Uncommitted Makes Waves




On March 5th, “Super Tuesday”, Minnesotans showed up in the tens of thousands to Vote Uncommitted in the presidential primary elections. Through phone-banking, text-banking, flyering, and relational organizing, members of our local Twin Cities chapter and DSA national joined in the effort, which garnered 19% of the vote in the Democratic Party primary, nearly 46,000 total votes. All of this was to send a message to Biden’s administration: Stop the genocide in Gaza, now. In just over a week, the Vote Uncommitted Minnesota campaign reached thousands across the state, and put national attention on Minnesotans’ efforts to free Palestine. This is only one piece of that struggle, and the work doesn’t end here. In December, TCDSA created a Palestine Solidarity working group as a space to house our organizing for Palestinian liberation. In doing so, we stepped into a movement that spans generations, continents, and ideologies. While some of us are veterans of this struggle, many of us are newcomers, and try to approach this work with both humility and energy. The struggle for Palestinian liberation is one that should concern us all as socialists. If you were invigorated by the Vote Uncommitted MN campaign, read on to learn about our local organizing and the broader movement.

In the context of a global movement to free Palestine that has been surging for months and simultaneously facing media and state repression, the people of Michigan, led by Arab and Muslim activists, pushed their way into national headlines by turning out over 100,000 people to vote Uncommitted in their presidential primary. The massive protest vote couldn’t be ignored, even by the mainstream capitalist media. Metro Detroit DSA played a role, phone-banking and canvassing ahead of the vote. The campaign quickly shifted over to Minnesota and other Super Tuesday states. TCDSA Steering Committee voted to join the effort as a chapter on Monday February 26th, barely one week ahead of the primary. Our chapter co-chair Laura J was working behind the scenes to coordinate with national DSA: “there was a bit of a scramble when it came to getting the national DSA endorsement. This was partly due to the tight turnaround before the primary date as well as dealing with the current spending freeze…Luckily we were able to plug members into phonebanks set up by other orgs in the Uncommitted coalition. The NEC put through an expedited endorsement for us and even though it came through just a few days before the primary I think having national [DSA] boost our MN campaign…was a huge help”. TCDSA members joined the campaign in various ways – making phone calls to voters, text-banking TCDSA members, passing out flyers at events and caucuses, sending emails, and spreading the word to friends, family and coworkers. All of the Minnesota YDSA chapters expertly boosted the message on social media, getting 3500 interactions and 700 shares. Once the NEC endorsement came through, national DSA added its weight and audience to the campaign. One of our comrades Sam D summarized the effort: “Many of us are wondering the best ways to support Palestinian liberation. Voting uncommitted was a low-cost, low stakes way to use one of the big tools of democracy to send a message. I saw the campaign come together over 8 days. Earned media really allowed the campaign to punch well above its weight, spending only $20,000 to deliver 45,000 votes. It was possible because we pushed decisively at a sudden moment of opportunity”. At the end of the night on Tuesday, almost 20% of the votes were for Uncommitted, gaining 11 delegates from Minnesota who can “carry the voice of this movement directly to the core of the Democratic party” at the Democratic National Convention, as Sam D put it. The majority of the votes came from Hennepin and Ramsey counties (with 25% and 23% for Uncommitted, respectively), but 65% of all precincts across Minnesota had at least one Uncommitted vote. Wards in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth with active YDSA chapters had between 29%-62% votes for Uncommitted. It was a stunning, rapid success, and the campaign is continuing in other states like Washington and Wisconsin. But what does it mean for the movement? This protest vote carried a simple demand for a ceasefire in Gaza, and acted as a megaphone aimed directly at Biden. It threatens his re-election, and the goal is to make him worried enough to change course, stop supporting Israel, and call for a ceasefire.

This is only one facet of the local organizing for Palestinian liberation. Over the past few months, TCDSA has been steadily building up capacity for this work, aiming to organize for the long haul. In the fall, members coordinated to show up to the many protests, marches, and rallies put on by organizations in the newly formed Free Palestine Coalition. Members used their power as rank-and-file workers to help push forward ceasefire resolutions in their union locals. We created more structure in the Palestine Solidarity working group and supported our endorsed city council electeds who championed the ceasefire resolution that passed in Minneapolis in January. TCDSA then combined efforts with the Free Palestine Coalition to start pushing for a ceasefire resolution in St. Paul, which was facing significant pushback from councilmembers (aside from Nelsie Yang, one of TCDSA’s endorsed city council electeds). TCDSA members have been text-banking, phone-banking, meeting with councilmembers, and showing up to council meetings to help put pressure on St. Paul to pass a resolution. The Vote Uncommitted MN campaign sprung up in the middle of that effort. Only a day after the votes were tallied, St. Paul city council voted unanimously to pass a ceasefire resolution (albeit one with watered-down language). Meanwhile, TCDSA members showed up in force during the state DFL caucuses, introducing and passing a resolution that calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, an end to US aid and weapons for Israel, a return of all political prisoners and hostages, and an end to apartheid and genocide. Currently, the Twin Cities movement for Palestinian liberation is growing, and will continue to develop. So where does our organizing go from here? As the Palestine Solidarity working group slowly gains capacity, we are trying to grow our ties with the Free Palestine Coalition, and we are setting our sights on BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction), both locally and statewide. As of February, TCDSA has officially joined the Minnesota BDS Coalition, a longstanding coalition of local groups doing Palestine solidarity work. After all, a ceasefire is only the first step in the struggle for a free Palestine.

Coming off the heels of the Vote Uncommitted MN campaign, it’s important to emphasize that as socialists we know voting won’t save us from capitalism, colonialism, militarism, and all the rest. But we also understand it’s a lever of power we can effectively wield alongside a broader movement to gain concessions from the ruling class. To be clear, DSA has no formal relationship to the Democratic Party or the Minnesota DFL. Electoral organizing is one of many tactics we use to build power for the working class, and when it comes to Palestine, we need to employ every effective tactic we can. Why is Palestine so important to us as socialists? Because our liberation is inherently tied with Palestine’s. Since its inception in 1948, Israel has been imposing cruel oppressive systems onto Palestinians – military occupation and bombardment, apartheid laws, ethnic cleansing, institutionalized violence, forced displacement, political repression, resource extraction, environmental destruction, restriction of movement, and a current campaign of genocide. None of this could continue without the ongoing political, military, and financial backing of the United States. In order to truly liberate Palestine, we must necessarily liberate ourselves. We must dismantle settler-colonialism, and therefore learn and build solidarity with Indigenous sovereignty and decolonization movements here in the US. We must dismantle systems of apartheid, and therefore recognize and dismantle racial oppression and white supremacy here. We must dismantle the military-industrial-complex, and therefore challenge the US’s global hegemony and imperialism abroad and institutionalized violence through policing here, freeing up money to spend on caring for one another – like social housing, public schools, and universal healthcare. We must dismantle the colonial project that is Zionism, and therefore acknowledge and eliminate its presence and impact on US politics, which it accomplishes through lobbying, media suppression, censorship in cultural and educational institutions, and attacks on socialist electeds and progressive allies. We must make our voices heard to have an impact on Palestine, which means we must dismantle anti-democratic governance here, rebuilding a world where the working class has the power to decide “no, we don’t want war”. A world where it’s impossible for any ruling class to drop bombs, oppress, starve, or commit genocide. We must dismantle patriarchy, Zionism, islamophobia, antisemitism, climate destruction, extreme nationalism, capitalism. For a free Palestine, a ceasefire is just the start, a demand spurred on by the current wave of extreme violence and genocide that Israel is committing. Palestinians have long called for a BDS movement, modeled after the efforts to topple apartheid South Africa in the 80s and 90s (https://bdsmovement.net/call). A crucial part of being in solidarity with Palestinians is understanding the history and aspirations of the movement, and contributing our skills and efforts to the cause.

As members of TCDSA, we are part of a national organization which has pledged to be anti-Zionist. Perfection isn’t possible, but we must aim to continually learn and grow in order to truly stand in solidarity with global movements for liberation. The Vote Uncommitted MN campaign captured the attention of the nation, including the ruling class. We can and must build on that momentum, continue to push forward, and buckle up for the long haul. If you want to join us in this work, the Palestine Solidarity working group meets every other Thursday at 7pm. Find information and join the discussion on Slack via the #palestine-solidarity channel.

Solidarity forever.

Brooke B

Sources for county voting data: