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Bowman Warns Biden About Dwindling Support From Young Voters Over Gaza Policy

“My district doesn’t want bombs and weapons and billions to be sent to Israel to kill babies,” the lawmaker said.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman leads a news conference with content creators to defend TikTok on Capitol Hill on March 22, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D) has said that President Joe Biden must change course on his policies toward Israel if he wants to stop alienating crucial parts of the Democratic and progressive voter base, citing last week’s significant protest vote turnout in Wisconsin as a warning sign for the campaign.

In an interview on MSNBC on Sunday, Bowman said that Biden and the Democratic Party’s backing of Israel’s genocidal assault of Gaza is causing large swaths of young people and people of color to be deterred from voting for Biden in the general election this fall.

“[Democrats have] always had a problem engaging voters of color, young people and certain demographics. It’s going to be harder now because of how we have pretty much not responded well to what’s happening in Gaza,” said Bowman, who said the organizing efforts for Palestinian rights across the U.S. are “encouraging.”

Bowman said that he hopes pro-Palestine organizers’ efforts are pushing Biden to call for a permanent ceasefire and “create a pathway to peace.”

The lawmaker’s comments come amid a movement that has spread rapidly across the country for voters to write in pro-Palestine messages, select “uncommitted” or a similar choice, or leave their ballots blank for state Democratic primaries that count such protest votes. With campaigns organized in just weeks, advocates in states with early primaries like New Hampshire and Michigan blazed a path for voters to send Biden a message on Gaza; as of last week, over half a million voters had cast a protest vote against the Biden-backed genocide so far, even with roughly half of states not having protest vote options for voters.

Wisconsin was a particular success for the “uncommitted” campaign in last week’s primaries, with over 47,000 voters selecting “uninstructed” over Biden — representing more than double the vote margin that carried Biden to victory in the state in 2020, with Biden having won by only about 20,600 votes over Donald Trump.

The activism against Israel’s genocide of Gaza and occupation of Palestine has seemingly had an effect on the Biden campaign and administration, with the administration coopting pro-Palestine advocates’ language of “ceasefire” in public and leaking stories about the supposed frustration that Biden is feeling over the genocide while continuing to send a steady stream of arms to Israel.

Some Democrats in Congress also appear to be slowly inching toward supporting calls for conditioning or halting aid to Israel after an Israeli airstrike last week killed seven international aid workers for World Central Kitchen. In a letter signed by 37 Democrats in the House sent last week, the group urged Biden to stop approving weapons transfers to Israel in light of the strike. Notably, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), a staunch supporter of Israel who has lashed out against pro-Palestine advocates, also signed the letter, in a potential sign of shifting tides on the issue among some Democrats.

Bowman, a letter signatory, said that the number of signatures on the message as well as the growing number of lawmakers who have come out in support of a ceasefire in Gaza is only reflective of the majority of Americans who oppose Israel’s military actions and the U.S.’s backing of them.

“My district doesn’t want bombs and weapons and billions to be sent to Israel to kill babies,” said Bowman. “My district wants that money sent to our district so people can afford housing and childcare.”