It has not been a good month for Joe Biden since he hit the campaign trail hoping to solidify support from registered Democrats for his reelection for president in 2024.
At Biden’s campaign kickoff rally at Montgomery Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, on Jan. 5, scores of demonstrators gathered outside the hall where he was speaking with signs and chants denouncing “Genocide Joe.”
Demonstrators disrupted Biden’s Jan. 8 speech at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where eight Black parishioners and their pastor were shot to death in a 2015 racist attack. One demonstrator shouted: “If you really care about the lives lost here, then you should honor the lives lost and call for a ceasefire in Palestine!” (ABC News)
After leaving the church in South Carolina, Biden flew to Dallas, where he was confronted at Love Field Airport by protesters who temporarily blocked the entrance, until 13 were arrested.
At Biden’s first big campaign rally on Jan. 23, at George Mason University in Manassas, Virginia, his 22-minute speech was interrupted over a dozen times as demonstrators, scattered throughout the audience, shouted demands calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, and others protested outside the event. As Biden left the building, his motorcade was confronted by more protesters.
In Washington, D.C., union workers chanted against “Genocide Joe” and demanded he call for a ceasefire in Gaza during his appearance at the United Auto Workers conference to receive their endorsement on Jan. 24.
ABC News reported that one 29-year-old UAW member, yelling for a ceasefire as police dragged him from the room during Biden’s speech, said: “For most people, you get very few chances in this life to confront the president of the United States. There was no way that we weren’t going to take that opportunity to speak up for ourselves, for our members, to get a chance to let the president know how we feel.”
Black clergy put Biden on notice
But as bad as things were going for Biden in his first weeks on the campaign trail, they just went from bad to worse. Support from Black voters was credited for Biden winning the Democratic Party nomination in 2020 and beating Trump in the general election. On Jan. 8, 1,000 Black clergy, representing hundreds of thousands of congregants across the U.S., issued a demand that Biden call for a ceasefire in Gaza or risk losing their support. They also called for Hamas to release the hostages it holds, and for Israel to stop its war in Gaza and its occupation of the West Bank.
In late October 2023, Black clergy began calling on Biden and the Congressional Black Caucus, pushing for a ceasefire. By the hundreds, they took out full-page ads in national newspapers calling for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds. These pastors are being pushed by their members who are increasingly critical of Biden’s response to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza as a result of Israel’s campaign of genocide.
Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, co-convener of the National African American Clergy Network, with around 15 million Black members, who helped set up the meetings between Biden and the clergy, told the New York Times, “Black clergy have seen war, militarism, poverty and racism all connected, but the Israel-Gaza war, unlike Iran and Afghanistan, has evoked the kind of deep-seated angst among Black people that I have not seen since the civil rights movement.” (Jan. 28)
#AbandonBiden, ceasefire now
Black voters have been the Democratic Party’s most consistent loyal base since the Civil Rights era. Without their support, and facing growing criticism from union members also calling for Biden to support a ceasefire, his chances of winning the election grow increasingly slim.
It would be bad enough for Biden if this mounting renouncement was just from Black clergy, but leaders of other major voter constituencies have already put him on notice not to count on their support this time around.
Although a small minority of the voting population in the U.S., Arab and Muslim Americans played a key role in helping Biden win in several swing states such as Michigan, where they constitute a significant portion of organized voters.
Organizers of the #AbandonBiden campaign, initiated by Muslim leaders in the U.S., began rallying support in October in nine swing states with sizable Muslim and Arab voting populations.
In early December, Arab American leaders from Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin gathered in Dearborn, Michigan, pledging to support the “Abandon Biden, ceasefire now” call. Dearborn has the largest concentration of Arab Americans of any city in the United States.
A tipping point may have been reached on Dec. 29 when Biden announced a new $147.5 million sale of artillery munitions to Israel. On Dec. 30, Muslim leaders of the campaign announced plans to expand their #AbandonBiden efforts in all 50 states over Biden’s failure to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Having failed to keep promises regarding a pathway to citizenship, Biden may also be losing ground among Latine voters. Biden is now discussing dramatic changes to asylum law and border enforcement almost indistinguishable from Trump’s policies.
Biden’s chances of gaining support from young voters, also needed for him to win, grow doubtful, with Biden failing to keep promises regarding climate change and forgiveness of student loan debt. Significantly, youth represent the core of the movement against Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
However, this growing loss of potential support for Biden does not translate into more votes for Donald Trump. When Muslim organizers announced #AbandonBiden, they made it clear they had no plans to switch support to Trump, but would explore alternative candidates. Jaylani Hussein, executive director of Minnesota’s Council on American-Islamic Relations chapter stated: “We don’t have two options. We have many options.” (Al Jazeera, Dec. 2, 2023)