How Wisconsin campaigners hope to use ‘non-committal’ votes to pressure Biden | Joe Biden news

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Washington, DC – Heba Mohammad, a 32-year-old organizer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, after participating in the Democratic campaign in the mid-2010s, hoped that a change in public opinion on Palestine would soon be reflected in the entire party.

Now, he’s looking to build on his experience preparing presidential hopefuls like Hilary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020 to rally in the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday.

Wisconsin is an important battleground state for the United States, and activists hope to use the vote to amplify the message that many Democrats will not stand for President Biden’s support for Israel. war in Gaza.

The group in Wisconsin is following similar protests elsewhere, where Mr. Biden is seeking re-election in 2024. The idea is to stop voting for Biden, in favor of voting as “uncommitted” – or, in Wisconsin, “uneducated”.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mohammad also described the difficulty many Palestinian Americans face in participating in the Democratic Party. Many prominent Democrats, including Clinton and Biden, have supported a long-standing policy of providing political and material aid to Israel, despite accusations of violence against the Palestinian people.

Rights groups have come to the conclusion that what Israel is doing to the Palestinians is apartheid.

“In my mind, I found a way to know why I was able to work on this campaign,” Mohammad said.

Heba Mohammad shows ads urging Democrats to vote ‘uneducated’ [Courtesy of Heba Mohammad]

“In 2020, more and more people understand Palestine, and there was a gradual change in people,” he said. “And maybe in the back of my mind, I was hoping that this change would also mean a change in policy.”

“As far as we know, that was not the case.”

A “non-committal” group appeared in front of the Michigan primary on February 27.

Arab Americans make up a larger portion of Michigan’s population than any other state in the country, and more than 2 percent identify as multiracial.

But the “non-committal” movement found support beyond Arab Americans. About 13 percent of the votes cast were “noncommittal”, exceeding Michigan’s Arab American demographic.

Critics say Michigan’s 101,000 “non-committal” voters have confirmed the unity of several people in the state, especially young people. people are progressive.

A similar effort in Minnesota was created with less time and resources — and blew past expectationsand about 19 percent of voters in the Democratic primary, or more than 45,000 people, are voting “not committed”.

Together, states including Washington, Hawaii, North Carolina and Massachusetts have seen hundreds of thousands of “non-committed” votes cast, totaling nearly half a million.

Critics point out, however, that it is impossible to determine which “invalid” votes were cast as part of the Gaza protests, as opposed to other reasons.

Wisconsin will submit its test to the “non-committal” system. Last week, the founders of the original Michigan movement launched the Uncommitted National Movement, seeking to hold the first protests elsewhere.

Wisconsin, which has a smaller Arab American and Muslim population than Michigan or Minnesota, is the first state to be targeted by the new national campaign. weight back.

But regardless of the results of Wisconsin, Zeina Ashrawi Hutchison, coordinator of Palestine in America and director of development at the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, said that the group has already made “important and long-term”.

“What will affect the elections in November and beyond … is an unprecedented action in all aspects of life, improvement and unity of the Palestinian community,” he said earlier this week, speaking at an event held by the Arab Center in Washington DC.

“Another important thing is the American public’s understanding and exposure to the plight of the Palestinian people – and hopefully that will last a long time as well.”

‘I can’t do this anymore’

For Mohammad, his break with President Biden came quickly. In May 2021, the year Biden took office, Israel protested it started to rain on Gaza in response to rockets fired by Palestinian forces that killed 13 Israelis, including two children.

Israeli missiles killed 260 Palestinians, including 39 women and 67 children, and 1,800 homes were destroyed during the 11th.

“Then I told myself that I can’t do this anymore. I refuse to work for any person or any party that does not support Palestine. And that was it,” said Mohammad.

He also wrote a letter that criticized the Biden administration’s policies in Israel as “denying the Palestinian people peace, security, and independence”. It was signed by 500 former Biden campaign and Democratic National Committee staff, but it did little to change the administration.

In many ways, the letter predicted that Biden’s insider has seen the war in Gaza progress.

Some people have said that the protests are happening today which has never happened beforegovernment workers organizing underground protests, workers in popular organizations writing letters attractive change, and high quality resignation.

So far, an estimated 32,623 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, with aid groups warning that they are on the brink of a humanitarian famine. Although the Biden administration has increased its opposition to Israel, it has refused to increase military aid to the country.

Meanwhile, polls have shown overwhelming support for the ceasefire among Democrats. A recent Gallup poll found that 55 percent of Americans disapprove of Israel’s actions in Gaza, up from 45 percent in November. Among Democrats alone, that number was 75 percent.

While preparing for Wisconsin, Mohammad said he was struck by the number of people connecting US policy to war and domestic issues.

“People understand that the problems of Palestine are related to all the problems we are facing here. This is true even outside the cities, where we can probably expect more people to organize this,” he said.

“We’re losing rural hospitals in Wisconsin,” he added. “At the same time, we are seeing hospitals being bombed in Palestine with our tax dollars.”

Using skills

The group Listen in Wisconsin has set a goal of reaching 20,682 absentee ballots in the state – the margin by which Biden beat Trump there in 2020.

Mohammad admits that his work in 2020 helped clear the border. During the presidential election, Biden campaigned heavily to win back the Midwest states that Clinton lost to Trump in 2016.

For him, Mohammad works on “relationships”, a strategy that he managed in the government during Biden 2020. This strategy uses “the reach of friends and friends” to create a network of connections that goes beyond the community that votes. Responses from that type are much higher than those from short-term calls, he said.

“When I arrived [Listen to Wisconsin]”I told them that I wanted to make sure that we were using proven tools and techniques to help our community become ‘uneducated’,” he said.

“I’m very proud to be able to use the program I created in 2020 to win Wisconsin to hold Joe Biden accountable and to make clear what we want.”

On Tuesday, when asked about the Wisconsin demonstration attempt by Milwaukee-based radio station WTMJ, Biden campaign manager Mitch Landrieu described it as a free speech: “I think President Biden thinks that everybody should, you know, exercise their first amendment.”

He then voted in the November general election. “When the chips are down and the future of democracy is at stake, there will be two elections,” he said. “And I hope the people of Wisconsin will do the right thing.”

The primaries, meanwhile, are formal. Both Biden and Trump already are cinched the number of delegates should be listed as those elected by their parties in the general election.

But several prominent Democrats and supporters have warned that Mr. Biden should respond quickly to the message the “noncommittal” group is sending.

In a memo obtained by NBC News earlier this month, two prominent Democratic leaders, Tory Gavito and Jenifer Fernandez Ancona, warned that “non-commitment” should be seen as “a siren and a clarion call”.

The forces that bring this group together, he said, should not be “ignored, taken for granted or dismissed”.

For Mohammad, the current moment shows the great failure of the Democratic Party and the failure to show the courts and their freedom fighters in the courts.

“I think they’re missing out on the skills of people like me, and I think they’re setting a bad example for other people who might be thinking about getting engaged but don’t listen,” she said.

“If the party cares about its organizing power and its future, it is making a big mistake,” he said.

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