Michigan’s warning shot: ‘Uncommitted’ votes shake Biden’s Gaza war stance

President Joe Biden may have clinched victory in Michigan’s Democratic primary, but it’s the “uncommitted” votes that stole the spotlight, delivering a powerful message to the White House over its Gaza war policy.

Amidst the electoral fray, this grassroots movement made waves, securing two delegates to the Democratic National Convention, and amplified voices of disagreement against Biden’s handling of Israel’s onslaught in besieged Gaza.

In Michigan’s primary election, a groundswell of grassroots activism known as the “Listen to Michigan” movement emerged as a formidable force, catalysing a profound shift in the state’s political dynamics and signalling a broader discontent within the Democratic Party’s ranks.

At the heart of this movement lies a resolute call for a change in Biden administration’s stance on Israel’s bloody war on Gaza which is now in its 145th day and which has killed nearly 30,000 people, mostly children and women. Over 70,000 Palestinians are wounded.

REUTERSAttendees dance the Dabke during an election night gathering as Democrats and Republicans hold their Michigan primary presidential election, in Dearborn

Nasir Daraghmeh, a biochemist hailing from Michigan, told TRT World that Democratic voters are disenchanted with the status quo on Gaza.

“It’s time for President Biden to heed the resounding call from the ‘uncommitted’ vote for a ceasefire in Gaza.”

Despite Biden’s decisive victory in the primary, the remarkable surge of “uncommitted” votes has surpassed initial expectations, garnering over 100,000 ballots.

In the heart of Arab American and Muslim communities, the only discussion this week was over the “uncommitted” vote, with counties like Ann Arbor’s Washtenaw boasting a staggering 17 percent of voters choosing “uncommitted” in the primary, as per county clerk’s website data.

Biden lost no time to thank Michigan over his victory.

“I want to thank every Michigander who made their voice heard today. Exercising the right to vote and participating in our democracy is what makes America great,” the US president said in a statement after the Michigan victory while warning that there is “much left to do” to defeat Trump in November.

“You’ve heard me say many times it’s never a good bet to bet against the United States of America. It’s never a good bet to bet against Michiganders either. This fight for our freedoms, for working families, and for Democracy is going to take all of us coming together. I know that we will.”

Not many are convinced.

Mohamed Abou Ali, a small businessman from Dearborn, echoed the sentiments of his constituency, saying, “Michigan’s anger is not just a whisper but a thunderous roar demanding change. President Biden must act swiftly for a ceasefire in Gaza, or risk further alienating our state from his administration’s policies.”

‘Listen to us, Mr President’

As Michigan grapples with the aftermath of the primary election, the Biden campaign faces mounting pressure to engage with the burgeoning movement and address the underlying concerns voiced by voters.

“It is my hope, Mr. President, that you listen to us,” said Abdullah Hammoud, the mayor of Dearborn. “That you choose democracy over tyranny. That you choose the people of America over [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Asked about the risk of electing Trump in November, Hammoud said that was a question that should be posed to Biden.

“President Biden is the one seeking the highest office and he is the candidate who’s facing off against Donald Trump,” he said. “He has to earn the votes of the constituency that he’s trying to serve.”

State Representative Abraham Aiyash, a vocal advocate of “Listen to Michigan”, expressed optimism regarding the prospect of securing delegate representation at the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

“We’re going to Chicago, by the way, 174 days from now, we’re going to be at the Democratic National Convention, pushing and growing this anti-war movement,” Aiyash told a press briefing.

REUTERSA woman votes at a voting site as Democrats and Republicans hold their Michigan primary presidential election, in Detroit, Michigan, February 27, 2024.

It is not the leaders alone.

The widespread resentment regarding Biden’s handling of the Gaza war can be seen in the young also. Aliya Khalil, a student representative, articulated the deep-seated frustrations of Michigan’s youth.

“Michigan’s frustration with Biden has reached its boiling point, and President Biden cannot afford to ignore it. The uncommitted vote’s call for a ceasefire in Gaza reflects our state’s deep-seated discontent with current policies. It’s time for action, not just words,” Khalil told TRT World, echoing the sentiments of many young people in the Upper Midwestern state.

‘The needle has shifted’

Across the Great Lakes State, professionals agree, reflecting a common theme.

Fauzeen Qureshi, a Product Executive, deeply invested in Michigan’s political landscape, highlighted the profound implications of the “uncommitted” vote, signaling a pivotal moment in the state’s political trajectory.

“The disproportionate number of deaths emanating from Gaza underscores the urgency of addressing critical issues and this vote serves as a wake-up call for the Biden administration,” Qureshi told TRT World.

“Here in Michigan, a remarkable grassroots movement has emerged. The collective mobilization to vote is unprecedented and demonstrates a remarkable unity. I believe that while 10,000 votes may not have made a significant impact, the overwhelming response of over 100,000 ‘uncommitted’ votes has surely shifted the needle and caught everyone’s attention in Washington,” she added.

As the movement continues to gather momentum, its impact reverberates far beyond the confines of the state, underscoring the profound potential of grassroots activism to shape the future of American politics.

“Regardless of the outcome in November, one thing is clear: the responsibility lies squarely on Biden and his administration,” Abdullah Awad, a young professional from Pontiac, Michigan, who cast an “uncommitted” vote, told TRT World.

“We won’t be taken for granted.”

Source: TRT World

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