WVU student Kaden Lee. Photo by Allen Siegler

MORGANTOWN — Kaden Lee will not be voting in this year’s election. It’s not that he’s ineligible; the West Virginia University freshman, born in Florida and raised in Ritchie County, turned 18 in July. And it’s not that Lee doesn’t have opinions about political issues.

“I’m all for people,” he said after eating breakfast at the Mountainlair dining hall. “I believe in rights for abortion, I believe that people should be taken care of.”

For Lee, the reason he’s not voting is due to a combination of factors — the most significant of which is that he finds most political discourse to be dehumanizing.

“It’s just crazy seeing one side or the other saying some people shouldn’t have things,” Lee said. “We just keep having a bunch of infighting, whether it’s based on race, or based on gender, or sexuality or whatever. We find reasons to argue with each other.”

Mountain State Spotlight reporters are traveling around the state, asking West Virginians what’s on their mind this election season. To read other stories from this series, click here. 

The aspiring graphic designer said he tries as hard as he can to be open-minded, and acknowledged he doesn’t have a full grasp on many issues. But he believes politicians’ constant beratement of each other has made it difficult for thoughtful conversations.

“We are a collective. We work in society together to try and make things better,” Lee said. “If I’m going to be honest, the country isn’t really doing well. I feel like we’re just kind of going down.”

Lee expects to vote in future elections, elections in which he has more than a few months to register. But he doesn’t know whether he’ll ever feel attached to either of the country’s two major political parties.

He hopes future candidates will at least use words thoughtfully and respectfully.

“If you don’t understand something…we humans lash out,” he said. “That’s just a natural thing we do. And I would rather us be able to understand the world.”

More voices from around West Virginia

Allen Siegler is the public health reporter for Mountain State Spotlight. He can be reached at (681) 317-7571.