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Opinion | Could Biden’s Handling of Gaza Impact his Re-election?

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The recent conflict in Gaza has sparked a wave of political activism and debate across the United States, and it is now raising questions about the potential impact on President Joe Biden’s re-election prospects. The situation has divided Democrats, with some expressing disillusionment with Biden’s handling of the crisis and others urging unity in support of the president.

One figure who has emerged in this debate is Michigan Senator Carl Levin. Known for his deep roots in Michigan and his defense of Palestinian rights, Levin was seen by some on the left as a potential challenger to Biden in the upcoming presidential election. However, Levin has made it clear that he is firmly behind Biden, citing the urgent need to prevent a Trump presidency.

Levin has launched the “Listen to Michigan” campaign, urging Democrats to express their concerns about the situation in Gaza while also emphasizing the importance of supporting Biden in the upcoming election. The campaign aims to channel activist energy into practical political objectives that align with the party’s goals.

However, not all Democrats are on board with this approach. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has warned that protest votes in the state’s primary could weaken Biden’s chances in November, potentially paving the way for a Trump victory. This sentiment highlights the tension within the party between expressing dissent and rallying behind the president.

Recent polling in Michigan has shown significant support for a cease-fire in Gaza, with a majority of voters and Democrats favoring diplomatic efforts to end the conflict. Despite this, the same polls indicate a close race between Biden and Trump in the state, underscoring the potential impact of the Gaza crisis on the upcoming election.

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As the debate continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how the situation in Gaza will shape the political landscape leading up to the 2024 election. Democrats in Michigan and beyond are grappling with competing priorities – expressing concern over the crisis in Gaza while also prioritizing the goal of defeating Trump in the upcoming election. The outcome of this internal debate could have far-reaching implications for Biden’s re-election prospects.

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Chats and reflections on the present moment.

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Lydia Polgreen

Credit…Will Heath/NBC, via Getty Images

It is a rare thing in our rapidly secularizing country to be confronted with piety and devotion in popular culture. So it was a surprise, and a balm, to watch a man who prays daily and talks openly about his devout faith storm a bastion of earthly godlessness: “Saturday Night Live.”

I am referring, of course, to the comedian Ramy Youssef, who hosted the show on what he described in his opening monologue as “an incredibly spiritual weekend,” noting Ramadan, Easter and the arrival of a new Beyoncé album.

“I’m doing the Ramadan one,” he quipped, to peals of laughter, unspooling a very funny bit about how loving Muslims are. Youssef has mined his experience as a believer among the profane in gentle standup specials and a namesake sitcom. His entire monologue glowed with a welcoming warmth — Muslims, he seemed to say: We’re just like you.

In a country that is supposedly obsessed with diversity and inclusion, it is remarkable how rare it is to hear from a practicing Muslim in America.

Surveys by the Institute for Policy and Understanding, a nonpartisan research organization focused on Muslim Americans, have consistently found that Muslims are the most likely group to report religious discrimination in the United States. According to a Pew survey conducted in 2021, 78 percent of Americans said that there was either a lot or some discrimination against Muslims in our society. Muslims are no more likely to commit crimes than members of any other group, but crimes in which Muslims are suspects get outsized media coverage, research has shown.

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It is no surprise, then, that Islamophobia is perhaps the most tolerated form of religious prejudice. Right now, Senate Republicans appear to have persuaded several Senate Democrats to vote against a Muslim judicial nominee after smearing him, with no evidence at all, as an antisemite.

Many of the skits that toyed with religion on “S.N.L.” on Saturday were funny — Ozempic for Ramadan! Genius. But part of me winced through them as well, because I saw in Youssef something that other members of minority groups have had to do to “earn” their place in the safety of the mainstream: the performance of normalcy, of being nonthreatening and sweet, the requirement to prove that your community belongs in America just like everyone else’s.

I loved Youssef’s monologue, in which he bravely pleaded, “Please, free the people of Palestine. And please, free the hostages. All of the hostages.”

“I am out of ideas,” Youssef declared toward the end of his monologue. “All I have is prayers.”

To which this nonbeliever can only say: Same, Ramy. Same.

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