Ever since officially launching the Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) effort at our Annual General Meeting, Democrats Abroad Australia members have declared that enough is enough from the current Republican administration.
Democrats Abroad Australia is an organisation that is built on a network of supporting US Citizens who call Australia home. As we support each other socially, we build this community of Americans who live overseas and still believe in making a difference.
We mobilise because we know every vote matters in this election.
Democrats Abroad Australia volunteers across the country have been calling other members to ensure that we have all requested our ballot using the VoteFromAbroad absentee ballot request.
Volunteers from many State Chapters have jumped online to make calls, whether this be together at social meetups for a phonebank or from the comfort of one’s own home.
John Driggers, Democrats Abroad volunteer from South Australia says of the importance of phone banking:
"The last presidential election was decided by just thousands of votes. Seventeen congressional seats were decided by margins of 5% or less. Republican Darrell Issa in California was re-elected by a margin of .05%. Democrat Rick Nolan in Minnesota took his seat with a margin of .06%. I am convinced that the single most useful thing I can do for the 2018 elections is to help get out the expat vote.”
We have contacted hundreds of members and will contact everyone to be sure that everyone is set to receive their ballot for the midterm election!
The start of winter has welcomed the start of the new academic year and many students from the US have landed to study at academic institutions across Australia as part of their Study Abroad or Exchange.
We have been out to greet them, canvassed at numerous campuses with voter registration booths, provided hundreds of flyers and advice on how they can make sure that their vote counts.
A leader in our effort has been the incredible team of the NSW Chapter. Already a core team of volunteers have taken the initiative to stage voter registration awareness events at University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney, and University of New South Wales with some encouraging results and several future events planned.
Layne Mostyn, Democrats Abroad Queensland volunteer coordinator writes:
“We all know how critical this midterm election will be to the fate of our first country, and every vote counts! There are thousands of young US citizens studying in Australia - many of them first-time voters trying to navigate a confusing process - who care deeply about the issues we all face but may need support or a nudge in the right direction.”
We continue to reach out to University staff, student clubs, and campus communication channels, asking them to help us get the word out.
A staple of Democrats Abroad Australia is how we support each other. As we resist Trumpism, we resist the politics of division - and this means that we support one another through meetups and social events as part of our organisation.
Our State Chapters have regular meetings and meetups where members come together and discuss what is most important about being a US citizen abroad.
This of course includes at the moment our ambitious GOTV effort, movie watch parties, social hour at the pub, information on taxation abroad and much more.
“I have found that regularly scheduled meet ups are a great opportunity for members to be engaged. I think people generally want to feel connected and regular meet-ups are like
low hanging fruit. The NSW Chapter meet-ups see anywhere from 15-25 members showing up every month. We chat about GOTV efforts and have some friendly banter. Meet-ups are like the glue that holds the chapter together” states Democrats Abroad NSW Chapter Chair Marla Minow.
All members from all over Australia are welcome and encouraged to attend our meetings and any US citizen can join Democrats Abroad on the spot!
We know that there are nearly 100,000 US Citizens living Down Under and Democrats Abroad Australia is making a coordinated effort online to attempt to reach this audience!
Online and in social media, Democrats Abroad Australia is seeking to reach the nearly 100,000 US Citizens living Down Under.
Using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, we are sharing information about how any US citizen can use the VoteFromAbroad website to request their ballot.
Democrats Abroad Australia Social Media Coordinator Shanna Nurkin writes:
"Paid media allows us to message specific audiences (including US expats over 18) and ensure that we get in touch with the people online. We’ll always reach out using print, face-to-face and phonebanking but digital media allows us a cost-efficient solution to Get Out The Vote!”
Democrats Abroad Australia is committed to taking back the House and the Senate for the crucial midterm elections of 2018.
We will have no regrets in our efforts to Get Out The Vote.
There are numerous attacks on our democracy back home with voter suppression being rampant. Absentee ballots have won close elections in the past and every vote counts.
These efforts and more will continue until election day on 6th November 2018.
We welcome all members in Democrats Abroad Australia to be involved!
National Chair, Democrats Abroad Australia
Democrats Abroad Australia (Democratic Party Caucus Abroad, DPCA) is the official overseas wing of the Democratic Party for American citizens living outside the US and its territories.
It’s a question well worth asking.
Especially now, we must be bold enough to ask this in the face of the current administration.
Whether we have been in Australia for decades or just months, we look at the United States in disbelief at the depths to which the current administration continually takes our country.
It isn’t just one man, but a segment of our national character that has brought out the worst.
If we dare to contemplate it, this is indeed not just the actions of one individual. Not only does the current administration need to change, but does something much more within our culture.
When we contemplate this, we realise: we are not just resisting Trump, but resisting Trumpism.
When we resist Trumpism, something changes. The conversation, the dynamic, the focus the subject matter of what are we are truly up against. This forces us to have a look at the long ascendancy of attacks on equality and justice throughout the United States.
We wake up to the unfortunate fact that there is a history of division in our country, one which we continually strive to change.
Thus to truly resist Trump, we must focus on the factors which allow the politics of division to flourish.
We know that we are inclusive in our organisation, we firmly hold that no one should be disadvantaged in any way because of their sex, gender, race, ethnicity, religion. However, the problems facing America now cut across the definitions of identity politics.
So when we talk of the politics of division, we must also focus on the structural issues facing America.
This in fact evolves our definition of what it means to be political. Politics is everywhere, touches every aspect of our lives, every action is a political one. This is not to reduce life’s complexity to the level of partisanship, no, absolutely not.
This means that we need a sense of community and belonging that have not been part of our narrative. We need to inject this awareness and practice into the political sphere.
We need a new political discourse that does not divide on the level of identity politics and does not cower behind ideology.
What is needed is a real empathetic space where political issues can be debated, where leaning in is the default when seeing disagreement. It is holding the politics of division and allowing an accountable discourse to occur where the result is inclusion rather than exclusion.
We will have disagreements, from within our own party at times, but we cannot avoid or nullify our difference through avoiding debate on real issues facing us. What we need to learn is the tools of compassion to hold disagreement while still ardently seeking reform and unity.
It is only in this space that Trumpism will be defeated. Simultaneously, we must face difficult decisions of how our structural politics has not benefited those most vulnerable and in need. Our middle class has all but disappeared, the “working poor” is a reality and many Americans suffer the effects of staggering inequality.
The stories are countless: single mothers working two full time jobs to make ends meet, a generation of tradespeople seeing their careers evaporate or exported overseas without a system of job-retraining, students facing insecure working environment with escalating student debt and many many Americans are suffering financially due to exorbitant healthcare costs.
When the “economy” is discussed on the news, when do we hear about the effects on normal Americans? What is their life like? Where are their stories?
As Martin Luther King Jr said: “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and although some of us may be in relative positions of privilege, that does not mean we avoid the threat facing America and so many of its residents.
We cannot snap our fingers and to make all of this end. We must be aware that this trend has continued for some time and is getting worse.
We will not be able to achieve equality immediately, that is real.
However, that does not mean we should limit our aspirations, settle for mediocrity, nor defer our ambitions.
We of course need to be realistic but we cannot accept anything less than the intention to make our home the best it can be and truly hold up to the “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness” principle we hold as sacrosanct.
This midterm election year will be crucial in our efforts to this end.
As we assertively continue with our Get-Out-The-Vote efforts in Democrats Abroad Australia, we also find unity in our local meetings that bring people together for a sense of community.
As we call Australia home, we desire what is best for our friends and family back home.
Through our intention and our actions, is how we will create the America we want.
Democrats Abroad Australia, National Chair
This year representatives of Australia attended the Democrats Abroad (Democratic Party Committee Abroad - DPCA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Tokyo, Japan. Representing the DA Australia ExCom were myself, Ritu Clementi (online, via WebEx) and Justin Underwood (DAA Canberra Chair and proxy for Ritu).
This is a crucial year not only to take back Congress and the Senate, but one in which we are fighting for the soul of our country.
I am very pleased that this year’s AGM went beyond just “resistance” to the Trump agenda. We pushed for the Democratic agenda to be bold and attract members back to the party. This was highlighted in speakers such as Will Hailer, Senior Advisor to Tom Perez and Ken Martin, President of the State Democratic Chairs. It was clear that in the age of Trump, we must do more than just “be” Democrats. We must go out and have challenging conversations and be bold to push ourselves and our party beyond our comfort zone.
At an all DA dinner on Saturday night, Michael Blake, Vice Chair of the DNC, gave a very impassioned and energetic speech in a call to action. He stated that we should be less triggered by the awfulness of what Trump says on Twitter and instead find the key issues that bind us as Democrats and use these to vote in the people we want, a sentiment I deeply share.
This is why in addition to representing Australia, I advocated for the newly formed Progressive Caucus (ProDA) specifically about the forthcoming Healthcare Stories pamphlet to be shared with Congressional staff in support of Medicare for All. By all expert accounts, Healthcare will be an organising rally for GOTV this year and you will soon see what DA Global will produce to affect this end. DA Australia and ProDA were and will be instrumental in this effort--watch this space.
In addition to these rallying cries, the AGM was filled with training and positive reports on GOTV efforts, Study Abroad organisation, fundraising, Residency Based Taxation campaign, training on social media, event training, the forthcoming revamped Vote From Abroad website (hint: it includes a digital signature and automatic email sending!), and reports from all Caucuses. This AGM certainly kept everyone’s attention with training sessions and Caucus reports in between the politics of voting on Resolutions and Charter Amendments.
On that note, the AGM voted on and passed several resolutions including the campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), campaign for Residency Based Taxation and more. The AGM did not have enough time to complete the full slate of proposed Charter Amendments however those that were discussed were:
- Providing for leadership diversity based on a more inclusive definition of “sex”: Passed. This allowed for intersex and other classifications of sex or gender that are non-binary. (I would like to add personally how proud I felt to be in this organisation as this was debated extensively between the basis of ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ and how thoroughly differing opinions stated their case in civility and respect to opposing views;
- 1 Person 1 Vote: Passed. This was debated mainly on period of vote allocation (biennial vote allocation) and concern about vote allocation by Country Committees.
It is worth noting that the Charter Amendments concerning Vote Allocation, ExCom Expansion, ExCom Diversity and Gender (Sex) Balance unfortunately did not have time to be debated and voted upon.
Beyond this, I personally took every opportunity to network and meet with Country Committee ExComs and Caucuses to share stories and strategies about how we take our country back. Having personally organised the all-Caucus meet-up on Thursday night before the AGM, it was a great opportunity to meet with DA representatives all over the world.
An overwhelming theme of the AGM was that it always seems to be that a handful of volunteers shoulder the most work--if you are reading and looking for a way to help, read on.
One thing is clear, we need to GOTV and make phone calls. I have requested nearly 2 months ago that a phone campaign call list be created for our DAA members who have not yet used VFA to request a ballot. This means that you will, very soon, be able to call other DA Australia members and remind them to vote! Stay tuned, I will be letting members know via email as soon as this is delivered. You may always contact me if you are curious about this and I will be sure to follow up personally.
Last but not least, the AGM in Japan went off without a hitch. DA Japan is an incredible team and they worked their donkey’s off to make this happen. This volunteer group is an amazing one and wish that our members could meet theirs, I think there would be lasting friendships - I certainly walked away with many.
This AGM was an overall incredible experience. This is not about the past, it is about the future. It was clear that all of must look forward and be bold, get uncomfortable and challenge ourselves if we indeed are going to get rid of Trump and get rid of the conditions which created him.
I look forward to the rest of this year and welcome its challenges with hope and resolve.
Chair, DA Australia
AP Regional Chair, Progressive Caucus of DA
I am pleased to say that I will be attending the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Democrats Abroad (Democratic Party Committee Abroad, DPCA) in Tokyo, Japan from Friday 25th May to Sunday, 27th May!
It is rare that a country within the Asia-Pacific region gets to host the AGM and it is with great pleasure that I will attend and represent Australia in person.
Here are some of the resolutions and charter amendments I plan to support;
- the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) resolution promoting women’s rights and legal protection of equity under law,
- the campaign for Residency-Based Taxation (RBT) as taxation is always an issue affecting the majority of our members,
- The promotion of fair representation of unpledged (Super) Delegates that they cast their vote in proportional accordance to their State’s popular vote, and
- Also revising the allocation of votes with DA (DPCA) so that more members can participate in voting at an international DA level
I welcome any DA Australia member to join this conference via WebEx Teleconferencing, a donation is highly encouraged!
This past Saturday, 24 March, members from all over Australia took part in the “March for Our Lives” Solidarity rallies to say “Enough is Enough” and to ask Australians to help spread the word how important it is to tell Americans to vote this year.
In honour of the 17 people senselessly gunned down at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the US’ most recent mass shooting, high school students all across America marched for their lives this past Saturday, 24 March 2018.
The March for Our Lives drew sister and solidarity marches from all over the world, including here in Australia. We, as Democrats living in Australia, can no longer continue to enjoy sensible gun laws and access to universal healthcare, while our fellow Americans back home are under constant fire.
Hyde Park in Sydney’s CBD drew a crowd of nearly 400. At the US Embassy in Canberra and in Brisbane’s CBD, over 50 people attended each. Many gathered outside the US Consulate in Melbourne. In Adelaide, Perth and Hobart, we had conversations with very receptive Australian audiences.
On Saturday, Democrats Abroad Australia launched it’s 2018 GOTV campaign to Ask an American to Vote - to spread the word about the www.votefromabroad.org website. On the back of this critical issue of gun reform, we asked all Australians to contact an American that they know about voting so that we can expand our visibility for GOTV and Democrats Abroad.
In total, we handed out several hundred flyers that friends, workmates and acquaintances of Americans took. We will continue this campaign in 2018 to support all events in the State chapters as we push ahead with resolve and conviction knowing that we can take back Congress in 2018 with a Blue Tsunami!
We must act to change what we cannot accept. We must and will exercise our right to vote and ensure our fellow citizens living abroad do so as well!
What you can do
If you’re an American living in Australia or anywhere overseas, request your ballot at votefromabroad.org. Spread the word and tell all your American friends living abroad. You can also become a member at democratsabroad.org/join to connect with Democrats living in your state, city or region. You will be kept up to date with your state’s voter and registration deadlines. Membership is free.
If you’re an Australian, please tell your American friend, workmate or acquaintance to request their ballot at votefromabroad.org. Spread the word, tag them, and send them the link to our page.
If you want to be more involved, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In honour of the 17 people senselessly gunned down at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the US’ most recent mass shooting, high school students all across America will be marching for their lives on 24 March 2018. Students across America have already walked out of schools in protest, calling on politicians for sensible gun reform legislation, taking a stand against the powerful gun lobby. The March for Our Lives movement is in full swing.
Enough is enough!
We, as Democrats living in Australia, can no longer continue to enjoy sensible gun laws and access to universal healthcare, while our fellow Americans back home are under constant fire.
We must act to change what we cannot accept. We must exercise our right to vote and ensure our fellow citizens living abroad do so as well.
We must ensure every American who is eligible to vote is informed, empowered and exercises their right to vote in this year’s federal elections. This year, America will elect 435 House of Representatives, 34 Senators, 36 Governors, and thousands of others to state and local positions. In many cases, votes from abroad will be the margin of victory, which means it's more important than ever to ensure overseas Americans vote.
On 24 March 2018, high school students back home will march in every major US city, while solidarity rallies and candle light vigils will be held in major cities across Australia. To coincide with this event, we will launch our 2018 GOTV campaign Tell An American to Vote!
We will not only attend these rallies and vigils, but we will also reach out to Australians in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney asking them to tell their American friends, workmates and acquaintances to vote in this year’s election by requesting their ballot at votefromabroad.org. While this service is provided by the Democratic Party, the ballot application request form is non-partisan. This service is available to all eligible American voters.
What you can do
· If you’re an American living in Australia or anywhere overseas, request your ballot at votefromabroad.org. Spread the word and tell all your American friends living abroad. You can also become a member at democratsabroad.org/join to connect with Democrats living in your state, city or region. You will be kept up to date with your state’s voter and registration deadlines. Membership is free.
· If you’re an Australian, please tell your American friend, workmate or acquaintance to request their ballot at votefromabroad.org. Spread the word, tag them, and send them the link to our page.
· If you want to be more involved, email us at email@example.com
IT'S TIME FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE - JOIN THE INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN
Universal Healthcare: a.k.a Guaranteed Healthcare, Medicare for All, Single-Payer
No matter what you call it, the time is now for universal healthcare. Given the recent attacks on healthcare and threats of repeal towards ACA (“Obamacare”), Democrats need a firm stance to show support for those who need it most.
The cost of healthcare in the United States is the biggest cause of poverty and financial and psychological strain on Americans - especially among minority communities and low income families. Many other countries ensure universal healthcare as a fundamental human right.
Democrats Abroad Australia surveyed its members in 2017 and found that affordable and universal healthcare was by far the biggest priority. In Australia, and many other developed countries, everyone can rely on public and accessible without thought or concern of how it will affect them financially.
You spoke and now it’s time for action.
First: Show your support.
Please use the hashtag #DA4UHC when sharing!
Second: Tell your story.
What unique experience have you have from living abroad that you could tell fellow Americans back home? What experience have you had from a country with free access to healthcare? How have you benefited? Are you a healthcare refugee? Could you be such in future? What would like to tell your lawmaker right now about healthcare? Your voice matters, and will only matter if you use it.
We want to hear your story, please send it to: Info-Australia@democratsabroad.org and then, please e-mail your Representative and Senator!
Third: Spread the word, encourage others to join
Democrats Abroad Australia will take this campaign to the 2018 DA AGM where we will pass a resolution for Democrats Abroad international in support of universal healthcare (aka Guaranteed Healthcare, Single-payer or Medicare4All). Although Democrats Abroad favors the position of single-payer, we will propose a clear and unequivocal support for true universal healthcare, with intent to take to DNC. The more members we have involved, the more successful this campaign will be!
Your voice matters. Your story matters. Be part of the campaign “I Heart Universal Healthcare” and oppose the disastrous attacks on healthcare by joining us in this effort.
There’s quite a lot going on back home and we wanted to make sure you have all the info!
Special Elections - happening this month!
If you haven’t heard of what is now a trend, the GOP is facing formidable challenges in States they thought locked up - namely Kansas and Montana where fellow Dems were very close to winning these deep red states.
While this bodes well for us, we want to make sure you know all about what’s on for the immediate future. You can find a full list of the Special Elections in 2017 here.
Specifically, up this month is:
20 June - Georgia Special Election Runoff Democrat Jon Ossoff is running for the 6th Congressional District
Please do refer to the full list of 2017 Special Elections to make sure you meet the voting Deadlines!
Residency-Based Taxation Campaign - Call Storm on 15th June!
Have a read through the main RBT Democrats Abroad post as contains information as to what the campaign is and why it matters to all citizens living abroad. Also see the Residency Based Taxation Campaign in a Box pdf for details. There is also a Facebook event here.
Democrats Abroad is having an international Call Storm on 15th June - the tax deadline for international filers - where you can pick up the phone to your Representatives and Senators to ask for their support for Residency Based Taxation.
Thursday 15 June is of course US time and inconvenient for us. That 9 to 5 day translates to 11:00pm Thursday, 15th June to 7:00am Friday, 16th June (AEST: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart time).
If you can make any calls - late or early during the above times, Call Storms only work if a massive number of calls are generated, literally disrupting the day. We need your help to storm Capitol Hill on June 15th.
Look for an inexpensive or free calling utility and starting calling home today!
Find the .pdf of this report here: https://www.scribd.com/document/349550222/Survey-Report
This the official Democrats Abroad Australia Survey Results as promised by the Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary - part of the new Executive Committee for DAA 2017-2019. This report will offer a basic interpretation of the results with intention to utilise the responses to form the 2 Year Plan for Democrats Abroad Australia at a time when great organising and planning is direly needed.
We thank everyone who took time to respond to this very important survey as this will indeed determine our path forward, united, in pushing for change to the state of politics in the Party and USA.
Basics (Page 1/4)
Total Responses: 196 (excluding duplicates)
Approx percent of membership: 6 %
Survey Responses by State
99.9 % (accurate to 0.1)
Conclusion & Explanation
The goal was for 200 unique respondents. Ideally wanted 10% membership response (~300). State breakdown was largely as expected per membership numbers, noting that the numbers may not be wholly accurate as they are self identified, and represent a proportionate representation of members per State.
Preferred Method of Communication
Will continue to utilise e-mail for:
- All member-relevant information (routine updates) - we're aware of bombarding people with information and leading to over-saturation.
- Important matters (this survey, DA International elections, State Chapter elections).
- Any urgent matters deemed so by ExCom or Member input.
- State-level organising, meet-ups, actions will be distributed through this channel respective to State/Local Chapter.
- As nearly everyone selected this, all formal DAA matters will be sent through this channel.
Social networks formed the second category, albeit a far-second. The percentage of respondents is proportional to the members currently on/engaged with social networks/media platforms. The Leadership recognises that social media channels can best be used for urgent actions, sharing information and those who want to engage with social media outreach.
We will use social networks for:
- Organising & logistics for publicised events, actions, activities, meet-ups
- Sharing of non-crucial information (concerning Democrats Abroad/Australia)
- Information sharing between teams, individuals
Those who are not engaged with social networks and desire to be active are encouraged to join the State Facebook Closed Group (search for group in Facebook and send a request to admin of group), Slack (send email to firstname.lastname@example.org for invite)
In-Person and Text Message were a virtual tie for third and utilised for quite different purposes.
Personal meet-ups should be used whenever possible and to extent of what members prefer. Obviously organised at State level for Capital City/Regional meet-ups aside from AGM.
In-Person (aside from obvious personal connection):
- In-depth planning and action
- Social events, actions, protests
- Organising where possible given membership location
Text-Messages are more tricky, and we will utilise when we can. Obviously good for reminders and driving specific tasks/goals but challenging to send mass blasts due to technological limitations. This will mostly be used on a local level.
Virtual Meetings was last and will be used for connecting regional members and when local members can’t attend the in-person meeting.
Larger Picture (page 2/4)
What are the four most urgent National Issues for the USA? (limited to 4)
- Affordable of Universal Healthcare (77.5%)
- Global Climate Change (61.8%)
- Income Inequality/Raising the Minimum Wage (46.6%)
- Domestic Gun Violence (44.6%)
- Corporate & Special Interest Money in Politics (39.7%)
This was asked to gauge where everyone is at, what they are feeling should indeed be the direction of the Party as a whole. It was also asked so that the Priorities that inform the 2-Year Plan will indeed be member-driven and not just the assumptions of the elected leaders. Our goal for DAA is to ensure that advocacy will largely focused (yet certainly not restricted to) these issues. It’s noted that in the comments, the majority of write-in responses were “all of them” (or an equivalent phrase). We will be prioritising turning out to vote to special, State and Federal elections and these issues to drive DAA forward.
Is the Democratic Party in need of a transformation?
Given the result of 2016 and the divide within the party, this was a necessary question. 1 was “no, not at all” and 10 was “yes, totally and completely”. Taking the straight average, the result is just under 8 with highest respondents being in categories 8 and 10 (tie). In fact, 64.2% said that the Democratic party was in need of a total transformation (ranked 7 or higher). It is obvious that DAA members believe the party is in need of change.
How we'll do it - your involvement
Excitingly, although only 35 people said they were currently involved in your local chapter, 153 people have said they want to be more involved. And, nearly every respondent saying they’d be willing to take part in activities including social media actions, calling politicians, turning out the vote and other activities.
If you’ve volunteered to take part in actions and activities, we’ll be passing along your information to your local Chapters, and we’ll be in touch soon!
Find the results to the 2017 survey here: https://www.scribd.com/document/349550222/Survey-Report