Profiles of Effective LawmakersMississippi

Rep. Jeramey Anderson: I Want to Add Seats to the Table

July 11, 2024

By Alex Lee

In the challenging landscape of Mississippi politics, where racial and partisan divides often seem insurmountable, Representative Jeramey Anderson (D-MS) has emerged as a determined and forward-thinking leader. Since his election at the age of 21, Anderson has championed dialogue and collaboration to overcome deep-seated divisions. Future Caucus spoke with Anderson about his approach to fostering bipartisan cooperation and his insights for the next generation of lawmakers committed to enhancing democratic governance.

In 2013, Rep. Jeramey Anderson stepped up to better serve his community by running for office in Mississippi’s 110th District. “Convincing my community that I could do this job” was no easy task, he says. Still a junior in college and only 21 years old, Anderson was running in a state known as a retirement destination. Besides the age gap, he was a Democrat in a deep-red state and a Black man in a state with a long history of racism. Despite these challenges, he won.

His success was driven by a message that has defined his subsequent decade of work in office. “I’m not interested in removing seats from the table,” he assured skeptical constituents. “I want to add them.” Anderson made it clear that his approach to lawmaking is to communicate with constituents and fellow lawmakers who hold different perspectives, not to dominate them. The job of a leader, he believes, “is not to tell people what to do, but to bring people to the table so they can address their issues and come to a consensus, and nurture the space for them to do that.” He took great pride in fostering dialogue about “emotional issues that are sometimes extremely controversial and very partisan.”

Anderson’s discussion-oriented approach has led to  several legislative accomplishments across party lines. One of the most notable was changing Mississippi’s state flag from its 1894 design, which featured the Confederate battle flag, to a new “In God We Trust” design, a feat that took four years of bipartisan communication. “It’s OK to disagree, but it’s not OK to stop having conversations,” he emphasizes. Another example of Anderson’s commitment to dialogue was working with Republicans to reform his local school board, shifting from appointment to election, thus giving local families a greater voice in their community’s education.

Such examples of cooperation, Anderson argues, are what the democratic process should aspire to. “As a country, we’re in a toxic situation where partisan supermajorities basically prevent the two sides from talking to each other. It has tainted our system of governance–this is not how democracy should work.” He insists on the importance of avoiding echo chambers and recognizing the value of “having conversations not just with people who agree with you and have traveled the same paths as you, but also with those who have different views.”

“That’s what we pride ourselves on: being able to sit down at a table and have tough conversations, agreeing or disagreeing, but not cutting off the conversation.”

Rep. Sara Jacobs


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