Democrats Abroad Annual Meeting 2019 Report

By DA Guatemala Chair John Chudy

The Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA), the governing body of Democrats Abroad and the formal organization that represents Democrats Abroad as one of the 57 state and territorial parties comprising the Democratic Party of the United States of America, held its annual global meeting in Washington, DC May 17 to 19, 2019. The venue was the 20F Street conference center near Capitol Hill. Many of the approximately 220 Democrats Abroad members from 45 country committees who attended the DPCA global meeting, stayed on to participate in two days of door knocking on Capitol Hill May 20 and 21.

The annual meeting agenda included the normal business of officer and committee reports, as well as the election of international officers (chair, vice chair, secretary, treasurer and counsel) and the election of three regional vice chairs. In addition, the meeting also entertained discussion and debate on a variety of resolutions representing policy positions of the DPCA which included the approval of a Medicare for All resolution in support of the House bill presented by Rep. Jayapal, and several proposed amendments to the bylaws that form the DPCA’s Charter. Another important component of the agenda presented the DPCA’s planning efforts for the 2020 election cycle with respect to communications planning, platform content, the DPCA’s Global Presidential Primary, the DPCA’s global convention, 2020 Get Out the Vote planning, and Delegate Selection Plan for electing DPCA delegates to the 2020 Democratic National Convention that will take place in Milwaukee July 13-16, 2020. Details of meeting results and actions can be found at: https://wiki.democratsabroad.org/display/WashDC2019/Washington+DC%2C+DPCA+Global+Meeting+2019+Home

A highlight of the three-day conference was the appearance of guest speakers. Several came in person, while others appeared either live via video conference or videos made especially for our meeting. In-person speakers included presidential candidates Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Marianne Williamson, and from the DNC Jason Rae, Vice Chair and the youngest person ever elected to the DNC, Seema Nanda, CEO of the DNC, Liz Jaff, the DNC’s director of technical infrastructure, and from the Association of State Democratic Chairs (ASDC), Ken Martin, and finally, Josh Handelman, from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (the group associated with the DNC that works to elect Democrats to state legislative bodies).  Live video hookup brought us encouraging words from Sen. Doug Jones , Alabama, and video presentations made for Democrats Abroad were provided from the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.  All of the presentations were inspiring for their focus on 2020 and getting out the vote to elect Democrats at all levels. If there was one common message across all the speakers, it was that in 2020 we must not let the perfect become the enemy of the good, that is, we must vote for the Democratic Party’s nominee in the general election, even if that person is not our preference at the outset of the primary season. As Ken Martin pointed out, many Democrats stayed home in 2016 because they felt let down by the outcome of the primary season; we cannot let that happen in 2020, lest we want to extend our national nightmare another four years.

The two-day door knock activity was directed at bringing three policy topics of interest to Democrats Abroad to the attention of House and Senate members and their staffs. The three items were: The closure of 22 US Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) offices which complicates a number of actions affecting wait times for family reunification leading to permanent separation; HR1, a House bill intended to improve voting efficiency by requiring a durable voter-verified paper ballot, but which can lead to voter suppression for overseas voters with no access to postal service, e.g., Guatemala; Expatriate Tax Reform to encourage Residence Based Taxation in place of the Citizenship Based Taxation system that the USA now employs, apply Same Country Exemption for FATCA, and support for the Social Security Fairness Act which repeals the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). See more details about these three issues in their respective briefs found at: https://wiki.democratsabroad.org.

Meet your new DPCA international Executive Committee:

Back row, L to R: Will Bakker (Belgium), Regional Vice Chair, for Europe, Middle East, Africa; Alex Montgomery (Hong Kong), International Vice Chair; Jeffrey Cheng (Sweden), International Secretary; Kat Allikian, (New Zealand) Regional Vice Chair for Asia Pacific; Joe Smallhoover (France), International Counsel. Front row L to R: Kathy Rothschild (Costa Rica), Regional Vice Chair for the Americas; Julia Bryan (Czech Republic), International Chair; Lissette Wright (Canada), International Treasurer.