Chapter Meeting, June 16th, 2018

Thank you to everyone who attended our most recent chapter meeting.  It was great to also see several members make it all the way from Bremen.  Plans for upcoming Get Out The Vote events and phonebanking were discussed (you can find more details here if you would like to get involved).

We also broke up into groups to discuss aspects of the current Democratic platform, and how we think the Party should be approaching them:  immigration reform, gun control, and environmental sustainability.  The exercise was very productive, and resulted in a number of ideas we think should be part of the platform.

We would like to to continue with this discussion beyond the meeting.  If you are interested in being part of a group that analyzes, discusses and works to put together goals for these and other policy topics, let us know.  This kind of work will certainly allow us as a chapter to provide our members, the press and the public with clear statements about what we as Democrats living abroad consider important.  We can also envisage a next step of reaching out to the DNC and proposing our ideas for consideration.

If would like more information about getting involved with this project, or would like to see the notes from the meeting, drop us a mail at [email protected] .


First Black Caucus Meeting & possible upcoming events

Dear Democrats Abroad Black Caucus Friends,

A big thanks for all those who came out last Sunday to our first Democrats Abroad Black Caucus meet-up!  
The first meeting was very productive and we encourage you to share your talents and experience to ensure further progress and success.

Marc Castagnerea Dem. Abroad, Hamburg team head, gave us a small history of the Democrats Abroad in Hamburg.
Candice Newton told us about her new leadership of the Young Democrats.

We discussed possibilities of involvement & unity with other Black Democrats Abroad.

Possibilities are the inviting of speakers, for example: Michelle Alexander (bestseller of The New Jim Crow)
or Darryl Davis (who dialogues with KKK members into giving up their robes)

Some of us will be doing research pertaining to these possibilities and also concerning gun control issues, Me Too Movements here in Germany and Black Lives Matter Germany.

Our main issue of course, is getting people abroad to “Get out the vote!”

For this cause, we are suggesting combining a Juneteenth picnic / barbecue at the Planten & Blomen with a Get Out The Vote Booth on the nearby bridge.
The Juneteenth event will hopefully take place on June the 24th at 13.00. Everyone should bring their favorite "picnic baskets" to share. Family members are cordially invited to attend.

Those from the Booth action are cordially invited to join us after their event.

We will send out more updates as soon as we can.

Please feel free to pass this message on to other People of Color who are US citizens!
We do have a facebook page for members to give information.

Please also check out the other Democrat Abroad Hamburg (+Facebook) & Black Caucus pages.

For membership to Democracy Abroad Black Caucus please register at:

We can make a difference!

-in Unity & Peace,

Elaine Thomas
Democrats Abroad-Black Caucus Hamburg
[email protected]

DAG Caucuses in Hamburg

We are excited to see our chapter become ever more active, and that includes opportunities for our members to get involved in the DAG caucuses at their local level.  Here are the caucuses currently being represented within our chapter, and the people leading them:

- Young Dems / Youth Caucus:  Candice Newton has taken over as lead of our chapter's Young Dems (or Youth Caucus).  She is in the process of planning events for the months leading up to elections.

- Black Caucus:  Elaine Thomas and Love Newkirk will be leading Hamburg's Black Caucus.  The first meeting is scheduled for June 3rd, where plans for the near and longer term future will be discussed.

- LGBT Caucus:  Vinnie Cabrera will be leading Hamburg's LGBT Caucus.  He is currently focused on planning CSD events in Hamburg, and also helping the Germany LGBT Caucus with events in other regions.

- Women's Caucus:  Charlotte Milstein is based in Bremen, and will be leading the Women's Caucus at our chapter level from there.  She has been in contact with the DA and DAG Women's Caucus to plan and coordinate efforts going forward.

A huge thank you to everyone for taking on these roles.  And thank you to Phillip Reviere for running our Young Dems for the past two years.  If you have questions or want to get involved in any of these caucuses, please reach out to [email protected], and we will pass it on to the appropriate lead(s).


March for Our Lives Hamburg

On March 24th, DA Hamburg stood in solidarity with the March for Our Lives movement in Washington, D.C. and around the world.  It was a solemn event with many tears, commemorating the victims of the Parkland school shooting, only the most recent in a long series of gun violence in the USA.  Several people spoke not only about this history of violence, but also about the change we as citizens united demand from our legislators.  It is an honor to be a part of this inspirational movement led by young people in the US - we look forward to staying involved, and seeing more people join us!

Below you will find pictures and impressions from some DA members who attended.

It was invigorating to see a diverse group of Americans, accompanied by supporters from Germany and elsewhere, standing together in solidarity with the March for Our Lives events that took place in Washington, D.C. and around the world.  We heard personal stories of gun violence in America from both Americans and Germans living in the U.S.  The next step will be to continue this momentum into November, and help elect representatives who will legislate for gun control, such as reinstating the assault rifle ban, stricter background checks, longer waiting periods, and perhaps even -- as former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has recently written -- repealing the Second Amendment.  The time is now! 
- Al Herrara-Alcazar

Within the last year, I began to lose my faith in America.  But with what’s happening right now, after yet another horrible tragedy, these young people & future voters, students like Emma Gonzalez & David Hogg, standing up, fighting for their lives and future and actually getting people all around the globe to stand with them, there is a bit of hope after all... 
- Sam Geller

After crying for the better part of an hour listening to stories of sadness and loss that did not have to be, if only politicians had acted selflessly years ago to institute background checks on all gun purchases, one last speaker seemed to address me personally.  "This past year seems like ten years!" he said, "I feel as if I´ve aged ten years."  Exactly the way many of us feel, as our country is pushed backwards in time and held hostage to greed and self-interest.  But on Saturday, at least we had each other, and the hope that change is possible. 
- Maryann Schmunk

Thank you again to everyone who attended and helped make this peaceful protest so meaningful.  We look forward to seeing you at future events, and are eager to hear your feedback and ideas:  [email protected] 

article by Marc Castagnera, pictures by Chesney McKinley-Severance & Maryann Schmunk


Demanding Action: A Panel on Gun Control

On Saturday, March 24th, as over 1 million people worldwide were preparing for March for Our Lives protests, Democrats Abroad and other guests met at Bucerius Law School to talk about gun control in the wake of the Parkland shooting.  The members of the panel - Joana O'Neil, Jared Ozga and Alex Severance - each brought a unique perspective on gun ownership and legislation surrounding firearms.  Americans and Germans in the audience had questions, and the conversation could have continued beyond the planned two hours. 

Special thanks to the Gruene Hochschulgruppe at Bucerius for hosting this event and making it possible for it to take place at their university.  We hope to put together other joint events with them in the future.

article by Marc Castagnera, pictures by Eric Shambroom
left to right, moderators:  Marc Castagnera, Sarah Wilson-Reissmann; panelists:  Joana O'Neil, Jared Ozga, Alex Severance



By Arlie Russell Hochschild
Discussed by the Hamburg Chapter Book Club, 10 March, 2018


Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild set out to explain what she calls the “Great Paradox”—why people vote against their own best interests—in this case, supporting Republican politicians while repudiating the Environmental Protection Agency. Her choice of Louisiana was predicated on the fact that it ranked 49th on a recent human development index of all the states, yet boasted the largest number of Tea Party representatives in Congress. Limiting her study to environmental issues also made sense as the state exhibited one of the highest levels of pollution in the country, yet the greatest resistance to regulating those responsible. Her research aimed to find out if it was possible “to know others from the inside, to see reality through their eyes, to understand the links between life, feeling, and politics; that is, to cross the empathy wall?”

We all agreed that she succeeded, and most of us read her book with optimism, wanting to give it a try as well. For five years Hochschild LISTENED, and her encounters are presented as a series of themed stories of individuals, ending with a huge fact checking appendix offering a contrast to the deeply felt beliefs she recorded.

“POLLUTION IS THE SACRIFICE WE MAKE FOR CAPITALISM.” The American Dream plays an outsized role in these stories, as does a belief that hard work should be rewarded, not only in the afterlife, but also with all the material trappings they long for now. In contrast to liberals who tend to resent the upper 1% of the wealthiest, Tea Party supporters admire the super-rich who they feel have been blessed from above. Furthermore, they have convinced themselves that they are faced with an either/or situation: “You can´t have both the oil industry and clean lakes.” Despite extraordinary loss of life and property, they remain loyal to the petrochemical plants which are literally killing them, because they provide the jobs that enable them to ascend the class ladder too. As for capitalism, “What else, besides family and church, was there worth feeling loyalty to?” asked one woman. Needless to say, our group came up with another version of the American dream including feeling safe, access to a good education, not having to worry about health care, and the freedom of each individual to seek happiness in their own way.

Also enlightening, Hochschild details the absolute derision these Tea Party supporters have for those who accept government help (food stamps, unemployment benefits, even health care) regardless of the circumstances. To clarify, she presents an interesting construct that helps us understand their lack of empathy—cutting in line. With their emphasis on the American Dream, and their belief that their hard work and lifelong sacrifices on the altar of capitalism entitled them to be near the front of the line when rewards are distributed, they became disillusioned by developments starting at the end of the 1960´s with the rise of identity politics, the cosmopolitan middle class, and an “undeclared class war.” They felt short-changed and ever more resentful of those who they saw as cutting in front of them in line, not to mention the liberal policies that enabled them. They felt like strangers in their own land.

“THE IDENTITY POLITICS CANDIDATE FOR WHITE MEN” Small wonder that the candidacy of Trump captured not only their imagination but their votes! The book ends as Hochschild attends a campaign rally of joyous hedonism conservative style—a release from the constraints of political correctness—where the candidate on stage gave voice to all their unspoken feelings and cultural yearnings. He promised to make them great again.

SYMPATHY FATIGUE” Perhaps the biggest surprise was that conservatives were not only keenly aware of their reputation among liberals , at least in a stereotypical way, but many were at pains to insist that they were not bad people just because they did not feel sorry for immigrants or the underprivileged, for example. On the other hand, they resented what they described as being told how to feel, as well being looked down upon and ridiculed by liberals. Perhaps this is an opening for us, and we could at least feel satisfied that we are trying to bridge the divide by reading this book. The optimists among us were a bit deflated though, by the fact that even Hochschild hardly managed to budge any of her subjects politically, although in the end, she did count them all as friends.

By coincidence, on the very day the book club met, the New York Times printed a story which provides an up to date account of the tragic story of environmental degradation in Louisiana:

Please join us on 21 April when Book Club members journey to Berlin and meet up with fellow Democrats to visit the Topographie des Terrors, after reading On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, by Timothy Snyder. More details to follow.

Text and Photo by Maryann Schmunk


2018 DAG AGM in Hamburg

Thanks to an amazing group effort by DAG, the Hamburg Chapter and its many volunteers, this year's AGM in the Hafenstadt was a success!  It is safe to say that everyone attending is fired up & ready to go for the GOTV season.  There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we will get it done, and we will get it done together.

Over 20 changes to DAG bylaws were debated and voted on, with the majority passing and making changes that will shape and strengthen our organization.  These include conditions necessary for new chapter formation, and the structure of leadership.  It was inspirational to see nearly 100 members discuss and argue opposing points in a constructive, democratic fashion.

Special thanks to Josh Handelman of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, who came all the way from Washington, DC to talk to us Saturday evening about the elections this November.  He is a wealth of information, having answers to anyone's questions about any upcoming race (literally).  The Democratic Party has a real chance to take back Congress, and voters from abroad need to be part of that!

And special thanks to all the volunteers who helped make this event possible, and all the homestay hosts who helped members from around the country be able to attend. It was a beautiful thing to see so many of us coming together and working toward a common goal. We hope to see you again. And if we haven't seen you yet, come on and check out what's going on!

Below you will find a series of brief articles about the AGM, called AGM Notes.

Text by Marc Castagnera
Photos by Margaret Metzler & Eric Shambroom


AGM Notes: Neuland / Uncharted Territory

This year’s AGM started off with a bang and a fiery display of emotions in a theatrical roller-coaster. Theater director, Julia Hart, put together a collage of episodes highlighting American reactions to the election in 2016 and its aftermath on American expats and their families. The eight amateur actresses sang, yelled, whispered and laughed through scenes they had experienced themselves in the US or abroad. The idea for the piece actually occurred to Julia at a workshop hosted by one of our own Democrats Abroad members in order to work through the post-election emotional storm. It became clear to Julia that a theater piece would not only help the women on the stage, but also other Americans living abroad. Shortly before this special performance for the AGM, Julia and her actresses updated the piece to include elements reflecting the Parkland mass shooting and the #MeToo movement.

After the standing ovation, the actresses and the director sat next to each other on the stage to take questions from the audience. Most members of the audience, who were shaken and had streaky cheeks, welcomed the chance to express gratefulness to and admiration of the performers. There were also non-Democrats Abroad people in the audience who drew parallels to Europe and the issues here with populism.

In years to come, when one looks back on the election of 2016 and the subsequent presidency of Donald Trump, the feelings of frustration, disappointment, abandonment and utter helplessness will no doubt come to mind. Now, thanks to Neuland and the impressive theater company, the feelings of belonging and being understood among fellow Americans far away from home will be present as well.            

Text by Cynthia Walther         


AGM Notes: Communication with Democrats Abroad

Katie Solon had the formidable task of presenting the working session on Saturday morning entitled: Getting/Staying Connected to Democrats Abroad—People, Teams, Tools, Calls, Meetings—I kid you not!

She described the WIKI,, which provides Democrats Abroad members with many helpful tools and information such as:

· A list of officers for each Chapter with contact information
· Get out the vote, voter registration, and ballot request information
· Information on groups allied to Democrats Abroad
· Democratic National Committee Members contact information
· Information on Caucuses and Tax Forces
· Up to date summary of rules
· Guide to doing phone banking

This website can be accessed with a password which is available from the Chapter Chair. We also learned that any member may join in DAG regularly scheduled calls by signing up in advance. There is also access to EXCOM and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Asia regions) calls, plus special web forums on a particular topic, with a guest speaker.

The possibility of starting an Environmental Issues Group within Germany was raised and a few individuals expressed interest. Please contact me if you too would like to see this happen or can offer your assistance.

I had hoped that there would also be time to talk about how Democrats Abroad communicates with us, its members, but alas time was up. At least now though, we have an address book of sorts where complaints and suggestions can be directed.

Text by Maryann Schmunk
Photos by Eric Shambroom


AGM Notes: DA Caucuses

AGM attendees had the chance in the afternoon to break up into groups and talk about the different caucuses that are part of DA. It was a great opportunity for members from around Germany to meet and talk face-to-face about the specific issues their groups can focus on. Several members want to get more involved and pursue coordinated action in the months to come. You can find more details about the DA caucuses here, and about the newly formed DAG Veterans and Military Families Caucus here .

Text by Marc Castagnera
Photos by Eric Shambroom