Home News N.Y. Dems: Leave your ballot blank

N.Y. Dems: Leave your ballot blank

On Tuesday, Democratic voters in New York will have an opportunity to cast their votes in the presidential primary. Under any normal circumstance, the threat of another Donald Trump presidency would be enough to motivate Democratic voters to unite behind President Biden in the primary. But this is not a normal year.

The staggering death toll of the war in Gaza has stirred a moral crisis in our country. Every day we have to reckon with our nation’s own role in the killing of more than 30,000 Palestinians, and the starvation and displacement of more than a million people in Gaza, while grieving over a brutal Hamas attack that took the lives of more than 1,200 Israelis.

Jewish and Muslim communities have suffered unimaginable pain over the past five months, and many peace-seeking New Yorkers are grappling with the question of how to vote, or whether to vote at all, in the presidential primary.

The majority of voters disapprove of Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza, but know that a return of Trump would be catastrophic. When we talk to New Yorkers about the upcoming general election — especially younger voters and voters of color — they feel demoralized and are considering sitting out the elections altogether.

In an election year when our democracy is on the line, we must resist despair and hopelessness and instead lean into the opportunities that our democracy offers. Voters in New York can follow the example of hundreds of thousands of voters in states like Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, and Massachusetts who have used “uncommitted votes” as a tactic to pressure the president to correct course.

New York’s “Leave it Blank” campaign is another such effort to send a message to the Biden campaign that following the lead of a right-wing authoritarian in Benjamin Netanyahu won’t make Israelis and Palestinians safer, and it certainly won’t help Democrats defeat MAGA extremists in November. In fact, it’s a recipe for disaster.

In order to defeat Trump — and defeat him resoundingly — in November, Biden must be able to build a broad and diverse coalition capable of defeating the forces of right-wing authoritarianism. And the single greatest obstacle to building that coalition is the Biden administration’s unwillingness to use its full leverage to end the war in Gaza.

To borrow some wisdom from Working Families Party National Director Maurice Mitchell, the successful uncommitted campaigns around the country have been “a gift for Joe Biden.” That is, if the president is willing to heed their message. With seven months to go until the election, Biden has the opportunity to lay out a morally grounded vision for the country that restores voters’ faith in his leadership and unifies his coalition.

The New York Working Families Party was founded more than two decades ago to give working people the ability to vote their values without playing the role of spoiler. But without a WFP ballot line or an uncommitted option in the primary, “Leave it Blank” offers the clearest way to voice support for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the safe return of hostages, and emergency aid to those facing malnutrition and hunger.

Biden has already secured more than enough delegates to be nominated to run for a second term. And despite what some critics claim, casting a blank ballot in a presidential primary in no way helps Trump. With many people considering staying home, the “Leave it Blank” campaign is how we can motivate reluctant voters to take part in our democracy. As polling has shown us, voters are more likely to back candidates who support a ceasefire, and this is especially true with younger voters.

Trump has promised even more dangerous and reckless policies for his second term, including restoring his Muslim ban, handing tax breaks to the rich, rolling back climate protections, and passing a federal abortion ban. We’re clear: staying home for the general election is not an option.

In the lead up to November, we plan to do everything in our power to defeat the far-right, with our ballot line serving the dual purpose of both beating back MAGA extremism and pushing Democrats to deliver on an agenda that invests in working people, not in perpetual warfare.

Voting blank in the primary is a strategic appeal to Joe Biden to listen to the overwhelming majority of voters who recognize that collective punishment will not bring about lasting peace or safety.

Democrats can send that message with the most powerful tool at our disposal: our vote.

Archila and Gripper are the co-directors of the New York Working Families Party.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here