Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Young Wisconsin progressives lead the latest protest vote against Biden over Gaza

By 37ci3 Apr2,2024

MILWAUKEE – President Joe Biden could be the Democratic nominee in 2024 is buildingBut his critics are on the left they still aim to use the primary on the main battlefield to send a message to him.

Biden, who is facing down-ballot campaigns in several states this year on its management of Israel-Hamas war, now faces one in Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary. Young progressives are leading a movement to vote “no-instructions,” voting for no candidate on the Wisconsin ballot, or labeling their opposition to the administration’s response to the term “unrestricted.” The situation in Gaza.

Young voters in Democratic strongholds like Madison and Milwaukee were critical to Biden’s 2020 victory in Wisconsin and the Electoral College overall, and they want to make it clear to the president that he can’t take them for granted. this time it was given. The Listen Wisconsin campaign aims to convince 20,000 voters to cast their Democratic primary ballot “without instructions,” which is exactly what Biden predicted. margin of victory Four years ago in the state over then-President Donald Trump.

Halah Ahmed, a Palestinian American activist and spokeswoman for Listen to Wisconsin, works with a group of individuals. 20 elected officialsstudents and other grassroots organizations to learn about the no-instruction movement since the campaign began on March 19.

In Milwaukee, demonstrators stood around the speaker
On March 19, the Listen to Wisconsin campaign kicks off in Milwaukee.David Gladstone/NBC News

Ahmed voted for Biden in the 2020 general election after supporting Bernie Sanders in the primaries. He said he’s not sure how he’ll vote in the fall.

“I really feel betrayed by the party leadership,” he said. “I think history will be on our side, but for now, if I want to participate in this democracy, an uninstructed campaign is my only option.”

Wisconsin’s primaries are open to all registered voters, regardless of party affiliation. In recent Democratic primaries, uninstructed voting has garnered only a few thousand votes. in 2020 3590 people voted without instructions In 2016, there were only 1436 people. In 2012, when then-President Barack Obama ran unopposed, 5092 people voted without instructions In the Wisconsin Democratic primary.

Without a formidable primary challenger from the left for support, progressives have turned to states like Wisconsin to express their objections with “not approved,” “not mandated” or “not preferred” ballot lines. Biden’s Gaza policy.

The first major example of this movement occurred in Michigan’s February primary. More 101,000 people (13% of voters) voted “non-loyal” in the Democratic presidential primary, sending two of the state’s 117 delegates to the party’s national convention this summer.

Outside of Michigan, voters in more than a dozen other contests, including Hawaii, Minnesota and Washington state, used a similar line on their ballots. protest form.

Biden still won those states by large margins and will likely do so again in Wisconsin. The 26 delegates leading the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on Tuesday are “not committed.” Biden has 2,610 delegates in his corner. Activists say their goal is not to win the primaries outright, but to pressure Biden and the Democratic Party to change their positions on the war in Gaza.

“We’re seeing this vote in Michigan and Minnesota run without guidance or commitment, and in D.C. there’s a slight shift in opinion,” said Jamila Arabiyat, president of the Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Recent polls have shown that public opinion has turned against Israel during the war. A Gallup poll A poll released last week showed 55% of Americans disapprove of Israel’s military operations in Gaza, up from 45% in November. Among Democrats, 75% disagreed, up 12 points from November.

“Democracy seems to be listening to the majority of Americans who support the ceasefire,” Ahmed said.

When asked about the unguided campaign in Wisconsin, Biden campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said in a statement: “The president believes that making your voice heard and participating in our democracy is central to who we are as Americans. He shares the goal of ending the violence and achieving a just, lasting peace in the Middle East. He works tirelessly for this.”

Generation division

Surveys also show that a a clear age gap related to the conflict. According to a Gallup survey, 46% of voters aged 55 and over approve of Israel’s actions in Gaza, compared to 28% of voters aged 18-34.

Some of these young voters at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are also organizing an effort to educate more people about the uninstructed choice on the ballot.

“I think it’s important for students to see that this campaign is in many ways driven by students and young people who really care about it, and it’s not a niche issue by other people,” he said. Palestinian American and graduate student Dahlia Saba. “It’s a grassroots movement.”

“Without instructions, it’s a way of saying, ‘I’m running in the Democratic primary.’ You should know that I am a registered voter. I care a lot about what happens. But none of the options here speak to what I’m interested in,” he said.

Saba, who said she has family members in Gaza, spent several hours handing out yellow flyers with information about absentee voting and organized a phone bank on campus to reach more Wisconsinites.

Student activist Dahlia Saba hands out flyers on campus
Student activist Dahlia Saba distributes flyers on campus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to inform students about the no-instruction campaign.Lilly Umana/NBC News

“I felt a lot of cognitive dissonance, like going to school, going to class, and pretending everything was normal when I watched the journalists’ videos every day in the background of the worst event I’ve ever seen in my life. And it made me feel very powerless,” Saba said. “But organizing around this, trying to fight for justice, and especially through this no-nonsense campaign, has allowed me to feel more empowered and to feel like I’m really working towards something.”

The events in Milwaukee and Madison also drew advocates and allies of various ages and backgrounds.

“I will not allow our collective grief to be used as a weapon for more violence,” David Shapiro said. Jewish Voices for Peacehe said after the press conference held in Milwaukee.

Kasia Wiech, a member of the TA Alumni Union at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, volunteered to work the phone bank and talk to Wisconsin voters about the no-mandate movement.

“When the war started in Ukraine, I did a lot of refugee work with Ukrainians when I lived in Poland. “I’ve heard stories from people running from bombs, and no one should ever have to go through that,” Wiech said.

Those who participated in the uninstructed campaign also rejected critics’ argument that any vote against Biden was effectively a vote for Trump.

“I do not agree with this provision at all,” Ahmad said, “I think it is better to centralize the month of November than to centralize now. If there is still no ceasefire in November, I don’t know what will be left in Gaza. This is what we focus on in this campaign.”

Unless the Biden administration reverses course soon, Saba said, it could cost Democrats the support of young liberal voters and potentially even the presidential election.

“I’m more interested now than in November. What happens in the coming months will shape my view, but I honestly can’t make any promises. I don’t know how I will vote in November,” said Saba.

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