Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud speaks during an election night gathering, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Dearborn, Mich. Some Democratic voters pledged to vote "uncommitted" in Tuesday's primary to let President Joe Biden know they aren't happy with his support for Israel in its response to the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Significant numbers of Democrats are voting “uncommitted” with some choosing not to vote during the 2024 election season, to demand the United States urge a ceasefire of Israel’s retaliatory actions that have killed more than 31,000 Palestinian civilians in Gaza while laying waste to the blockaded enclave of nearly 2.1 million inhabitants confined within it.

As the national elections draw near, Arab and Muslim Americans, Progressives, and a growing number of young voters are demanding a say in their party’s platform before the August Democratic National Convention, to be held in Chicago, and the rematch between President Joseph R. Biden and former President Donald J. Trump in November.

Michigan Democrats leveraged their displeasure over what many have labeled American support of genocide during the February 27 primaries there, where over 100,000 voters selected “uncommitted” in protest of the president’s unwavering support for a war that has displaced over 1.5 million civilians.

Organizing to pressure the president into withdrawing support from what a vast majority of the international community has condemned as Israeli war crimes, the political footwork of “Listen to Michigan,” a group whose stated goal was to raise 10,000 uncommitted votes in Michigan, secured 10 times that number, with additional states following suit during the March 5 Super Tuesday primaries.


Voters in the states of Minnesota, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Colorado also expressed their unhappiness with the nature of Israel’s war on Palestinians, not only in Gaza but also in the Occupied Territories of the West Bank.

According to a March 1 news release, Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) wrote a letter to President Biden urging him “to decisively oppose any invasion by Israeli forces or further bombardment in Rafah,” located on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, and “to facilitate an immediate, lasting ceasefire to save lives,” the news release read.

“We ask you to utilize every avenue possible to achieve this end, including ending the use of the U.S. veto in the UN Security Council to protect Netanyahu, a partial or full cessation of offensive support to Israel, and an end to any additional transfer of funds, weapons, military equipment, and any other material support,” wrote the Congresswomen.

“We must use our full power and leverage to secure the release of all the hostages and others arbitrarily detained and support a drastic surge in humanitarian aid. This is only achievable with a lasting ceasefire,” Rep. Tlaib’s statement said of their joint letter to the president.

Understanding the implications of “swing state” politics, and the importance of Michigan in the upcoming general elections, President Biden’s apparent change of course regarding humanitarian aid appears to have forced his hand as outlined in his March 7 State of the Union address.

“The war has taken a greater toll on innocent civilians than all previous wars in Gaza combined, more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of whom are not Hamas, thousands and thousands of innocents, women and children, girls and boys are also orphaned, nearly 2,000,000 more Palestinians under bombardment, or displacement,” Mr. Biden said in part. He described plans to call for a six-week ceasefire to get prisoners released, ease the humanitarian crisis, and deliver much-needed aid.

“Tonight, I am directing the U.S. military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean, on the coast of Gaza, that can receive large shipments carrying food, water, medicine, and temporary shelters. No U.S. boots will be on the ground,” he said.

A paradigm shift?

Dr. Ray Winbush, director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgen State University, told The Final Call that the Democrats are in a lot of trouble and that the votes in Michigan and Minnesota came largely from highly dissatisfied Muslim and Arab American populations.

“Israel gets the lion’s share of weapons, foreign aid, support in general from the United States, and our tax dollars are being used to kill Palestinians,” Dr. Winbush said. “The uncommitted or undecided vote that we are seeing in huge numbers, are people that are dissatisfied with the Democrats.  At the same time, they don’t want to vote Republican because of the anti-Muslim policies that Trump executed in his first days in office as president,” he said.

“So, there’s a dilemma, but it reflects the worldview that genocide is taking place right before our eyes.”

He explained the intensity of dissatisfaction with American policy and how it continues to manifest at home and abroad. He drew comparisons to the international and domestic fallout from the Vietnam War in the 1960s and ’70s, particularly what it implied for youth and critics of what many called America’s imperial policy toward the darker people of the world.

“We are looking at a nation of people being wiped off the face of the earth and people are frustrated to the extent that even a White U.S. Airman immolated himself in front of the Israeli embassy in this country!” Dr. Winbush insisted. “I hadn’t seen that since the Vietnam War, when Buddhist Monks were (setting themselves on fire) protesting the war, so this is a horrific situation.”

The political maturity of Arab American and Muslim American voters in Michigan and Minnesota should serve as an example of how unity and economic independence can yield policy concessions rather than campaign promises and token appointments, Dr. Winbush said. The threat of holding votes to influence party platforms demonstrates the effectiveness of unity and the wielding of political power. “We have to be strategic, and I think the Muslims are, in their vote,” he said.

“And on a broader level, if Black people, in following what the Muslims are doing, withhold their vote this election, in 2028, you’ll have the makings of a huge coalition between the Black folk in this country and the Muslims. That’s being strategic in your vote,” Dr. Winbush said of the national elections.

Regarding the retention of political power among Black Americans, Professor Eric McDaniel of the Department of Government at the University of Texas and co-director of the Politics of Race and Ethnicity Lab, said being an aware and consistent voter, particularly in state and local politics, and building coalitions around interests of mutual concern is where the rubber meets the road. Regarding lessons for Black and Brown America, Prof. McDaniel also reiterated the need for Black Americans to focus more on state and local politics as a means to influence national politics effectively.

“A lot of the things Black people are mad about, and want action taken at the national level, are really state and local issues. If you want to overhaul policing, that’s a state and local thing not a national thing, with health, that is a state and local thing, education, state and local, so the problem we’re having is that we’re expecting the federal government to step in where really, it’s the power of the state,” Prof. McDaniel explained.

Guidance in a time of trouble

Marcus Muhammad, mayor of the city of Benton Harbor, Michigan, told The Final Call that voting in one’s interest has always been in line with guidance from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and that votes tallied from the recent Michigan primary serve as an example of being aware of one’s self-interest and choosing whether to engage in the political process or not.

“What we saw in the uncommitted vote, which was over 100,000 voters in the presidential primary in the state of Michigan, we saw that principle or that practice executed,” Mayor Muhammad explained.

“It was not just the Arabs or Muslim votes out of Dearborn, if you look at the tally statewide, you had different people with different interests that are not happy with the Biden Administration and you even saw uncommitted votes in the Republican presidential primary,” he said.

“So, this is a phenomenon touching both sides,” Muhammad said. “There’s over one million Black voters in the State of Michigan, and the largest voting population is (among) those who did not vote, and it’s going to be very interesting to see what the general election looks like,” he said.

“The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad stated that we’re at nearly 100 percent dissatisfaction, and when you have 100 percent dissatisfaction, then that’s when you’ll bring about a 100 percent change.”