The Q+A Panel “US Election 2020” on Monday, 22 September was a challenging and needed discussion about the polarisation in the United States and the very real possibility that there could be mass unrest before, during and after this election.
There was disagreement about the very scary sense of unease in the United States. Challenging issues were discussed such as the systematic issues of racism where organisations like Black Lives Matter are crying out for justice.
However, what was missing from the conversation was the issue of economic inequality.Read more
As Co-Chairs of Democrats Abroad Australia, we support and endorse the “No” vote on the Democratic National Platform that does not include Medicare for All.Read more
At the 2020 Global Convention held on 6th-7th June 2020, Democrats Abroad (DA) voted to adopt its 2020 Platform that we will take to the Democratic National Convention later this year.
During the Global Convention, this Platform was heralded as the most progressive platform ever put forward from our organisation.Read more
Democrats Abroad Australia (DAAU) is the official country committee for US Democrats living in Australia. Membership is available only to US citizens. Joining Democrats Abroad will enable you to have a say in the future of our Party right from Australia.
It’s critical now more than ever that we push for bold reforms in the United States and take back our country in November 2020.
Make sure you vote from abroad and help Get Out the Vote for 2020. Once you have requested your ballot, we recommend that you share the www.votefromabroad.org website to other Americans or Australians who may know Americans! Everyone is welcome to like our Democrats Abroad Australia Facebook page.
Kent Getsinger, Chair
Democrats Abroad - Australia
DEMOCRATS ABROAD AUSTRALIA IS HOLDING FIVE OFFICIAL POLLING LOCATIONS FOR OVERSEAS US CITIZENS TO VOTE IN THE DEMOCRATS ABROAD GLOBAL PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY (GPP) FOR 2020!
So much is at stake in the 2020 Election and we want EVERY US Citizen who lives in Australia to vote - this is why we are having five polling locations with additional cities holding information sessions.
GPP VOTING DAY IS SATURDAY 7TH MARCH 2020!
Times vary by location below:
- ADELAIDE, SA (11:00am - 4:00pm) - Gilbert Street Hotel, 88 Gilbert Street, Adelaide, SA 5000
- BRISBANE, QLD (4:00pm - 7:00pm) - Pig & Whistle Riverside, Riverside Centre, 123 Eagle St, Brisbane, QLD 4000
- CANBERRA, ACT (9:00am - 2:00pm) - King O’Malley’s, 131 City Walk, Canberra, ACT 2601
- MELBOURNE, VIC (9:00am - 3:00pm) - Community Hub at The Dock Multipurpose Room, Level 1, 912 Collins Street, Docklands, VIC 3008
- SYDNEY, NSW (11:00am - 4:00pm) - Palace Hotel, 730 George Street, Haymarket NSW 2000
In addition, there are Voting Information Centres* planned for the following cities, locations and times TBD:
*Voting Information Centres will not officially collect ballots but will have ballots on hand that members can fill out and scan to return to the secure electronic ballot e-mail address.
If you cannot make it to one of the locations on Saturday 7th March, absentee voting will be available from 18 February to 10 March 2020. Ballots can be returned to a secure e-mail address (preferred) OR a PO Box in Adelaide, SA. Details forthcoming.
US Citizens must join Democrats Abroad to vote, same day registration is permitted. Join us today at www.democratsabroad.org/join!
Democrats Abroad Australia also encourages all US Citizens to also register to vote in down-ballot races in your home state (if permitted). NOTE that you may only vote ONCE for the Presidential Candidate either in the Democrats Abroad Primary OR your home state - NOT BOTH!
You can request your State primary ballot at www.VoteFromAbroad.org - follow the steps on the website
Voting Information Guide forthcoming!
Response to 22 July 2019 QandA panel on Australian ABC television
“Why are the symptoms of populism distracting us from the concerns of ordinary and working people?” was the last part of my question on QandA last Monday night.
The 22 July QandA titled “Boris, Brexit and the Black Dog” was focused on populism and I asked why were we focusing on the symptoms of populism, being racism and xenophobia, rather than the cause of populism which is the deterioration of common and working people’s living conditions?
I’m sure every QandA audience member wants to interject after every sentence of response to the question they just asked.
There were some good responses, glimmers of sense, but as the conversation circled, only more questions came to mind. Here are but a few;
What are indeed the “real, legitimate grievances that these people have” that Alastair Campbell referred to in response to my question?
Why would Nick Cater say that he felt his free speech curtailed but at the same time legitimately choose not say something so inflammatory as Trump did?
What is the difference between an “elite” and an “expert” after Alistair Campbell explained the role of an expert? Is that the same thing as the populist anger towards elites?
But most of all: if all on the panel admitting that they knew that we were good at defining what the problem is, had nothing to offer, perhaps even an idea, in “finding a solution”?
I found the last question the most troubling.
Can we not muster some cogent idea, something workable even if wonky, to take us forward out of the division and “symptoms” of the problem my question alluded to?
The sentiment was echoed in Nick McMahon’s recap of the QandA evening that highlighted the overarching pessimism with exception by ending quoting Alastair Campbell “there’s got to be that sense of a big future vision...”
I couldn’t believe after referencing the US example, that there wasn’t a hint of such a “big future vision” occurring right before our eyes from across the pond.
We, as Democrats Abroad Australia, watch in disbelief at the current US administration, yet we also see inspiring moments.
Perhaps because of Trump’s presidency, people are realising what power they have in their own hands - and bringing US Americans together amid this chaos. The examples are numerous.
The grassroots and political movement for Medicare for All, a measure which would eliminate financial and psychological ruin due to lack of un- and under-insursed people in the US.
The Women’s March, organised by the ongoing and continuous and consistent attacks on women and women’s right in the United States, are mobilising for transformational social change.
March for Our Lives, organised by the MSD Parkland Survivors, who have had enough of the inaction on the epidemic of gun violence and the failure of both political leaders and society to act for sensible gun reform.
The Fight for $15, and a recent bill just passed the US House of Representatives, would ensure a direly needed wage increase for those facing class oppression in the US.
Last but not least, the numerous global climate marches, mainly led by school children who realise the grave existential threat of climate apocalypse and that the former generations have let them down.
Ironically, all of these movements and more have been the rallying cry of the four US Congresswomen that Trump singled out in reference to my QandA question with Congresswoman Pressley explicitly stating “our squad includes any person committed to creating a more equitable and just world.”
All of these movements show that people are indeed organising around such a “big future vision” as Campbell yearned for.
Yet, they rarely make it through the filter of global news media, if at all - and sadly only as a footnote to the intentional distractions caused by the US President.
The constant ignoring of these and many more grassroots movements, led by ordinary people, erases what is so lacking from our public discourse: Hope.
It is challenging for anyone to make such a point on national media and I add myself to a long, unmoving queue of many who have wished and wish to do so.
The next day after reading Nick McMahon’s stocktake of Monday night that the penny dropped for me regarding the state of our political sphere and the real essence of what I was asking.
An audience member told her loss of her brother to suicide and that she had to take actions in her own hands. This brave and tragic story made it abundantly clear the cognitive dissonance of what real issues lie in our social sphere.
I note that this walks an uncomfortable line so as not to politicise the mental health issue, which Campbell rightly claimed to be empty words used by both “sides”, but this crisis does urgently require a political and collective response. Not only is it stigmatised, it is too individualised.
As this issue is indeed one that affects us all, whether we experience it ourselves or have a close family or friend who does, it is one that cuts across all of us.
It left me reeling that we do not, in her words, have a system that does “love, support and encourage the mentally ill” and that has led to this epidemic.
Campbell stated that suicide is most prevelant amongt young men and anxiety and self-harm most prevelant among young women. Geoff Gallop added that “young people are the canaries” and that politicians “those of us in politics have a responsibility to recognise that factor and to build a better society.”
I will only comment on the US side of this issue and yet it begs so many fundamental questions. Why. Why, has this not been the priority from day one?
Why is it that care for each other, the nurturing of our relationships between each other, are not the fundamental essence of what we define our society should be? Why is this not reflected at every level of the world that we are creating?
It seems indeed a “legitimate grievance”.
I can’t refrain from adding that in the case of men’s suicide, a major root cause seems to be killing off the emotional parts of ourselves that we deny authentic connection with each other.
This begs a larger question: why have we shunned this possibility for compassion between ourselves at every level and why is this not writ into the letter of political law?
Why don’t we have organisations that are meant for caring for each other, on a physical, mental and emotional level? Why have we taken such a divided approach to focus on these single issues when they are all connected?
Why is an economy not built on our collective wellbeing?
Watching the US from afar, there is a yearning that points the finger at lack of supportive structural changes -e.g. safety net, living wages, public services- that would lead to better health, physically and mentally.
Take for instance said US campaign for Medicare for All - where many not only deteriorate without public healthcare but face the emotional trauma of not being able to afford life-saving operations or medicine because of outrageous costs. The solution both guarantees medical and mental wellbeing, but is a plan far more economically sound, that is projected to save the US several trillion over a decade.
Here, thankfully, is an issue which makes it bluntly obvious a political change that is indeed about caring for people over profit. Indeed is an issue with the “real concerns of ordinary people” in mind.
This QandA session sits too uncomfortably juxtaposed for me as working within a political organisation where I see this work as empowering grassroots movements for collective change.
Yet too often, these issues are framed as “internal” and “external,” that mental health if even acknowledged is overly personalised. It seems to me to be all too similar to the “us” and “them” opposite camps we get into in political divides.
I don’t resign to the pessimism of such recaps of this certain Monday evening. Too often are those with the best intentions left overwhelmed and inactive.
It does however require an urgency of which we’re long overdue.
This panel made it clear the connection of our mental wellbeing of that to the society that we want and deserve.
We need to take part in a movement for positive change. The social connection of a cause greater than oneself gives purpose which distracting habits and gadgets will never provide.
We do that in our organisation, we change what we cannot accept in the world.
The world is made by those who show up - and keep showing up. It takes the ordinary person realising that you must be part of a collective change.
Only then will a “big future vision” start to become a reality.
Kent Getsinger is the National Chairperson of Democrats Abroad Australia
If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 , Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
Whether you experience the nuisance of being double taxed from overseas or want to help for social justice change of Medicare for All or the Equal Rights Amendment - here's your chance to get involved! Urgent deadlines below and there will be actions to do after this month.
Medicare for All
Medicare for All was endorsed by Democrats Abroad at the AGM 2019 and is by far the most comprehensive, compassionate, health-focused and economically sensible plan.
Most importantly, if you have a Representative on the Ways and Means Committee who has not endorsed Medicare for All yet - that list here, we urge to contact them before Wednesday, 12 June - see image at left!
We also encourage everyone to see if your Representative is a co-sponsor of the HR.1384 Medicare for All Bill and email them if they have not signed on yet.
Residency Based Taxation (RBT)
RBT is a remedy, requiring little effort by Congress, that addresses the vast majority of the tax problems faced by Americans abroad. You can read the report by the Taxation Task Force on these issues here.
Join Democrats Abroad Call Storm for RBT on Thursday 13 June - Call Storm Instructions here! This coincides with the International Tax Filing day.
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
It is hard to believe, but men and women are not equal under the Constitution! If you want to help change that, contact your Representative and/or Senator. If your state has not ratified the ERA, please also contact your local State legislators members to support it.
Stay tuned for more campaigns in this year as after the middle of June, the campaigns for Residency Based Taxation, Medicare for All and Equal Rights Amendment will continue!
Once a year, the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA and what we all call Democrats Abroad) has an Annual General Meeting (AGM). Each odd year, this meeting occurs in Washington DC, a great locale so that we can remind all our Congresspersons post-AGM the important work we do - and votes we cast! - from all over the world in a doorknock on Congress.
After the Australia AGM in April, we elected the full suite of Voting Representatives to attend this meeting - either in person or on via teleconference. As we are allocated votes based on population in DA International, we elected 4 new Voting Representatives.
This call, for most of us, was a very late - commencing at about 11pm AEST and finishing around 6 or 7am. This is the commitment that so many give to this organisation in this volunteer role reminds us of our duty to democracy, even though times are often unforgiving for the Asia-Pacific region.
Even at the late hour for most of us, this AGM was packed with presidential candidate visits, an election of the new International leadership, key Resolutions, Chatrer (ByLaw) Amendments and important information to lead us into this critical election year.
Democrats Abroad invited all of the current presidential candidates to attend our AGM or make a recorded statement. Two candidates, Marianne Williamson and Kirsten Gillibrand attended and others sent in recorded statements. As officers of Democrats Abroad do not endorse one candidate over another, we encourage everyone to get familiar with the issues of each - we'll plan debate watch parties soon!
The new International leadership saw a return of Julia Bryan as International Chair, Alex Montgomery as Vice-Chair, Jeffrey Cheng as Secretary and Lisette Wright as Treasurer. This team was tremendous in our 2018 GOTV effort and led us through a difficult transition for the country and party - which is indeed continuing. As the International Counsel did not stand for re-election, Joe Smallhoover ran and was elected. Also, Kat Allikan returns as Asia-Pacific Regional Vice Chair!
There were some key resolutions that were debated. Firstly, the International AGM voted near unanimously for the Endorsement of Medicare for All, this was moved by the Australia Chair, supported by the Vice-Chair, DNC Members, Caucus leaders, many Country Chairs and Voting Representatives. A resolution Addressing the Closure of United States Citizen and Immigration Services, moved by one of our Voting Representatives, was debated and will be further discussed at an upcoming meeting. Others such as opposing the attacks on Transgender service members and honouring of Arian Ardie were passed unanimously. Others were sent to a committee and some such as the Support for the Green New Deal and resolution urging action on Gun Violence will be heard in just over a month at a special meeting.
There were Charter Amendments which you can find here. The Charter is our key governing and organisational document. Several amendments passed, others will be discussed at a future meeting. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, there is only so much
In all of these things, this AGM was packed with information and organising talks to lead us into 2020. This included all Caucus presentations (some were skipped to return to Resolutions), GOTV information, Study Abroad plan, more updates coming to VoteFromAbroad, Communications strategies and much more! We'll be getting this to our local chapters soon.
This AGM was quite comprehensive with inspiring presidential candidate speeches, some great resolutions we hope will motivate issue-based interest in DA and most all a great community trying to create change in uncertain times!
It seems a vast understatement to say that we find ourselves in uncertain times.
We made outstanding progress in 2018 with our Democrats Abroad Australia 2018 Get-Out-The-Vote. The National Leadership, Local Chapter Chairs, activists and our members not only gave Australia an outstanding result of a close 2nd in the Asia-Pacific region for Vote-From-Abroad engagement, but have worked together in possibly the biggest mobilisation since Obama in 2008.
We, the National Leadership and Executive Committee, put our hands up to run 2 years ago - we knew what we were in for.
We have made outstanding progress with the Blue Wave in 2018. We have a long way to go before equality and justice are realised and oppression is lifted in the United States. We cannot compromise on our ideals as we know we are situated in a challenging reality.
This current administration continues politics of division and attacks everything that we stand for. We have known this far too well over the past 2 years being inundated into disbelief at the multitude of depths that they will plunge.
Yet when we ponder what has led to this trend, we can see it’s one that has not happened overnight. In fact, it’s history spans several decades in our country. The graphs shown depict the long trend of inequality with sobering statistics. Here shows stark income inequality by the richest amongst us, gendered inequality in positions of power, that black and Latino families are twice as likely to have zero wealth, that transgender poverty rate is twice the average, and finally that the top 1% income share has doubled while poverty level has stayed the same. Sadly, much more information can be found at inequality.org. Most of the research on this site goes back decades.
These oppressive trends were heavily aggravated by someone we know too well. They were exacerbated by the project of “neoliberalism” - put into practice by Thatcher in the UK and of course Reagan in the 1980s. Under neoliberalism, not only are individuals solely accountable and responsible for their actions, but this belief system asserts a complete rejection of any kind of welfare support or collectivism. This mindset breeds, or enforces, alienation and isolation. It is no surprise that a pillar of this project is vast deregulation - cutting of public services. Reagan summed it up in this ironic statement: “as government expands, liberty contracts”. Under this mindset, it is your “fault” if you cannot keep up. Combined with a brutal history of racism and sexism, makes for the situation we find ourselves in today.
It is not a far stretch to see how synonymous this mindset is with the politics of division. The belief itself divides us from each other; it asserts that we are isolated. This effect is felt and internalised as it is reinforced by punitive economic measures. This favours the privileged in this heartless and cowardly system.
We now must experience the visible outbursts of misogyny, sexism, racism, xenophobia, transphobia and all other sorts of vitriolic rhetoric that does nothing but divide. At the same time, this administration pushes out policies which remove protections for the most vulnerable, most of all the working middle Americans and every marginalised group.
This historic trend over the past few decades puts our current situation in perspective. If gives us context for the extremism we are dealing with.
These attacks are visible every single day and are mirrored by the less apparent, but equally harmful, continual legislative attacks on our rights. Both create an overwhelming challenge and overwhelming rage.
So, how do we deal with this atrocity at every level? When I have asked that question, I think of two recent examples. They are Nathan Phillips, a Native American and Veteran who challenged a group of disturbed young men, and Christine Blasey Ford, who boldly challenged the weight of rape culture in an enormous catalyst for the #MeToo movement.
Both of these individuals faced this insurmountable rage directly. They stared it in the face. They met this challenge with moral courage and in doing so, inspired millions.
This indeed is how we truly can and should confront Trump-ism. For we will not rid ourselves of that which we loathe by becoming it, nor by fighting the symptom and not the cause. This is how we can challenge it and not become what we detest in the process.
Nor can we turn away. Both Phillips and Ford offer heroic inspiration - by finding bravery through vulnerability and resolve. It is this most noble example that should always aim to practice.
There is so much rage at what is coming out of this administration. There is a huge risk to either be overwhelmed by spite or for it to be normalised. Both causes end in the same outcome, desperation and inaction.
When we realise our agency, our power, our ability, to resist what seems insurmountable odds, we know we have a choice.
Our choice was to act. It is the choice we made for the past two years.
Instead of bitter inaction, we here in Democrats Abroad Australia chose to make a difference. Instead of bemoaning the current state of affairs, overwhelming though it is, we acted. Our National leadership, our Chapter Chairs, Activists, Organisers, Volunteers, and Members across Australia decided to make a difference.
Instead of division, we organise, we create community. We fundamentally know that it is not one person who will make the change, it is all of us. We have acted through the past 2 years to create nearly 400 Healthcare Stories, a project initiated by DA Australia and DA Japan. Our members joined thousands in the Women’s March here in Australia to resist gendered oppression. We organised in solidarity for the March for our Lives for direly needed sensible gun reform. We joined many other global campaigns to have solidarity with our fellow Americans back home.
We did this as we know it will take a movement. Not one person, not one Representative, Senator, Governor, not even a President. This will take our continual involvement not working against one another, but for one another.
This must be reflected in the ways in which we govern. The individualistic method that demeans, that boasts ego before cause, does not serve us any longer. We must create systems and structures of equity, policies which remove oppression, policies of shared mutual accountability - and above all, those based on compassion and nurture. This is truly as aspect of solidarity - that which affects another, affects me.
We don’t do this in isolation, self-serving causes are not working any longer with the numerous global threats we face. Of course, we will still act of our individual will, but do so in a new method of interdependence.
But this is indeed not foreign to us in Democrats Abroad Australia. Even from our local meetups, our social connection builds that community from which we act. Here, we invite and we are inclusive. It is by small acts such as these that do indeed challenge and stop this division. Sometimes the simplest act of kindness can make a world of difference.
This is how we will win and ensure a politics of inclusion. This must be our path forward, by however we define ourselves as Americans living overseas.
We cannot turn away from this threat before us. Neither can we lose ourselves in doing so. We must both rid ourselves of the atrocity of this current administration and the divisive, hurtful policies which have for too long impeded liberation. That means not just getting rid of Trump, but getting rid of the conditions which allowed him to be even vaguely competitive.
This is the charge that we carry forward for the next two years. We do this in unity, striving always to be better, challenging ourselves to go further - and supporting one another, together.
Kent Getsinger, National Chair
Extended version of the Chair Report submitted to 2019 Democrats Abroad Australia AGM, 6 April 2019, Sydney, NSW, 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.
Congratulations to our newly elected Executive Committee for Democrats Abroad Australia 2019-2021! We have a great mix of women and men representing Australia's geographical diversity, some which have a lot of DA experience and some brand new bringing much needed energy. We wish them the best as they lead us over the next two years!
DA Australia's New Executive Committee
Chairperson: Kent Getsinger (SA)
Vice Chairperson: Layne Mostyn (QLD)
Secretary: Connie Gibbons (VIC)
Treasurer: Paul LeFreniere (NSW)
General Counsel: Donald Anton (ACT)
DPCA Voting Representatives (4): Sandra Fowler (NSW), Bipin Manuel (QLD), Carmelan Polce (NY and NSW), and Justin Underwood (ACT)
Alternate DPCA Voting Representatives (2): Elizabeth Cage (NSW) and Brian Peck (NSW)
We had a great AGM on the 6th of April in Sydney with members attending in person and via WebEx. You can listen to the WebEx recording here.
We look forward to getting out the vote for the 2020 presidential election, an election that will most likely be an election of a lifetime! We look forward to all DA Australian members participating and getting active for this very crucial election. Remember, we are the margin of victory -- and each of us will make a difference!
Ritu Clementi, Teller of Elections and outgoing Vice Chairperson