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Young Democrats Warn Biden to Stand With Gaza – Or Else

Young voters seem fed up with Biden for now, but will it matter come November?

Young Democratic voters have a warning for President Joe Biden: Change course on the issues that matter to them – like Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza – or say goodbye to re-election in November. Recent polling shows young voters have been souring on Biden for a while, but the president’s comments Thursday, May 2, condemning violence at the protests happening on college campuses across the nation were a tipping point for many. Will these young voters really abandon him come November – and will it be enough to cost him a second term?

Biden Asks for Peace, Gets Another War Instead

While he spoke up in defense of peaceful protest in his Thursday speech from the Roosevelt Room in the White House, President Biden also criticized protesters for the violence and anti-Semitism on display at so many campus demonstrations. He specifically condemned trespassing, vandalism, and personal violence – and that’s simply unacceptable for some.

“Destroying property is not a peaceful protest; it’s against the law,” Biden said on Thursday. “Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancellation of classes and graduation, none of this is a peaceful protest. Threatening people, intimidating people … Dissent is essential to democracy, but dissent must never lead to disorder.”

Elise Joshi, the executive director of Gen-Z for Change, a “collective of Gen-Z activists that leverage the power of social media to drive progressive change,” called Biden’s remarks “shameful” and issued a warning to the president:

“To paint us as violent when police are the ones tear-gassing, shooting, and beating students, especially knowing he was elected in large part due to Black Lives Matter, is utterly shameful,” Joshi said. “He will lose the election if he decides to roll the dice and assume that Gaza isn’t at the top of minds right now.”

Kidus Girma, campaign director at the Sunrise Movement, a political action organization dedicated to fighting climate change, said it’s “in the interest of the president to run on a progressive mandate” to show young voters he’s on their side. “I don’t think the president is currently meeting young voters enough. We are paying attention,” Girma said. “It’s critical that President Biden recognize the voices of young people calling for peace in Gaza. The Americans are calling for the end of unconditional military aid and a permanent cease-fire.” Girma advises that the quickest way to end unrest on the nation’s college campuses is to “listen to the majority of Americans and young students fighting for what is right.”

None of these words of warning or advice acknowledge that the president has also spoken out against anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim hate or that many of the protesters have, in fact, been threatening Jewish students, damaging property, and preventing others from attending school peacefully. Instead, they latch on to the president’s call for peace and order and criticism of anti-Semitism and present it as pro-Israel, anti-Palestine sentiment.

Survey Says: Young Voters Are Bailing on Biden Anyway

Biden’s waffling between support of Israel and calls for a cease-fire aside, it turns out this particular demographic is hard to satisfy anyway. While young voters showed up for Biden in 2020, they have been souring on him ever since.

Matt Duss, executive vice president of the Center for International Policy, called the Biden administration “the most progressive administration of my lifetime,” citing initiatives like the student loan forgiveness program as evidence of Biden’s catering to young voters. And polls going back as far as 2021 have shown that young voters were abandoning Biden before the Israel-Hamas war or the protests at American colleges.

The reality of the situation may well be that the president won’t please Gen-Z and Millennial Democrats no matter what he does. But while Biden’s actions may not make much of a difference in whether this demographic currently supports him, that, in turn, might not make much of a difference in the election. Some of these disenchanted youths will either vote third party or leave the ballot blank. Many, however, are expected to “come home to Biden” during the election, as Duss put it. And on top of that, fewer young people vote than any other age group anyway.

According to the Census Bureau, 57% of eligible voters aged 18-34 voted in 2020, up from just 49% in 2016. But the 35-64 age group saw 69% turnout in 2020 and 65% in 2016. And turnout was 74% in 2020 and 71% in 2016 for voters 65 and older. And about half of all voters – 48% in 2020 and 50% in 2016 – fall in the 35-64 range. Just 29% of voters in 2020 and 24% in 2016 were in the “youth” range of 18-34, with even fewer, of course, falling in the narrower college age range of late teens through early 20s.

This doesn’t mean that the increase in young voters didn’t help put Biden over the line in 2020 – or that their newfound apathy couldn’t cost him a win now. But knowing that young voters make up the smallest portion of the American electorate and that they have the lowest turnout of any other age group may be some small comfort to Biden and his supporters since it seems he can’t please them anyway.

Read More From James Fite

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