Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

Critics of Biden’s handling of Israel-Hamas war push for protest vote in Michigan primary

By 37ci3 Feb26,2024

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — President Joe Biden’s most serious challenger in Michigan’s Democratic primary isn’t his nominal opponent for the party’s nomination, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips.

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Disgruntled Democrats in Michigan, angered by Biden’s refusal to force a lasting cease-fire in Gaza, are checking the “not threatened” box instead of voting for their party’s president, prompting others to cast protest votes in Tuesday’s primary election.

Organizers don’t expect the gambit to deny Biden victory, but they hope the “non-threat” vote will be big enough for him to get the message and use his leverage to rein in the Israeli military. A strong “non-threat” showing would be a blow to Biden, given how the war has strained a Democratic coalition that should remain intact, especially in the key state of Michigan.

“You just see horrific images and reports of civilians being killed,” Marshall Clabeaux, 30, said in Gaza after an Ingham County Democratic Party meeting at a Mexican restaurant in Lansing last week. “I’m broken.”

“President Biden needs to reverse course on Gaza,” Klabeaux said, adding that a resolution calling for a cease-fire was passed unanimously by the county committee. “You’re going to lose a huge chunk of voters in Michigan without a change in course and action.”

The rise of the “no-threat” movement in Michigan has created an unusual scene in the state, which Biden must hold in November if he remains in office. Before the primary election, dueling campaigns have sprung up using different means and methods to reach Democratic voters.

The Biden campaign is the more traditional and low-key of the two, relying on visits from high-profile surrogates, research and phone banking to ensure a solid victory.

Biden Opts Out of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Operation: Her Fight Like Hell political action committee has held nearly two dozen campaign events this month, including a get-out-the-vote effort in Lansing on Saturday.

Asked if Biden has a state campaign office in Michigan, an aide said he has one in Detroit. The assistant refused to give the address citing security reasons.

“One thing I’m really trying to wrap my arms around is, you know, are we seeing big rallies right now? No,” said state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, a Democrat. “But I feel like people are getting on sooner than they should be.”

As the death toll in Gaza nears 30,000, “non-threat” forces are moving more freely to give voters an outlet for growing discontent within the party.

A group called Listen Michigan runs phone banks with volunteers who speak English, Arabic, Hindi, French and other languages ​​in hopes of reaching as wide a range of voters as possible.

On Saturday afternoon, about 20 students gathered at Kalamazoo College to march to a local polling place to vote “no threat.” Dima Alhesan, field director of Listen to Michigan, held a bull and sang to it as it marched.

“Genocide Joe, what do you say? How many children have you killed today?’ they chanted slogans reminiscent of the 1960s protesters who opposed President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam War policies.

At least some delegates to the national convention in Chicago in August will not pledge to Biden if the “unthreatened” vote passes the 15% threshold in Michigan’s congressional districts on Tuesday. Depending on the size of the safe bloc, these delegates can use their influence at the convention to demand changes in Middle East policy or to support another candidate.

“The goal is to take out Biden’s delegates,” said Suha Gashou, 21, a student leader of the Kalamazoo march. “We think it’s important that we send a message to Biden about where the people stand, not just a ‘whoever’s blue’ vote.” It doesn’t always work that way.”

The leaders of the “Unpresented” movement said that a worthy goal would be 10,000 votes. That figure is about the same as Donald Trump’s margin of victory in Michigan in 2016.

By comparison, when President Barack Obama ran for re-election in the 2012 Democratic primary, about 21,000 people voted in Michigan, or 11% of the total vote.

The higher the turnout on Tuesday, the more worrisome it would be for Biden. Polls show he’s in a close race against Trump, and he’ll need a united and motivated party behind him as he heads into the general election.

Whitmer told reporters Saturday that he understands the passions of those promoting “intimidation-free” voting. But he warned that now is not the time for the party to collapse.

“I also understand that any vote not for President Biden increases the likelihood of another Trump term,” Whitmer said. “So I urge people to make their voices heard, but also to recognize that any vote that is not cast or cast for President Biden makes another term for Trump a reality, and I think that’s very troubling.”

Since the war in Gaza began in October, Biden has done little to reassure Michigan Democrats upset over his support for his attack on Israel. Frustration grows.

USA vetoed the resolution The only country to call for a ceasefire at the United Nations Security Council last week.

Earlier this month, top Biden administration leaders traveled to Michigan to meet with Arab and Muslim American leaders and hear their concerns about the war.

One of the attendees was the mayor of Dearborn, a city with a large Arab-American community. It was the last meeting Mayor Abdullah Hammoud would attend with White House officials unless Biden reversed course, a mayoral aide said.

Various surrogates stepped forward to explain Biden’s position and listen to his critics. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., a progressive leader in Congress, met with a group of students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor last week to discuss the war. Police officers stood vigil outside the meeting room for any noise.

The conversation continued politely as Hannah explained the origins of Biden’s pro-Israel stance.

“He grew up in a different era,” Khanna told the students. The number of Arab American voters who mattered in the 1972 Senate race was probably not large. He grew up at the height of the Cold War, when unconditional support for Israel was axiomatic in American politics.

In a later interview, Khanna said he spoke directly to Biden about the unhappiness within the Democratic coalition. “I said, ‘Mr. Mr. President, you have a problem with progressives. This is a real issue,” said Khanna.

“‘Ro, I understand that,'” Biden replied. ‘I understand the pain and push through [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. Believe me, I am.’

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By 37ci3

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