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
We are excited to present the candidates for DA Australia Executive Committee for 2019 to 2021!
Here are the nominees and you can click on their names to read their candidate statements.
· Chair: Kent Getsinger, South Australia
· Vice Chair: Layne Mostyn, Queensland
· Secretary: Connie Gibbons, Victoria
· Treasurer: VACANT
· Counsel: Donald Anton, ACT
· DPCA Voting Representative: Bipin Manuel, Queensland
· DPCA Voting Representative: Sandra Fowler, NSW
· DPCA Voting Representative: VACANT
· DPCA Voting Representative: VACANT
NOMINATIONS WITHDRAWN - Carmelan Polce, Michael Ramos
All candidates are excited about the challenge of Getting Out the Vote in 2020, an important election for our country. Voting instructions to follow soon.
***Nominations for vacant positions can still be taken from the floor at our Annual General Meeting.
DA Australia’s Annual AGM
Our AGM will be held on 6 April, in Sydney, from 10:00-12:00 at OzHarvest – Warehouse G3/G4, 42-64 Maddox St, Alexandria, NSW. You can RSVP here to attend in person or via videoconference. If you plan to attend via videoconference, please also register here. Instructions on how to join the videoconference on the day can be found here.
DA Australia AGM
Democrats Abroad Australia (DAA) will hold its annual general meeting (AGM), including the election of national country committee officers, on Saturday, 6 April 2019 in Sydney. The AGM will be held at Oz Harvest HQ in Sydney from 10:00am - 12:00pm AEDT.
All DAA members are welcome to attend either in person or by remote videoconference access through Webex. All DAA members are eligible to vote in the election, either in person, by proxy vote or remote ballot. The AGM must have the participation of at least 20 members to meet quorum. Further details about the AGM, how to RSVP and vote to be announced shortly.
DA Australia Nominations now open for National Leadership Roles
Nominations for DAA ExCom officers and voting representatives now open until Sunday, 10 March 2019. The following DAA ExCom positions are open: Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, and Counsel, as well as Voting Representatives.
Every position is for a two-year term. They must be members of Democrats Abroad Australia at the time of the election and for the duration of their two-year term. The Chair and Vice-Chair shall be of the opposite gender. ExCom Officers must meet at least quarterly each year (in person or remotely). Roles and responsibilities for each officer are listed below.
*****UPDATE - Nominations extended till Saturday, 16 March*****
Members may self-nominate for any of the roles. Candidate statements are due in writing by 11:59pm AEDT, Sunday 10 March to the Chair of the Nominations Committee, Karen Banes, at email@example.com. The candidate statement should be 1 page maximum, highlighting the candidate’s background, relevant skills and experience, motivation and objectives in seeking office, noting any existing involvement with Democrats Abroad or the Democratic Party. It's helpful to know the amount of time you have to devote to DA Australia. The candidate statements will be shared with DAA members prior to the election. Candidates are also encouraged to submit a one-minute video of their candidacy in addition to a written statement.
Those interested to run for office are highly encouraged to contact the Nominations Committee to have a complete understanding of the roles, responsibilities and time commitments. The Nominations Committee are as follows and none of them are seeking elected positions:
· Karen Banes, Committee Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org; 0481 708 580 (Canberra-based)
· Ritu Clementi, DAA Vice-Chair and Teller of Elections, email@example.com; 0499 954 157 (Canberra-based)
· Heather Gustin, firstname.lastname@example.org; 0466 726 218 (Perth-based)
Executive Committee and Voting Representative Roles and Responsibilities
The Chair shall be the chief executive officer of the organization, shall call and preside at all meetings of members and of the ExCom, and shall have responsibility for all activities approved by the organization. The Chair shall sit ex-officio on all committees of the organization including any Standing Committees, with full voting privileges. The Chair shall be a member of the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) and attend meetings of the DPCA.
The Chair must attend either in person or via Webex and vote in the biannual International AGM of Democrats Abroad. The next DA International AGM will be held in Washington DC 17-19 May 2019. (The Chair may delegate proxy vote if unable to participate).
The Chair is expected to attend (in person or via Webex) and vote in the Asia-Pacific regional caucus and the DA Convention in the year of a US general election. (Proxy voting not allowed).
The Chair is encouraged to attend the monthly DA Asia-Pacific regional phone meeting. The Chair often serves as spokesperson for DA Australia but these responsibilities can be shared or assigned to other members in Democrats Abroad.
The Chair must not be of the same gender as the Vice-Chair.
In the absence of the Chair, the Vice-Chair shall call and preside at meetings of members and of the ExCom. The Vice-Chair shall have such other duties as the Chair shall define. The Vice-Chair shall become Country Chair in case of a vacancy in the office of Country Chair until the next AGM at which Officer Elections are held. The Vice-Chair shall be a member of the DPCA and attend meetings of the DPCA.
The Vice-Chair must attend either in person or via Webex and vote in the biannual International AGM of Democrats Abroad. The next DA International AGM will be held in Washington DC 17-19 May 2019. (The Vice-Chair may delegate proxy votes if unable to participate).
The Vice-Chair is expected to attend (in person or via Webex) and vote in the Asia-Pacific regional caucus and the DA Convention in the year of a US general election. (Proxy voting not allowed).
The Vice-Chair must not be of the same gender as the Chair.
The Secretary shall maintain the member database, minutes of all meetings and all files and administrative records of the organization. The Chair may appoint member Database Manager(s) to fulfil the obligations imposed by the DPCA for the maintenance of the current list of members. The Secretary shall maintain an active correspondence with the Local Chapter contacts. At meetings requiring a quorum the Secretary shall confirm a quorum of members is in attendance in person or by proxy per the current member database. In the Secretary’s absence the Chair shall appoint an ExCom member to serve in the capacity of the Secretary.
The Treasurer shall manage the finances of the organization, maintain its financial reports to members and prepare such financial reports and submissions as may be required by law (including without limitation the laws and regulations of the United States and several States applicable to political parties and contributions to them). The Treasurer shall prepare and present to the AGM of DA Australia a Statement of Income and Expenses based on a fiscal year ending 31 March and a Balance Sheet as of 31 March. The Treasurer shall maintain a full understanding of the laws and regulations of Australia and ensure that financial reports, returns and other submissions required of the organization under the laws and regulations/regulatory bodies of Australia are tendered in full and on time. In association with the Counsel, the Treasurer shall maintain a robust understanding of the regulations of the Federal Election Commission and, to the best of his/her ability, ensure the organization and Local Chapters are operating in compliance with them. The Treasurer shall have signature power over all bank or other financial accounts held in the name of DA Australia. The Chair and Vice-Chair shall receive copies or updates of DA Australia financial accounts upon request.
The Treasurer shall maintain an active correspondence with the Local Chapter contacts.
The Counsel shall be available for consultation by the Committee or its officers on legal and procedural questions relating to DA Australia and its activities. In association with the Treasurer, the Counsel shall maintain a robust understanding of the regulations of the Federal Election Commission and ensure, to the best of his/her ability, ensure the organization and Local Chapters are operating in compliance with them, liaising with the International Counsel of Democrats Abroad as necessary. The Counsel shall act as parliamentarian at all meetings of DA Australia, unless absent or excused there from.
Voting Representatives (4)
Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) Voting Representatives shall represent the views of DA Australia at the international meetings of the DPCA. The number of voting members is based on country membership and is determined by the DPCA. The Country Chair and Vice-Chair are Voting Representatives by virtue of their offices, while additional Voting Representatives are to be elected by the DA Australia membership.
Alternate Voting Representatives (2)
In cases when elected Voting Representatives cannot attend international meetings of the DPCA, alternates shall stand in their place and represent the views of DA Australia.
As the Midterm elections draw near in the United States, so much rests on whether the Democrats can take control of the House of Representatives. By claiming Congress, the atrocious policies of the current Republican administration can be stopped in their tracks.
Though this looks favourable, Democrats Abroad Australia is leaving nothing to chance and doing everything we can to Get Out the Vote from Down Under.
Absentee ballots from overseas have been critical in determining close, contested races in the past. The last presidential election was decided by just thousands of votes. Seventeen congressional seats were decided by margins of 5% or less. Close races indeed hinge on absentee overseas ballots.
National Chair Kent Getsinger states: “We are at a critical time both for our country and the Democratic Party. Not only have we seen immense resistance to Trump and his administration but have seen movements that are truly transforming our country for the better. Women’s March, March For Our Lives, statewide campaigns for medicare for all and economic justice. There are people who are bringing hope to the US and making a difference for the better and we are making a difference from overseas with our votes.”
Throughout 2018, Democrats Abroad Australia has mobilised voters to ensure that all absentee ballots are sent in.
Volunteers in major capital cities have spent many hours handing out voting information in popular, public places and tourist locales. DA Australia members have committed to ensuring that US Citizens and Australians who may know US Citizens have all the information that they need to vote.
“The NSW Chapter of DAA has been working hard to GOTV for the 2018 midterm elections. From calling voters via the CallHub tool and engaging possible voters at public spaces like train stations, the Chapter is blessed with engaged and committed members to GOTV. We know that wishing and hoping are not strategies so we are in action. Vote. It Matters.” states Marla Minow, Chair of NSW Chapter.
Democrats Abroad Australia also holds public events including other voter registration events and invites the public to comes discuss issues facing America. Event’s like QLD’s Beer and a Barbeque and VIC’s Politics and a Pint are some of many examples where members and volunteers gather publically to help voters get registered and raise awareness of issues in the US.
“Members are outraged at what is going on” writes Volunteer Coordinator Layne Mostyn of QLD Chapter. “We just had a huge turnout on in Brisbane for our voter registration event and although people were clearly angry about the recent Kavanaugh confirmation, the event was overwhelmingly positive and full of community spirit. My biggest takeaway from the event is that we can build our communities to be strong again, but we all need to show up and engage.”
Thomas Lopez, Chair of VIC Chapter states: “Here in Victoria, we are passionate and dedicated to changing our home, the United States, for the better. We have come together and held many meetings to coordinate our efforts and help get out the vote. Our Politics and a Pint series was designed to get out our message to other like-minded Americans living in Australia. We are keeping up our efforts to push through to Election day and ride this Blue Wave into November.”
Each new academic year brings new study abroad and exchange students from the US who may be voting for the first time. Volunteers have visited campuses all across Australia to educate and empower students about how to vote! DA Australia had attended orientation events and held social gatherings nearby campuses for new students.
An immense challenge for the United States is making sure as many people vote as possible. As the United States does not have mandatory voting attendance and the Democratic effort is largely to Get Out The Vote (GOTV). Volunteers have been contacting DA Australia’s entire membership to make sure that they have all the info to vote. All our membership has been contacted through a phone call or SMS to make sure that they know about the absentee ballot request form VoteFromAbroad!
“I am convinced that the single most useful thing I can do for the 2018 elections is to help get out the expat vote” says John Driggers, DA Australia Volunteer from SA Chapter
Democrats Abroad Australia also has an objective to reach the nearly 100,000 US Citizens living Down Under so that they know about their right to vote from overseas. We have used social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat - sharing the information about how any US citizen can use the VoteFromAbroad website to request their ballot.
National Social Media Coordinator Shanna Nurkin writes: "Paid media allows us to reach this audience (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!”
National Chair Kent Getsinger concludes: “People are motivated, we are motivated. Not just in opposition to the current administration, we are all waking up to the real issues that perpetuate politics of division. Embedded sexism and racism, lack of a living wage, staggering healthcare costs, insecure work and many more difficulties have faced Americans for some time. Despite the awful news we are barraged with from the US, there is indeed a new, revived direction of politics and a real, hopeful vision for the future of the United States. It is an honour for all of us to contribute to that from overseas.”
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.
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 email@example.com