In 2020, I ran to be a Florida delegate to the Democratic National Committee after helping co-found the Miami-Dade Democratic Progressive Caucus in early 2017. I had just wrapped up a stint in the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, and in spite of the tension created by the primary, volunteers and former staffers decided to continue to engage with the structures of the Democratic Party in order to democratize the party and push it in a more progressive direction.
My fellow progressive delegates and I were able to reform party rules in Florida, including ending something called the “weighted vote”: two positions from each Florida county had been able to vote in elections with a vote share proportional to the number of Democrats in that county, allowing a small number of operatives and consultants to have outsized control of the party. We were finally able to change that and move to a one-person, one-vote system.
Three years later, that project has become untenable for me. I can no longer morally engage with that kind of tinkering in the service of reform. I am submitting my resignation in large part because of the Biden administration’s inexcusable support of Israeli war crimes and the mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza — and the DNC’s role in protecting President Joe Biden from a democratic process that could check that complicity.
More than 23,000 people have been killed in retaliation against Hamas’s attack on October 7, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. An estimated 57,000 have been injured, and thousands more are missing and presumed dead. At least 9,600 of those killed are children. The Biden administration gives occasional lip service to the need for limiting civilian casualties while continuing to greenlight billions in military support for Israel’s actions in Gaza. (I’ve been outspoken in my criticism of this assault and on Tuesday was caught up in the Twitter purge of critics of Israel. My account has since been restored.)
As this mass killing continues unabated and the Biden administration circumvents congressional authority to greenlight more weapons sales to Israel, and the Democratic Party is actively kicking off his primary opponents from the ballot in several states, I’ve decided the proper thing to do is submit my resignation. I will not be part of a structure of power that seems committed to support war crimes and undermine voters’ choices.
The destruction in Gaza is so widespread that it already qualifies as one of this century’s most destructive wars, according to the Washington Post. The bombardment has flattened buildings and civilian infrastructure and has included attacks against hospitals that are supposed to be off-limits under laws governing warfare but are nevertheless targeted by Israeli forces claiming that they serve as Hamas operation centers. These claims have been proven to be unsubstantiated, as was the case of Al-Shifa Hospital, which was raided last month. A subsequent investigation also conducted by the Washington Post found that evidence did not support Israeli claims that the hospital was a Hamas command center.
The scale of the destruction is difficult to comprehend. The United Nations says that more than 90 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced and that severe water shortages are creating a deadly risk for children, with the looming threat of large-scale disease outbreaks. Unlawful weapons like incendiary white phosphorus have been used indiscriminately against civilians, according to Amnesty International, which constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law.
One of the things I found most concerning is that Biden is willing to trade human rights for more war funding — telling Republicans in ongoing talks over funding for Ukraine and Israel that the White House is willing to gut asylum protections and aid in mass deportations in exchange for those funds.
Biden and Democrats are looking to resurrect, and in many cases expand, the worst policies of the Trump administration. Immigrant families who have been here for years, even decades, could be rounded up and deported — calling this “expedited removal” rather than mass deportation. Also on the table is a beefed-up version of Title 42, the Trump-era emergency authority enacted under the pretense of pandemic-related health concerns that speed deportations at the southern border. The “Safe Third Country” restrictions being proposed by Democrats are Trump’s asylum ban creeping up under some centrist think-tank rebranding.
These extreme, permanent changes to the immigration system will severely harm immigrants in our country and completely demolish what little credibility this administration has when claiming to be a bulwark against Trump-era policies. To do so in service of sending more money to a country committing war crimes is completely indefensible.
I was an undocumented person. I came here with my parents on tourist visas from Argentina and overstayed them hoping for a better life. I’ve dedicated a good portion of my life to help other immigrants navigate an unforgiving and broken process meant to keep them in the shadows while they labor away with no prospects for a proper retirement or social benefits. I can’t rationalize an effort to fund wars that create more destabilization and refugees while also destroying the asylum system that would provide some relief to those refugees.
Modern asylum laws were created after the horrors of the Holocaust were revealed to the public with the defeat of Hitler’s Nazi regime and the liberation of concentration camps by Allied forces. They stemmed from the deep shame felt after World War II, knowing more could have been done to help desperate people fleeing desperate conditions.
Throughout most of the war, the United States had a poor track record offering asylum. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s government turned away thousands of Jewish refugees, fearing that they were Nazi spies and also motivated by ever-present antisemitism. In one of the most horrific instances of our country turning its back on desperate people, the German ocean liner St. Louis and its 937 mostly Jewish passengers were turned away from the port of Miami, forcing the ship to return to Europe where more than a quarter died in the Holocaust.
The context is different, but the same is true today. The Biden administration threatens to turn back progress by negotiating with bad-faith actors and betraying their core supporters, all while throwing truly vulnerable people under the bus.
Sending military funding to Israel as it engages in the mass killing of Palestinians is increasingly unpopular in the United States. Polling released on December 5 from Data for Progress shows over 70 percent of Democrats support a ceasefire in Gaza. Hell, 61 percent of all voters support the call for a ceasefire. Instead of listening to public pressure and the polls, the administration is moving in the opposite direction of a ceasefire and is instead planning for a wider war.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The U.S. has historically thrown Palestinians under the bus, but past presidents have at times stepped in to curtail violence. Ronald Reagan, who I am not a fan of, famously called Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin during the 1982 Lebanon War and told him that the symbol of that war was becoming a “picture of a 7-month-old baby with its arms blown off.” When Reagan, infamous for supporting Central American death squads, is more critical of Israeli war crimes than Biden, we are in serious trouble.
For those of you who, like me, find the actions of the current administration unacceptable and would support an alternative candidate in the 2024 Democratic primary, your options are being limited. The Florida Democratic Party has joined several other states in barring any other candidate aside from Biden from appearing in this year’s primary ballot despite challengers like Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., and author Marianne Williamson polling between 5 and 10 percent each. Democrats should be given the option to vote for whichever candidate they want to support.
My time trying to navigate the hypocrisy and groupthink of party politics has come to an end. My only hope is that people continue speaking out, challenging the current status quo, and pressuring this administration and politicians in both parties to stop this senseless and intolerable bloodshed before more people die and this spirals into a broader and more destructive conflict.