How the war on Gaza is shaping the 2024 elections — and the future of the Democratic Party

How the war on Gaza is shaping the 2024 elections — and the future of the Democratic Party

Samer Badawi writes:

In a public park just outside Cleveland, Ohio, a small plaque marks the last stop on the Underground Railroad, the secret network that helped tens of thousands of enslaved people flee to freedom in the decades leading up to America’s Civil War. Etched into a paved walkway that leads to the water, the marker at Lakewood Park is easy to miss, a fitting emblem of a region that is nothing if not understated. Yet it was here, along the shores of Lake Erie, that the former slaves of the American South boarded boats to Canada, leaving behind a young country that would soon be at war with itself.

To the emancipated and the railroad’s “conductors,” the Cleveland of the antebellum era was known by its codename: “Station Hope.” Today, the city is the second poorest in America, dismissed by some as “the mistake by the lake.” On its periphery, though, the hollowed-out steel mills that symbolize the Rust Belt also recall the industrial boom of the post-Civil War era, when the city’s easy lake access made it a transportation hub and center for social activism. Progressive Era politicians embraced urban planning designed to help the poor. Immigrant workers helped launch the labor movement.

Like other so-called “swing states” in the American Midwest, Ohio has also been a political bellwether. In the past 60 years, all but one of America’s presidential elections have gone to the candidate who won Ohio, giving rise to the adage “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.” The state skewed right in the past two elections, though, and it was little surprise when Republicans chose Cleveland to host their 2016 convention, at which Donald Trump formally accepted his party’s nomination. When the polls preceding that year’s election put Hillary Clinton comfortably in the lead, Ohio watchers — who had seen Trump pull 8 percentage points ahead of his Democratic rival there — knew the pollsters were wrong.

In this year’s election season, Midwestern states have become a different kind of proving ground — this time, for the Democratic Party. In cities and smaller towns in states like Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, a growing Palestinian rights movement is pushing Democratic candidates to challenge their party’s unchecked support for Israel. The movement’s successes, detailed in interviews with a range of organizers and elected officials for this article, are inspiring activists elsewhere in the country. And that, observers say, is reshaping the party’s foreign policy from the ground up, presaging unprecedented changes in Washington. [Continue reading…]

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