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Lifelong Democrat Disenchanted by Biden’s Response to Gaza

Lifelong Democrat Disenchanted by Biden’s Response to Gaza

On October 26, 2023, a torn Palestinian flag flapped in the breeze in the West Bank village of Khallet al-Daba, a poignant symbol of the region’s strife and a personal turning point in my political identity.

I returned from Palestine transformed, with a resolve to challenge the party I once embraced. The failure of President Biden and Democratic leaders to address what I view as a genocide unfolding in Gaza has compelled me to sever ties with the Democratic Party.

My political journey began in the college town of New Hampshire, a hotspot for American political primaries. From a young age, I was steeped in Democratic values; I was even kissed by Bill Clinton at a rally as a baby. My teenage years were dedicated to political activism, leading my high school’s Democratic Club and canvassing for notable Democrats like State Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan. My formative experiences included meeting then-Senator Barack Obama, whose words I proudly quoted in my yearbook.

After moving to Washington, D.C., my life was a whirlwind of political engagement and aspirations. The thrill of dating someone who was mentioned on a liberal political podcast and attending “Run for Something” webinars post-2016 election marked my deep commitment to the Democratic cause. I envisioned a future of driving change alongside the very political figures I idolized.

However, the stark realities witnessed during my recent visit to Palestine have irrevocably altered my perspective. The harrowing scenes of civilian suffering in Gaza and the Democratic Party’s perceived inaction have disillusioned me deeply. The sight of children’s lifeless bodies in Gaza’s hospitals and stories of widespread devastation have left an indelible mark on my conscience.

This disaffection is echoed by a broader demographic of young voters, as indicated by a December New York Times/Siena College poll, which revealed that 72 percent of voters aged 18-29 disapproved of Biden’s handling of the conflict. Furthermore, the significant number of “uncommitted” votes in the Michigan primary and the inundation of Biden’s TikTok debut with pro-Palestinian comments signal a growing discontent among the electorate.

My recent travels with a Presbyterian Church solidarity delegation exposed me to the dire conditions faced by Palestinians—confrontations that solidified my resolve. Witnessing the plight of a Bethlehem farmer as his land was seized and the despair in Silwan and Nablus has been heart-wrenching.

The symbolic removal of the Shepard Fairey “Hope” poster from my office in mid-October signified my final break from a party I feel has betrayed its principles. My commitment is now clear: unless the Democratic Party unequivocally advocates for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and a definitive end to the occupation of Palestine, I cannot support Biden or any Democratic leader—perhaps indefinitely.

Emma West Rasmus, a member of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), voices a profound challenge to her former political allegiance.


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