Where Gaza Hurts Biden

Biden War

New Orleans       Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi are about as far away from being battleground states for the 2024 election as any savvy handicapper or oddsmaker would verify.  Unfortunately, these and other deep red states are the places where I end up doing a lot of my work and spending a lot of time.   Not surprisingly, as I do my own informal surveys and listening tours among family, friends, neighbors, and random acquaintances, I try to get the feeble pulse of the electorate six months out.

Here’s one takeaway that is disturbing.  Among some red state millennials, this Gaza killing field of Palestinians is hurting President Biden, not because of antisemitism among progressives, but simply because of the blood price that Israel is extracting in this futile and unwinnable war ostensibly against Hamas.  I’m not sure how much more Biden can do in this no-win situation where he is caught in the middle.  He can stop the supply of offensive weapons, while continuing to provide defensive weapons, which he is doing, but it doesn’t make anyone break into a happy dance, when the death toll of women and children continues to rise and people are starving to death.

For these more liberally minded, previously Biden 2020 voters, it’s not like any of them are going to register a protest vote for Trump.  They just aren’t going to vote.  One young woman told me this was the first election since she began voting where she has stopped arguing with her friends and cohort that they have to vote.  It’s too contentious now.  Some of her friends start crying when encouraged to vote.  When I asked her if concerns about access to abortion don’t offset some of this horror over Gaza, she simply said, “that ship has sailed.”  She was referring to Louisiana of course where there is no ability to initiate a ballot measure unless the legislature, now a Republican supermajority, puts it forward, so she’s right; it’s not happening. There’s still hope elsewhere in the twenty-odd states so enabled.  In places like Arkansas, organizers are being discouraged from putting abortion on the ballot by national reform groups that feel there’s little chance of winning, which is disturbing.  We can’t only fight, when we know we can win.  We need to engage voters, like this woman’s cohort, not argue that our program for change is hopeless and our prospects of victory small.

Some battleground junkies would argue, it doesn’t matter, because it won’t move the Electoral College if there are more votes for Biden when he loses in the deep red South.  Maybe, but all of this is a fight for America, not just for someone running for president.  Having decisively won the popular vote nationally in one election after another is important, because it is the critical barometer of what the majority of American voters feel, not about where they live.

Biden needs the Gaza war to end, and I actually believe the administration is doing what it can to pressure Israel.  He needs inflation to settle, and optimism about family income, security and jobs to increase.  He needs the justice system to prove that even the highest and mightiest among us, like Trump, have to bend to the law.  He needs to get a pony for Christmas, but regardless of what he needs, we all need everyone to vote one way or another, if we’re going to make change today or tomorrow.