Thursday, July 4, 2024

Gaza Remains Top Priority for “Uncommitted” Voters | TOME


As Democrats nationwide pressure President Joe Biden to abandon his reelection bid, voters aligned with the “uncommitted” movement to protest his handling of the war in Gaza say they won’t get behind any nominee who doesn’t make a clear commitment to a permanent ceasefire.

The anti-war movement to vote “uncommitted” instead of supporting Biden took off earlier this year ahead of Michigan’s Democratic primary in February. Advocates for the protest vote later launched chapters in other critical swing states including Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and have netted more than half a million votes in more than a dozen primaries. The movement has garnered support for at least 25 delegates at the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

Activists from around the country told The Intercept that they will advocate for an anti-war agenda at the convention in August and withhold their vote in November unless an adequate candidate steps up, listing policy priorities such as support for a permanent ceasefire and standing up to the pro-Israel lobby as it intervenes in Democratic primaries.

“My number one criteria for any candidate is opposing the genocide in Gaza,” said Saad Farooq, an uncommitted voter in Massachusetts. Farooq said it was unlikely that the Democratic National Committee would select any candidate who took a stance against Israel’s ongoing war, and that he would support Green Party candidate Jill Stein if she were to appear on the ballot in Massachusetts.

Cole Sandick, who left his primary ballot in New York blank, said his apprehension over supporting Biden stemmed completely from his handling of the war on Gaza. “The rest of his presidency has been imperfect but better than I thought it was going to be, and I was fully on board to vote for him prior to October 7,” Sandick wrote. “Really all I want from an alternative candidate is simply *some* moderation on this issue. Some commitment to a ceasefire, some recognition of the carnage that’s taken place. Some concern for the civil liberties being ripped away from all those like me who dissent and protest.”

Sandick said he would support Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer or Harris. “Nominating Biden at this point is a death sentence.”

Shaneez Hameed, an uncommitted voter in California, also said that the war in Gaza is a red line for him as a voter.

For some activists, Harris’s association with Biden makes her candidacy a non-starter. Mohamed Hussein, an uncommitted voter in Minnesota, said that he didn’t want to see anyone from the current administration replace Biden. “I would have no faith in them to speak up when they can’t even speak up to the obvious circus going on,” he said. “I would question their ability to handle difficult situations and decisions because it seems like no one in the administration is pulling the alarm on the embarrassing situation.”

Will Dawson, an uncommitted voter in Washington, D.C., named several factors that could get him to switch his vote from the Green Party’s Stein to another politician. First on his list is a promise to call for an immediate ceasefire and fighting the influence of the pro-Israel lobby and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Congress.

As uncommitted voters list their conditions, concerns around backing a candidate who supports Israel’s war are spreading to others within the Democratic Party apparatus. One DNC delegate, who was granted anonymity to speak freely, told The Intercept they have been experiencing reservations as a delegate due to Biden’s unrelenting support for Israel. “Do I really want to, you know, even in any way, whether it’s symbolic or not, contribute to Biden being our nominee? And I struggled because it’s — do I want to vote for someone who’s supporting a genocide? No.”

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