An urgent plea to leftists in the 6 battleground states likely to decide the election

n 2024, leftist voters — particularly those in the six battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — have a lot more influence and power than they may realize.

Influence and power are things the left has typically not had a lot of in a country as conservative as the United States. But thanks to the Electoral College, leftists have perhaps the final say this November over whether democracy can hold on for at least another four years, or if fascism will take root and infect all facets of the federal government for decades to come.

As leftists, we’re used to being a minority in American political discourse. When both major parties argue about whether to take healthcare away from poor people entirely or to expand access to a heavily commodified version of it, we’re the only ones saying it should be free. When the two parties are bickering over how much police budgets should be expanded, we’re the only ones saying they should be significantly reduced.

And more recently, when Congressional Democrats and Republicans were trying to out-hawk each other on immigration and border security, it seemed like the left was the only political group urging Congress to remember the words on the Statue of Liberty that invites “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” to find sanctuary in the United States.

The left is admittedly a long way from achieving the utopian ideal most of us envision when asked about how we would run the country. Regardless of which side wins in November, the climate crisis will continue to intensify, the military-industrial complex will eat up a disproportionate amount of the federal budget, insurance titans will continue to serve as gatekeepers between life-saving healthcare and the people who need it, and corporate money will overwhelm the political system. These will unfortunately continue to be battles that many of us will have to fight for the rest of our lives. 

But it’s important to state that the 2024 election is not about policy — it’s about something much more basic. The one overarching question voters will answer in the voting booth this November is whether we want to continue having a country in which it’s possible to keep fighting and making steady progress in the aforementioned battles, or if we will surrender entirely to the far-right’s goal of implementing a Christofascist dictatorship.

Addressing the elephant in the room: Gaza

The Biden administration’s steadfast support of the Netanyahu regime even as it continues to massacre Palestinian civilians at an alarming rate is understandably the primary objection among leftists when Democrats ask for their vote. Michigan’s Muslim community — which makes up a significant bloc of Democratic-leaning voters in the Mitten State, particularly in Dearborn — has made it clear to Biden’s envoys that it will not cast ballots for a president who is green-lighting the bombing of their friends and family in Gaza.

In March, over 101,000 Michiganders voted “uncommitted” in the state’s Democratic presidential primary explicitly to protest Biden’s handling of the genocide in Gaza. Trump, who said in March that Israel should “finish the problem” in Gaza and that he is “firmly in Israel’s camp,” has not had to contend with a rift in his own party in regard to the war.

Israel’s ongoing slaughter of the Palestinian people in Gaza almost certainly meets the definition of genocide as described in the United Nations’ Genocide Convention. The UN describes genocide as “a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part.” More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since the IDF began its campaign in Gaza in retaliation for Hamas’ terror attack on October 7, 2023, which killed roughly 1,200 Israelis.

And even when using Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own estimate of civilian deaths, anywhere from 13,000 to 19,000 of those killed have been innocent civilians (the actual number may be considerably higher). Even those who have been merely maimed have suffered indescribably: In December, UNICEF reported that at least 1,000 children in Gaza had to undergo amputations without anesthetic. 

Even if “genocide” seems too harsh a word, it’s not false to say Netanyahu is carrying out ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Under Encyclopedia Brittanica’s definition, ethnic cleansing is “the attempt to create ethnically homogeneous geographic areas through the deportation or forcible displacement of persons belonging to particular ethnic groups.”

And since October, the Israeli military has steadily forced more than half of Gaza’s population to Rafah, which is on the other side of the Egyptian border. Rafah is now home to more than two million Palestinian refugees huddled in tents and desperate for food, and yet the Netanyahu regime has been bombing Rafah for more than a month. Meanwhile, far-right Israelis are aiming to build beachfront settlements in Gaza, with the BBC reporting in March that there are already hundreds of people clamoring to build on Gaza’s coast.

As horrific as the tragedy in Gaza is, it’s important to remember that it would still be happening regardless of which party occupies the White House. Whether the president of the United States is Joe Biden, Donald Trump, or even Bernie Sanders, Israel is still a sovereign country with its own elected government on an entirely different continent. While Israel does somewhat rely on US support, only 15% of its military budget comes from the US. It could be argued that even if the US cut off Netanyahu tomorrow, the Israeli offensive in Gaza would sadly continue unabated. 

In fact, according to a Wall Street Journal report from January, the Biden administration is attempting to delicately thread the needle for its multi-pronged peace proposal in the Middle East. That plan involves getting buy-in from Arab nations including Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia to pitch in to help rebuild a post-war Gaza.

Biden’s State Department is planning on official recognition of an independent Palestinian state for residents of Gaza and the West Bank. Biden also aims to overhaul the Palestinian Authority so that Palestinians have credible political leaders outside of the corrupt Abbas regime in the West Bank and the radical Islamic terrorists that make up Hamas. 

The biggest obstacle to peace in the region has been Netanyahu, with the Journal reporting that Biden’s calls with him have become “terse” as the Israeli leader continues to buck attempts to de-escalate the war and allow for humanitarian aid workers to help Palestinians without being attacked. Just this week, five workers with celebrity chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli airstrike

Aside from Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s behind-the-scenes deal making with Middle Eastern governments, there isn’t much difference between Biden and Trump on Gaza. And in an economic sense, the forces of capital — which play a much more dominant role in geopolitical affairs than individual nation-states — will demand that a country friendly with the West be at the intersection of the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to protect a crucial shipping channel.

While both Biden and Trump are throwing their lot in with Israel in the interest of global commerce, it’s important to acknowledge the many, many ways in which the two are different and to vote accordingly this November.

Trump isn’t even attempting to hide his fascist agenda anymore

While leftists love to disagree with other leftists, one rare thing that brings all leftists together is our abhorrence for fascism. And as anti-fascists, we all have a duty to carry out anti-fascist action when the threat arises. This can involve confronting racists in the streets when they march, online in the form of outing white supremacists to their employers, or in the voting booth, when we cast our ballots to stop fascists seeking to wield government against the marginalized groups they target. 

The word “fascist” tends to get thrown around a lot by both sides, but when looking at the Merriam-Webster definition of fascism — “a political philosophy, movement, or regime… that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition” — Trump’s 2024 campaign embodies every aspect of it.

As has previously explored, a host of more than 100 conservative groups are backing a plan dubbed “Project 2025” that is already pre-vetting tens of thousands of potential new government employees to serve under the next Republican administration. Whether the next Republican president is Donald Trump or someone else, Project 2025 has written and published a playbook aimed at rapidly consolidating executive power and restructuring the entire federal government to give the president unprecedented power to wield the full might of every agency to accomplish far-right political goals and punish the right’s enemies.

Under an executive order entitled “Schedule F,” (which Trump issued toward the end of his presidency and Biden promptly repealed) numerous existing employment protections for federal workers would be erased. As a result, the number of political appointees that serve at the pleasure of the president would go from roughly 5,000 to more than 54,000, with those appointees strategically placed in policy-making positions within federal agencies. Project 2025 is vetting potential appointees not by experience or knowledge, but by their loyalty to Trump and the MAGA movement.

In addition to dramatically increasing the power of the executive branch, Project 2025 also aims to undermine the Constitution by repealing the 22nd Amendment, which established presidential term limits. Writer Peter Tonguette of the American Conservative — one of the 100 groups involved in Project 2025 — recently published an article in favor of abolishing the 22nd Amendment. Whoever the next Republican president is, Project 2025’s architects made it clear that they intend for that person to be president for life, using the federal government as their personal army to deploy as they see fit.

Another hallmark of fascism is the singling out of a marginalized group for state-sponsored oppression. Trump has said multiple times that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country.” He specifically referenced non-white immigrants “from Africa, from Asia, all over the world.” He is openly running on a plan to round up millions of immigrants and incarcerate them in sprawling detention camps. 

When his top immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, was asked about how many immigrants would be included in Trump’s proposed mass deportations, Miller put the number at 10 million. He also said another potential target would be “people who were let in on visas but whose views, attitudes, and beliefs make them ineligible to stay in the country.” If Trump constructs massive concentration camps for immigrants, Miller’s comment suggests that anyone deemed undesirable by the state could eventually be targeted for detention and removal.

And as Merriam-Webster noted in its definition, fascism is also the state-sanctioned repression of political dissidents. During his first 2024 campaign rally in Waco, Texas, Trump declared “I am your retribution” to a crowd of supporters. At the 2024 Conservative Political Action Conference, he announced that his reelection would be “judgment day” for his political enemies. And while the former president has said his Department of Justice would prosecute Biden and his family, some of that retribution may be doled out by his supporters in the streets with his tacit endorsement. 

Trump has honored those jailed for their role in the January 6, 2021 siege of the US Capitol on multiple occasions and referred to them as “hostages,” even once allowing the “January 6 prison choir” to sing a revised version of the national anthem at one of his rallies. He has pledged to pardon the people who attacked US Capitol police and threatened to hang then-Vice President Mike Pence at a gallows they built outside. Trump having an army of foot soldiers eager to be agents of his retribution against political enemies is a textbook element of fascism, dating back to Hitler’s brownshirts and SS, and Mussolini’s blackshirts

Should Trump win the 2024 election, he has said he would be a dictator “but only on day one” (dictators throughout history have never voluntarily given up their power). It’s very unlikely he or a vice president who would succeed the septuagenarian should he die in office would ever relinquish such immense power. And even if lower courts were to try and overturn any of his actions or policies, his hand-picked conservative majority on the Supreme Court would almost certainly overrule them. 

A Trump victory in November is game over for democratic society as we know it. And given his success in delaying and postponing his multiple criminal trials, sitting idly by and hoping the judicial system would hold Trump accountable before Election Day appears to be a risky bet. If Americans are to stop an outright fascist from becoming the most powerful person in the world, it will be up to all of us to stop him with our collective power in the voting booth.

Your vote matters far more than you think

In a country of 330 million people, it’s easy to think that your one vote is insignificant in deciding a nationwide election. But for residents of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, your vote is absolutely capable of tipping the scale in any direction. The 2016 and 2020 elections are great examples of how just a few hundred votes in a few hundred towns across a state can swing electoral votes one way or another.

In 2016, for example, Donald Trump captured the Electoral College majority by winning Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin by just 77,744 combined votes. Likewise, in 2020, Joe Biden won Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin by a total of 42,918 combined votes. In 2016, Green Party nominee Jill Stein got more votes in the three states that gave Trump the Electoral College majority than Trump’s margin of victory over Hillary Clinton. And in 2020, Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen got more votes in Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin than Biden’s margin of victory over Trump. 

It could be argued that if libertarians — who have more in common with Republicans than Democrats — held their nose and voted for Trump, then he may have won a second term in 2020. Likewise, it could be argued that if the leftists who make up the Green Party’s base held their noses and voted for Clinton instead in 2016, then Donald Trump would have never been president and appointed the three Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade.

It’s not a stretch to say leftists who voted for Jill Stein in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in 2016 share part of the blame for the elimination of abortion rights in America. And I say this as someone who worked for Jill Stein’s 2012 campaign.

When breaking down the math, it’s easy to see how every single vote matters in battleground states. If just 100 leftists in each county in Georgia, which has 159 counties, stayed home in 2024, that’s a deficit of 15,900 potential Democratic votes. And in 2020, that would have swung the election.

If just 300 likely Democratic voters stay home in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, that’s a 21,600 vote deficit. That also would have swung the 2020 election, as Biden won the Badger State by less than 21,000 total votes. And in the last election, Biden won 213,625 votes in Maricopa County, Arizona. If just 5.1% of Democratic voters in that one county had decided to stay home instead, Trump would have carried the state. 

While leftists in the six most hotly contested battleground states have outsized influence, residents of many other states still have huge collective power. This is due to multiple states’ participation in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), with participants pledging to direct their states’ electoral votes to whomever wins the national popular vote, regardless of which candidate won their respective state.

Minnesota became the latest state to join the NPVIC last year, with the compact now accounting for 205 electoral votes. Even though I live in deep-red Kentucky, whose electoral votes Biden will definitely not win in 2024, my ballot would still count toward the overall popular vote. And if the day comes when the NPVIC has enough states to total 270 electoral votes, then even Kentuckians can indeed make the difference in electing a Democratic presidential candidate.

As a leftist, it’s understandable to have moral objections to voting for someone who we feel is not doing enough to stop the killing of innocent people in the Middle East. But it’s important to understand what the role of a vote is in an election. A vote for a candidate is rarely a glowing endorsement of that politician and their policies.

Rather, it is a strategic tool to be used as a way of inching our own objectives forward a little more — just as we do with protests, marches, petitions, legislative committee testimonies, phone banking, and canvassing. If we want to remain a country where we still have the ability to agitate for justice and equality, then it’s incumbent on us to vote with that in mind.


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