President Biden Just Lost a Big Swath of His Base
Following President Biden’s trip to Israel where he stood next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pledged unwavering support for a government that has already killed thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians, I received the following text from my mother: “He’s not getting my vote.”
For Palestinian Americans, Arab Americans and the larger Muslim American community, this is the overriding sentiment following days of Israel’s indiscriminate bombing that has resulted in the deaths of over 5,000 civilians — including over 2,000 children. Without calling for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the bombardment, the President has not only alienated the Arab/Muslim voting bloc, but also an even larger influential segment of the Democratic base — young voters.
Well over a year before the current Mideast crisis, a Pew Research Study found that younger Americans feel as positive — if not more — towards Palestinians as they do Israelis. “U.S. adults under 30 view the Palestinian people at least as warmly (61% very or somewhat favorable) as the Israeli people (56%) and rate the Palestinian government as favorably (35%) as the Israeli government (34%).”
A Reuters/IPSOS poll published just last week showed that 34% of Americans aged 18–39 believe Hamas is responsible for the current conflict, compared to 58% of older Americans. And some 20% of respondents under 40 backed supporting Israel, compared to 53% of older respondents. While opinions among Gen Z and Millennials are of course varied (as they are on any issue), it cannot be denied that the overwhelming majority aren’t buying the status quo and in many cases, are demanding immediate change. One need only look at massive protests on college campuses, in big cities (and small towns), as well as on social media to know that they are not ok with unilaterally giving Netanyahu a virtual blank check to do what he wants. They are not ok with bombing innocent civilians, and they are not ok with our own government fully supporting and helping to fund what amounts to war crimes by the use of white phosphorus, indiscriminate bombing and cutting off water, power, fuel and more.
The majority of America’s youth already had great sympathy to the Palestinian plight prior to the horror that we are now seeing in Gaza, and that groundswell of sentiment is only likely to increase as Israel’s bombardment continues and the death toll mounts. By allowing himself to be dragged into yet another war, Biden has miscalculated the pulse of the nation that was already exhausted with 20+ years of the ‘war on terror’ (which clearly didn’t alleviate the problem of terrorism). For young people and many progressives, this is just added insult to their previously existing political stance and beliefs. Many of them didn’t favor Biden to begin with because he did in fact vote for the disastrous Iraq war and is far more hawkish than they are comfortable with. Many of them held their noses and voted for Biden in 2020 because they were well aware of the dangers of another term of Donald Trump’s Presidency. But next year, a vast majority of them may just sit out the election and nobody can really blame them.
The majority of America’s youth already had great sympathy to the Palestinian plight prior to the horror that we are now seeing in Gaza, and that groundswell of sentiment is only likely to increase as Israel’s bombardment continues and the death toll mounts.
Losing the Arab/Muslim vote by itself may be very detrimental to Biden, especially in swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. The visceral disgust, betrayal and disappointment that many feel in those communities isn’t an exaggeration — at this point, I don’t even think I could convince my own mother to vote. To dismiss their concerns is not only insulting, but ill-advised as they can make the difference in what everyone agrees will be a close Presidential election in 2024. So far, Biden’s outreach to the community has been minimal at best at a time when Islamophobia and hate crimes are running rampant, including the stabbing death of six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume. Even George W. Bush went to a mosque and at least made a pr effort to stand with the community after the horrific 9/11 attacks (before lying us into another war). Biden must do more.
The youth vote could inflict long-lasting damage to the Democratic Party, as many of them were too young for the rush to war following 9/11, and most still possess some idealistic hope for a change to foreign policy. As team Biden and others try to convince Americans to support sending billions to Israel and sending weaponry, that antiquated message is falling on deaf ears. The vast majority of young people don’t get their news from traditional outlets and aren’t buying the same old talking points. They are far more interconnected, have friends from all backgrounds and get their news/info. on social media and online in an instant, thereby bypassing legacy media. Unlike the Iraq war and even the war in Afghanistan where images of dead babies, mothers, grandparents and families were shielded from them, they can see it all now directly from people on the ground in an instant. It’s not as easy to sell them on killing innocents under the guise of national security which doesn’t secure anything anyway.
In a CNN/SSRS poll published on October 15th, only 27% of those aged 18–34 see the Israeli response as fully justified, compared to 81% of those over the age of 65. Though often dismissed or ignored, young people are the largest generation in the country, and increasingly using their power to effect real change. Let’s not forget who delivered Democrats a glorious victory in the 2022 midterms — the youth of America.
“Not in our name,” is the resounding call at many demonstrations taking place across the country. It’s being chanted from a broad spectrum of groups from progressive Jewish organizations to a diverse coalition of young folks and older progressives. They are tired of being dragged into endless wars which have already cost this nation trillions, meanwhile there isn’t adequate health care, livable wages, affordable housing and so much more. The vast majority are simply not ok with sending bombs rather than aid, and tired of the death and destruction done in our name.
In fact, according to Data for Progress, 66% of likely voters strongly or somewhat agree that the U.S. should call for a ceasefire and de-escalation of violence in Gaza, and use its diplomatic relationship with Israel to prevent further violence and civilian deaths. That is a clear majority. The Biden Administration is vastly out of touch with the sentiments of a plurality of its own citizens and the President is surrounded by individuals that are adamant on maintaining business as usual when most want a ceasefire and a diplomatic resolution that will actually bring about peace in the region — not trigger further violence there and elsewhere.
The mass mobilization and demands for an end to the airstrikes are only increasing by the day both here at home and around the world. Even a group of 55 prominent actors, artists and other celebrities signed an open letter to President Biden calling for an immediate ceasefire. As the Biden Administration continues to try to convince the American public of the need to give Netanyahu billions to commit what amounts to war crimes, the calls for a pause will likely only grow stronger as more people see images of dead children and utter brutality.
If this horrendous mass murder of Palestinian civilians drags on, Biden might as well prepare to pack up and leave the Oval Office — and he’ll have nobody to blame but himself.
The author is an independent journalist/analyst who has appeared on CNN and is often published in the US by a number of big media titles. She can be followed on X at @NidaKhanNY