Jensen Bohren is not a politician, nor does he want to be — he simply wants to be a representative for the people of Mississippi.
At 34-years-old, the self-proclaimed nerd is part of the wave of young people across the nation running for office in 2018. It is a passionate effort to flush out the longtime incumbents who may have years or even decades of experience in government, but many of whom no longer represent the American people.
What Bohren lacks in political experience, he makes up for in honesty, education, and a work history many Americans can relate to. He is not bought or corrupted by the political system; he only accepts individual donations, believing corporations should not be allowed to give money to campaigns and donations shouldn’t exceed a maximum limit of $2,700. As a graduate from Delta State University with a degree in Biology, he values education and using it to think critically about issues. Bohren is also attuned to the daily struggles of the average working American and has worked a plethora of odd-end jobs himself. Having worked in a video store, an agricultural research facility, a recording studio, a comic store, restaurants, and a public school, Bohren says he knows the “demoralizing trot around town with a stack of resumes, hoping for a callback.”
What initially sparked Bohren’s interest in running for government office was the open letter from 47 Republican senators to Iranian leaders during the nuclear deal negotiations. “The tone of the open letter suggested not ignorance, but spite. In essence, it stated that no matter what deal was reached, because of who it was reached with, they would act against it in any way they could.”
“War is the last resort, and it’s not all we should know. War is to be avoided if possible. If we do go to war, we must support those we send. Once they’re home, we need to take care of them. They put their lives on the line for America, and we need to make sure they have decent lives afterward.”
Bohren says the extent of his knowledge on foreign policy is limited, but that if an issue is to arise, he will quickly educate himself on the situation.
With the hyperpartisan gridlock in Congress, Bohren is skeptical about the current two-party system. He would rather see a shift to a ranked-choice voting system, in which voters rank the candidates on the ballot instead of voting for just one candidate. Bohren thinks this would help “break up the duopoly the two parties have on our government” and allow more diversity on ballots.
“Boiling down the complex American experience into two hardlined piles has degenerated our government significantly. I feel ranked-choice voting would allow other political parties to have a chance, and in a few decades expand the amount of viable political parties.”
In a state with right-leaning representatives and a more centrist Democratic Party, Bohren says progressive Mississippians are underrepresented by their government. “We didn’t expand Medicaid with the Affordable Care Act. We don’t fully fund our education system. For the most part, the representatives are about what you’d expect from a gerrymandered Mississippi.”
Bohren’s stances on many issues align closely with progressives like Bernie Sanders. He supports the legalization of marijuana, a Medicare-for-All healthcare system, and ensuring workers are paid a livable wage. Although Bohren is concerned that raising the minimum wage would cause small businesses to suffer, he is dedicated to finding policy solutions that would still allow them to thrive.
On the issue of gun control, Bohren’s stance is a bit more controversial for progressives and the Democratic Party. Although Bohren supports the Second Amendment, he is in favor of extensively researching gun violence. “We need to lift the moratorium on studying the underlying causes of gun violence. We haven’t studied the fundamentals of the issue since the mid-nineties. To avoid researching an issue due to political implications is stunningly irresponsible.”
It was clear during the 2016 presidential election that a sentiment amongst voters is that politicians are out of touch with the average American. Bohren says he has “experienced what the regular person goes through” and admits he still experiences it.
“I know the frustration of having an education, a student loan bill you can’t afford, and the difficulty of finding a job that can actually pay the bills. Right now, especially for the younger generation, things are tough, and even the older generations are experiencing a downslide in their economic stability. I remember reading an article that said about sixty percent of Americans cannot deal with an average-costing setback, such as a car repair or medical emergency. They’re one inconvenience away from losing everything. This is the reality for a stunning amount of people, and I know what it is like to live with that fear. I doubt most of our elected representatives have to worry about such things, and the laws they pass will reflect their reality, not the common American’s experience.”
This disconnect between politicians and their constituents leads Bohren to strongly support single-subject bills that are made available to the public for vetting. Currently, bills are introduced that could have multiple unrelated measures tucked into them, causing them to be more difficult to understand by both politicians and the American public.
“I see these as part of the same problem: a government that no longer pays attention to its citizenry. Too many bills are spread out and overarching, touching totally unrelated items. This coupled with bills passed without any public input disrespect the American people who have entrusted their representatives with their votes.”
Bohren would also like to see a new voter’s rights bill that “expands and attempts to guarantee every American the ability to vote.” Bohren claims that today, a vast majority of Mississippians think voting doesn’t matter. In the 2016 election, Mississippi was ranked 44th in the country with a voter turnout of 55.5%. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said that voter turnout was down approximately 76,000 from 2012. Bohren believes Mississippians are highly distrustful of politicians, and he doesn’t blame them. He hopes to break that perception by being a senator the people can trust.
“I am dedicated, educated and ready to fight for what is right in this country. I want change, and I’m willing to be that change.”
Learn more about Jensen Bohren from his website.