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Michigan Campaign to Vote “Uncommitted” Grows as Biden Continues Israel Support

Organizers are hoping to send a powerful message to Biden as he continues to back Israel’s genocidal assault.

President Joe Biden speaks at the General Motors Factory ZERO electric vehicle assembly plant on November 17, 2021, in Detroit, Michigan.

A growing coalition of progressives and anti-Zionist advocates is campaigning for voters in Michigan’s upcoming Democratic primary election to vote “uncommitted” rather than cast a vote for President Joe Biden due to the administration’s staunch support for Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza.

As The New York Times reported Wednesday, progressive group Our Revolution is beginning an email, text banking and phone banking campaign to convince voters to cast a protest vote to put more pressure on Biden to change course on his administration’s Gaza policy.

Our Revolution sent an email promoting the effort to 87,000 Michigan members on Wednesday, with the message signed by former House Rep. Andy Levin. The former congressman served two terms in the House before being ousted in the 2022 election, due in large part to a fierce campaign by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to unseat him over his support for Palestinian rights.

“We need to send President Biden a message: We are outraged by U.S. complicity in the destruction of Gaza, the killing of thousands of civilians, including more than 10,000 children, and it must STOP!” the email read. “By voting uncommitted on 2/27, Our Rev supporters can push Biden to change course on Gaza now and increase his chances of winning Michigan in November.”

Levin emphasized the strong impact that Biden’s unflinching Israel support is having on Michigan voters who would otherwise consider going to the polls for him this fall. “I am working with some people who feel like they will never vote for Joe Biden, but there are many, many, many I feel will vote for Joe Biden on November 5 if he changes course,” Levin told The New York Times. “This is the best way I can help Joe Biden.”

Our Revolution echoed Levin’s sentiments in a statement provided to Truthout. “As the email from former Congressman Andy Levin says, the goal is to send the President a message that our policy in Gaza must change, that the [White House] must separate from [Benjamin] Netanyahu and demonstrate that the lives of Gazans and their children matter to us,” the group said. “Voting uncommitted means that we want a unified approach to beating Trump that includes a change in policy.”

Our Revolution’s efforts come amid an existing campaign launched earlier this month, known as Listen to Michigan, for voters to select “Uncommitted” on their ballots in the February 27 primary. Listen to Michigan is being run by Arab American and Muslim advocates. Layla Elabed, Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Michigan) sister, is spearheading the effort.

The group has an email list of about 128,000 voters, and reminds Democrats on its website that Donald Trump won Michigan in 2016 by a margin of 10,000 votes. “Uncommitted Michigan Democrats opposed to Biden’s policy in Gaza can demonstrate that we hold his margin of victory for re-election,” the group said.

The effort has garnered the support of a number of prominent Democrats in the state, like Dearborn Mayor Abdullah H. Hammoud and the Majority Floor Leader in the Michigan House, Rep. Abraham Aiyash, who recently spoke on CNN about the effort. Aiyash said that he personally plans to vote “uncommitted.”

“This is a message to all Americans: The best way to exercise democracy is through your vote. And we are clear that any elected official, any person running for office, has to earn the votes of the people. I don’t run for office telling people, ‘vote for me because I’m not the other guy,’” said Aiyash. “What we have seen over the last 124 days is that there has not been a commitment or priority to protect the Palestinian people to stop the ongoing genocide. So for now, we are telling the Democratic party, we are telling President Biden, that we remain uncommitted for now until we see some significant change.”

Advocates for Palestinian rights have launched similar campaigns in other states. In New Hampshire, organizers put together a Vote Ceasefire campaign for the state’s Democratic primary last month, which was an entirely write-in effort because the Democratic National Committee did not sanction the primary. Ultimately, “ceasefire” received roughly 1,500 votes, versus Biden’s 77,000.

Barring extreme circumstances, it’s almost certain that Biden will be the Democratic nominee for the presidential election. However, polls have shown that his chances of winning — especially in the crucial swing state of Michigan, where there is a large coalition of Muslim and Arab American voters — may be seriously hampered by his support of Israel’s assault on Gaza, with a large coalition of voters who are refusing to vote for him for that reason.

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