“We are organizing our neighbors across the state to tell Joe Biden: permanent cease-fire now!”

By Olivia Rosane, Common Dreams

On the eve of Super Tuesday, Minnesota Democratic primary voters are looking to replicate Michigan’s success with their own “uncommitted” campaign to protest President Joe Biden’s support for Israel’s unrelenting assault on the people of Gaza.

minnesota uncommitted ballot by dmkasprzak
Photo credit: X user @dmkasprzak

The uncommitted vote in Michigan earned more than 100,000 votes—well beyond the campaign’s 10,000-vote goal—and secured at least two delegates for the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August.

While Minnesota is not a swing state, and therefore may not have the same leverage over the Biden campaign as Michigan, organizers hope they can still send a message and inspire voters in other states.

“We’re hoping that what we do here will just continue to push the wave of uncommitted across the United States,” Amanda Purcell of MN Families for Palestine told The Guardian.

“Voting uncommitted is a chance for Minnesotans to ask the president we fought for to change course, and recommit to all of us.”

Progressive voters hope to use the uncommitted campaigns to persuade Biden to back a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, something that 68% of U.S. voters support, including 80% of Democrats. The campaigns seek to persuade the Biden administration that funding and arming an assault that the International Court of Justice has ruled a plausible genocide is not only immoral, but also a political liability as Biden prepares to face off against former President Donald Trump in November.

“We are organizing our neighbors across the state to tell Joe Biden: permanent cease-fire now!” reads the Vote Uncommitted MN website. “With his approval ratings bottoming-out and a tight race for re-election, we know he is paying close attention to what happens at the ballot box.”

Minnesota is not the only state to pick up the uncommitted call. It is, however, the Super Tuesday state with the most prominent campaign to date. Other Super Tuesday primaries that have an uncommitted or equivalent line are Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Tennessee, and American Samoa.

The Colorado Palestine Coalition along with local chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), launched a “Vote Noncommitted Colorado” campaign last Wednesday, though more than 762,000 people have already returned their ballots by mail.

“We figured if there’s a way to make some waves and let our discontent be known, we might as well,” organizer Grace Thorvilson told Axios Denver.

However, organizers in Minnesota say an uncommitted campaign is primed to make an impact in the state because of its history of progressive, democratic engagement and its large Muslim and immigrant population.

“We vote in Minnesota. Number one in the country for turnout,” Abandon Biden campaign in Minnesota co-chair Jaylani Hussein told The Guardian. “And when it comes to minorities and immigrants, we also have historically high, record turnout.”

Campaigners have scrambled to get the word out in the wake of Michigan’s success.

“Y’all Michigan had three weeks. Minnesota now has four and a half days,” organizer Asma Mohammed said on a conference call last week reported by Minnesota Public Radio.

The campaign has received backing from local politicians, including St. Paul City Council President Mitra Jalali and Minneapolis City Council President Aisha Chughtai.

“When you elect leaders, you commit to navigating difficult decisions with them while holding them accountable and standing up for your communities,” the pair wrote in an op-ed Monday in Sajan Journal. “Our communities deserve better than the idea that ‘anyone is better than Trump’—we deserve real leadership that invites accountability. Voting uncommitted is a chance for Minnesotans to ask the president we fought for to change course, and recommit to all of us.”

Some members of the coalition, such as the Abandon Biden movement, want to ensure that Biden does not win the general election in order to impose consequences for his position on Gaza. Others, however, see the primaries as a chance to pressure Biden to reverse course before the general in order to strengthen his position against Trump.

“I’m hoping that President Biden listens, because I don’t want to have to organize my community out of becoming Republicans or just sitting at home,” Mohammed said. “And it’s not just my community.”

Abou Amara, who has previously worked on campaigns for the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party—the state’s Democratic Party affiliate—said that the primary was exactly the right time to put intra-party pressure on candidates.

“The Democratic primaries and the Republican primaries are the moment to exercise political power and to have your voice heard,” Amara told Minnesota Now. “And you’re seeing the Biden administration continue to respond, to say I have to listen to various aspects of my coalition.”

On Sunday, for example, Vice President Kamala Harris gave a speech in Selma in which she called for an immediate cease-fire and said Israel was not doing enough to stop a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza. While Harris only backed a temporary, six-week cease-fire to facilitate a hostage exchange, her rhetoric reflects growing pressure on the party.

AJ+ media critic Sana Saeed said on social media that it was a “blatant attempt to put Harris as sober to Biden’s zeal in the wake of Michigan and polls showing his unpopularity.”

“They know they are in trouble,” she added, “so this is pure PR bait, and it seems some people are falling for it.”

Organizers of the Uncommitted MN campaign hope the pressure will keep up beyond Super Tuesday. Already the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 3000, the largest union in Washington State, has endorsed the uncommitted campaign in that state’s primary on March 12. Efforts are also underway in states including Wisconsin, Arizona, and Pennsylvania.

“This is a national movement,” Mohammed told The Guardian. “It doesn’t stop with Michigan. It doesn’t stop with Minnesota. All of us have to be all in to get the attention of the president.”