for that matter, for Mississippi is a predominately “red” state. A toad could literally run for state governor, and if it loves guns, hates abortion or owns a MAGA (or now KAG apparently) hat, then it will mostly likely win the election.

I think Cindy Hyde-Smith said it best at last week’s rally:

President Trump embraces Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith after she speaks.

“This Tuesday, Mississippi can send a message to the entire nation. We can let the liberal Democrats with their socialist agenda know that it may be alive and well in the heart of Nancy Pelosi, but it is dead in Mississippi! We can let them know that we don’t want open borders so illegal drug smugglers can come through them. We can let them know that to kill an unborn baby is not a human right; it’s a human life. Go out and vote, and let’s support these Mississippi Republican candidates.”

There is nothing wrong with having your own political beliefs. In fact, I personally love to converse with those who have differing political opinions than me; it forces me to think and listen to different perspectives.

The problem arises, however, when we blindly accept a certain party’s political beliefs as our own. I feel as if most people claim to believe in certain policies just because those policies fall under a certain political umbrella– an umbrella sheltering them from more diverse ideologies. Thus, they choose to blindly vote all red or all blue, failing to do any research on the candidates other than looking at whether there is an ‘R’ or ‘D’ beside their name on the ballot.

A Mississippi resident, Larry, attended the rally in support of President Trump. Though he didn’t know much about Tate Reeves, “any supporter of Trump has [his] support.”

The crowd cheers after Trump finishes speaking, while holding up their “Keep America Great!” signs and hats.

“[Tate Reeves] upholds conservative ideas. He is going to be in line in support of Trump and the national agenda, and, basically, he’s a Republican and not a Democrat,” Larry said. “LGBT… Hood is a bit lax on that; I think Reeves would be a bit stronger on it.”

Nothing about Larry’s statements surprised me, for most people in attendance did not know much about Tate Reeves and were there to support Trump, such as another Mississippi resident named William:

“I am actually here in support of Donald Trump. He has went on a limb and has started to get things done. He’s taken care of a lot of problems we’ve been having. I haven’t really looked into Reeves and what his plans are, but if Donald Trump supports him, then I’m sure he has the right mindset and the right ideas.”

I am not saying that Larry and William are representative of every Republican or person in Mississippi, nor am I saying that Tate Reeves will be a bad governor, but the fact that Mississippians are willing to vote blindly for a candidate they know nothing about is detrimental to our state as a whole.

We rank in the bottom five in pretty much everything: education, employment, economy, etc. At least we’re top ten for poverty and obesity (#yay). Most of all, we are one of the slowest states when it comes to change– something that Mississippians have feared for centuries.

Mississippi has too long remained stagnant in its old ways, yet we tend to elect the same types of people over and over again because of fear and ignorance. Our voters are so invested in national politics that they’ve become blind to what affects them directly.

I’m not really concerned about [Tate Reeve’s] education policy.

— Larry

Another problem became evident in another statement by Larry: “I don’t have kids in school anymore, so I’m not really concerned about [Tate Reeve’s] education policy.”

We don’t care about the right things. Our poor education system is the root of what keeps Mississippi behind in pretty much everything, sending our best students out of the state. We as people need to avoid the deceiving nature of instantaneous satisfaction and start investing in the future of our state.

With all of the voter guides, articles and campaigns, it only takes minutes to read about candidates. It only takes minutes to set Mississippi on a path to something greater. We need to start using those minutes wisely… before it’s too late.