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DA-Spain April 2022 Newsletter

Message from DA Spain Chair

Torrevieja windyUsually the fun fact in our newsletter appears at the end, but today we’re starting out with one, as well. Did you know that the average adult spends about 10 full months of their life talking about the weather?

As I write this, the weather here in our home in Torrevieja has been absolutely wild. March was the wettest it’s been in 95 years, and the wind has whipped the palms around so much I’m surprised the fronds aren’t in braids by now. On the plus side, local surfers are having a great time. And for good or ill, we entertained two sets of guests from the USA during this deluge. We apparently have hardy friends, because everybody just donned rain jackets and headed out to see the sights.

Our home country is experiencing heavy weather, too. In the midst of the world’s turbulence, we’re facing midterm elections in which forecasters say Democrats could lose up to 60 seats in the House of Representatives. SIXTY SEATS. Goodbye investigation of the attempted coup on January 6, and hello impeachment of Joe Biden for, well, being alive, along with anything else equally nefarious the Republicans can think up.

So Democrats Abroad Spain has to do its bit. Each of us has to do our bit. And here are the three things you can do:

  1. Volunteer to phonebank. This is critical. We’re calling other members of DA to make sure they register to vote, request their ballots and return them. You use an online system that lets you know what to say, dials for you, and doesn’t tie up your own phone. Make five calls just to try it out; you’ll see how easy it is!  (See details below)
  2. Tell other Americans abroad about the importance of voting from overseas. Guide them to votefromabroad.org, where up-to-date voting information about every US jurisdiction is available, along with individual help if users have questions. The vast majority of Americans who vote from abroad are Democrats, so your individual outreach can have a significant impact.
  3. Help Democrats Abroad Spain find folks who are savvy about social media and who’d be willing to help DAS with its social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok) or otherwise help out with the communications team. Reach out to us at [email protected]

It’s time to pull on the raincoats, stuff our feet into rain boots, and get to work. We can’t change the weather, but we can change the outcome of our elections. So let’s get going!

Kathy Tullos (Chair) 

    


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La Lucha recordings

If you've missed any of our amazing La Lucha Continúa speakers this year, never fear! We have recorded the sessions. Links are below: 

On January 11, 2020, DA Spain (hosted by DA Barcelona) had the distinct pleasure of hearing from Rachel Vindman (and briefly from her husband Alex as well). Rachel is an activist and plain-spoken political commentator who fights for justice and American democracy. She shared observations from her vantage point in the suburbs of Washington, DC and acknowledged that we, as Americans living abroad, have a unique perspective on the events unfolding back home. She enthusiastically encouraged all members to register to vote and to vote in every election — not just the “big” races at the top of the ballot. The problems with our democracy, she said, have been imposed from the top down – but the solutions must come from the bottom (that’s us!) up. 

On March 8, we had a very interesting conversation with Texas lobbyists Bee Moorhead and Josh Houston, who tried valiantly to explain what’s going on at the Texas state legislature. Heavy-handed Republicans in control there are seriously restricting voting rights, and had the opportunity to field-test their restrictive new policies in the primary elections on March 1st. Our guest speakers went over all the recent developments, and explained what they are doing to defend Texans’ right to vote.

On March 22, we spoke with legendary election whisperer Rachel Bitecofer, founder of StrikePAC. Dr. Bitecofer was the first (and one of the few) to predict a huge blue wave in 2018. She had a serious message for us in 2022. Be sure to listen to the recording, where she makes it clear US democracy is in a "break glass" moment.

David Pepper is former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, a former councilman for the city of Cincinnati and former member of the Hamilton County, Ohio Board of Commissioners. He is also a prolific author, having published four political thrillers. In October 2021, he published the nonfiction book Laboratories of Autocracy, an urgent message to Americans about the attack from within on our democracy. In the book, he describes how the GOP has gradually, almost imperceptibly taken over the mechanics of our democratic system by winning local and state elections and then changing to rules to keep their hold on power. On April 5, 2022, David Pepper spoke frankly to Democrats Abroad Spain about the importance of knowing what's going on in your home state, being informed on the issues, and voting in every local and state election.


DA-Spain March 2022 Newsletter

Message from DA Spain Chair

One of my favorite poems is Tennyson’s “Ulysses.” The work presents us with Ulysses many years after his odyssey ended, safe in Ithaca but still yearning for adventure. As part of his meditation on aging, the hero utters the classic line: “Tho’ much is taken, much abides.”

This line has been with me often in the last few tumultuous weeks. As you may have noticed, Democrats Abroad has not officially spoken on the top news story, the conflict in Ukraine. Many are asking why we are silent in the face of this unfolding drama. I wanted to talk with you today about why that’s so.

When I joined Democrats Abroad, I was surprised to learn that the organization has a strict policy not to discuss foreign policy in any way, shape, or form. I’ve been told that there are legal reasons for this prohibition, although I have no firsthand knowledge here. What does resonate with me is that DA has members in more than 200 countries around the globe, and some of those countries would surely take offense at almost any foreign policy-related comment we could make. So, for example, if we were to condemn Russian actions, Russia and its allies would probably take umbrage at our decision.

Now, even my nearest and dearest know that I’m personally not afraid of hurting someone’s feelings in furtherance of the greater good. If someone gets mad at me, so be it, but DA is in a different position. We have members in countries with wildly varying stances on the issues at hand. Some countries have been known to retaliate against individuals who belong to organizations that publicly disagree with them. And that potential retaliation can be–and, apparently in some cases, has been–quite serious.

So here we are. As an organization, we have a responsibility to keep our members safe. Thus, as an organization, we don’t comment on foreign policy. As you can imagine, this prohibition has sparked a lively debate inside DA, and those discussions are ongoing. But in the meantime, the rule stands, and we will abide by it.

But, as Ulysses observed, though we can’t do some things, we can still do others. I’m sure many of you, because you have the good taste and open hearts that led you to join DA, are doing wonderful, vital work on issues in DA’s no-go zone, and DA is doing its bit by fulfilling its core mission: electing Democrats.

So, if you will, abide with us as we move towards the midterms. Please take advantage of the many volunteer opportunities described in this newsletter. Register to vote, request your ballot, and cast your ballot. Encourage other US citizens to do likewise. Because, as Ulysses saw, there is still much for us to do. 

Kathy Tullos (Chair) 

    


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DA-Spain February 2022 Newsletter

Message from DA Spain Chair

It’s February, and I’m writing to you from my home state of Texas. Remarkably, it’s actually been cold here; we had an entire week of at- or below-freezing temperatures at night. (The electrical grid didn’t even threaten to collapse, which it actually did last winter, but Texans with cold weather PTSD have been quite twitchy for a few days.) Anyway, the cold inspired me to make a couple of batches of soup.

As I stood in our kitchen stirring a fragrant batch of bean soup, I recalled one of my favorite childhood books. Stone Soup told a story that resonates with what we are doing at Democrats Abroad Spain.  Read more about stone soup...

Here at DA Spain, we make a lot of our own sort of soup together. Of course, our dishes aren’t liquid, and you can’t eat them, but they are important all the same. Members make a few phone banking calls – potatoes. Members staff tables at voter registration drives – carrots. Members use their social media platforms to talk up DA and tell others about how US citizens can vote from abroad – tomatoes. Members contribute small amounts to DA to help us pay for phone banks, mailouts, banners for our voter registration tables, and the myriad other items that enable us to connect with Americans abroad – beans. Again, you get the idea.

I’m grateful to every one of you who helps us fill the pot. And I hope each of you will consider adding to DA’s soup. We’re not the tricksters that our travelers were, so all we can do is assure you that whatever you choose to add, matters. Your efforts promote and safeguard democracy. And that’s a delicacy beyond compare.

So if you’re interested in volunteering or contributing, please take a few minutes to fill out the Volunteer Interest Form.

Thank you, and buen provecho!

Kathy Tullos (Chair) 

    


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Importance of down-ballot voting on US education issues

The importance of down-ballot voting on US education issues – literally the nation's future
by Dan Solon

A standard feature of high school graduation speeches by class valedictorians and guest speakers is often lampooned as "Graduates! The future lies ahead, and it is in your hands." Easily spoofed, it is nevertheless an undeniable reality.

For that reason, and to help prevent the possible development of a United States that, in say 2040, is even more harshly divided than it is today, overseas voters should pay more than customary attention to down-ballot issues and races this year. It is increasingly obvious that the Republican party apparatus is in thrall to the former president and his extremist supporters. Not satisfied with trying to relitigate the 2020 election results as raw meat for the party's "base" – whatever and whoever that may be – a number of the more pragmatic activists are trying to eat into the fabric of the US education system.

Across the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the American primary and secondary education system includes nearly 100,000 Kindergarten through 12th grade schools. Local, county and state-level structures vary widely. What is broadly similar, however, is that schools, their teachers and their curriculum are controlled at all three levels. In many states, the legislatures are effectively gerrymandered, and influence lies disproportionately with rural areas, much like the Electoral College and the Senate.

Efforts are underway to control and reshape what may or must be taught, or what is forbidden, in American schools. This is coming both from the top down — in state legislatures — and from the bottom up — in local school board elections. To cite only a couple of examples, Virginia's new governor, Glenn Youngkin, has proposed a "tip line" for parents concerned about individual teachers to report them to state authorities. The former East German Stasi surveillance system comes to mind - an unhappy reminder of the power of the snitch.

In Texas, where the battle for governance in a potential swing state rages unabated, a state legislator has proposed that school reading lists should provide balanced coverage of "both sides" of issues, including the World War II Nazi Holocaust. It is unclear what could be the "other side" of that story, given the ample photographic and written historical evidence.

The bottom line for US voters abroad is that, wherever elective positions or policy proposals are on absentee ballots, voters should make the effort to discover underlying facts and the positions taken by candidates. They can then make informed choices about the educational standards in their home constituencies. The future of our country does indeed "lie ahead," and what that future will look like will depend heavily on what today's students are taught and, hence, how they vote in future elections.


Stone Soup

Message from DA Spain Chair

It’s February, and I’m writing to you from my home state of Texas. Remarkably, it’s actually been cold here; we had an entire week of at- or below-freezing temperatures at night. (The electrical grid didn’t even threaten to collapse, which it actually did last winter, but Texans with cold weather PTSD have been quite twitchy for a few days.) Anyway, the cold inspired me to make a couple of batches of soup.

As I stood in our kitchen stirring a fragrant batch of bean soup, I recalled one of my favorite childhood books. Stone Soup told a story that resonates with what we are doing at Democrats Abroad Spain. In the book, three travelers enter a small village. The trio is hungry, but the villagers don’t have a lot of food to spare and are disinclined to offer a meal to them. The travelers say that is fine with them, as they can make their own delicious soup with a long spoon, a large stockpot, a nice fire, and three smooth stones. Curious, the villagers supply the pot, the water, and the fire. One of the travelers takes three stones from his pocket and pitches them into the water.

The water boils and the travelers stir the water and sniff the air. “Ah, this stone soup will be delicious!” cries one of the cooks. “Divine! Of course it would be better if we had some potatoes! But it will be fine just as it is.” A couple of villagers scratch their heads and think of a few spare potatoes they have squirreled away in their cottages. Deciding to take a chance, they run home, bring back the potatoes, and throw them into the pot.

“Even better!” exclaims the cook. And he’s right – the soup has a definite aroma now, and it’s pleasing to the nose. “This will be perfect! Alas, it would be more perfect if we had some carrots, but never mind!” Of course a couple of other villagers rush off to supply a couple of carrots, and ….You get the idea. Cue the tomatoes, beans, peas, meat, and seasonings. Everyone pitches in a little, and everyone happily feasts on the “stone soup” at the end.

Here at DA Spain, we make a lot of our own sort of soup together. Of course, our dishes aren’t liquid, and you can’t eat them, but they are important all the same. Members make a few phone banking calls – potatoes. Members staff tables at voter registration drives – carrots. Members use their social media platforms to talk up DA and tell others about how US citizens can vote from abroad – tomatoes. Members contribute small amounts to DA to help us pay for phone banks, mailouts, banners for our voter registration tables, and the myriad other items that enable us to connect with Americans abroad – beans. Again, you get the idea.

I’m grateful to every one of you who helps us fill the pot. And I hope each of you will consider adding to DA’s soup. We’re not the tricksters that our travelers were, so all we can do is assure you that whatever you choose to add, matters. Your efforts promote and safeguard democracy. And that’s a delicacy beyond compare.

So if you’re interested in volunteering or contributing, please take a few minutes to fill out the Volunteer Interest Form.

Thank you, and buen provecho!

Kathy Tullos (Chair) 

    



DA-Spain January 2022 Newsletter

Message from DA Spain Chair

I’ve read a lot of murder mysteries. A LOT. And my favorites are the cozy ones, where, even before you start the book, you know that everything will turn out all right. Of course, there’s always one chapter toward the end where the protagonist is cornered by the dastardly murderer. That’s the bit I read the fastest, because I just want to get to the happy ending and enjoy the part where the villain is no longer holding a dagger at the detective’s throat.

A different dagger is being held at the throat of our democracy, as President Biden recently reminded us, and the threat is not fictional. We see signs everywhere that our homeland could easily slip into autocracy, or worse. Voter suppression is rampant; lies about the integrity of our elections spread faster than Omicron; open calls for civil war are heard in public discourse and on social media. And sadly, we can’t simply read fast and skip to the part where everything turns out okay in the end.

That’s why we, overseas Democrats, must turn out in droves in the midterm elections. We have to register to vote, request ballots, and return those ballots in a timely fashion. We have to be the people who refuse to succumb to the second, more insidious Big Lie: that our votes won’t count, so there’s no point in voting in the first place. And we have to ensure that our American family members and friends do the same. This is the only sure way to defeat the threats to our democracy.

Look, I know that phone banking, staffing voter registration tables, and sending messages to US voters abroad may not be on your list of Top 10 Entertaining Things To Do in 2022. I’d rather be reading the aforementioned murder mysteries myself, but if we want our democracy to survive, we all have to pitch in. Please go to VoteFromAbroad.org for reliable information on how you can vote in the midterms. And click on our Volunteer Interest Form to find out how you can do your bit to help others vote. Finally, please share this information with your friends.

So while there is a dagger involved, this time there’s no mystery. Let’s get out there and fight for our country.

Kathy Tullos (Chair) 

    


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DA-Spain December Newsletter 2021

Message from DA Spain Chair

It’s December, which means it’s holiday season once more. Many religions and cultures celebrate special days this time of year; for both of us, Christmas is the holiday of choice this month. And Christmas in Spain can teach us all a lot about what’s to come in the months ahead.

In the USA, of course, Christmas Day is pretty much an ending. It means presents get unwrapped and put away, carols stop ringing out of car radios and at shopping malls, and householders start eyeing the space they’ll regain in the living room when the tree finally gets taken down.

In Spain, though, December 25th is the beginning of the 12 days of Christmas, which will culminate in the coming of the three Wise Men on January 6th, el Día de Los Reyes. On that day, Spanish families celebrate the arrival of the Kings with gatherings, gifts, and parades. Here, Christmas Day is a beginning, not an end.

Democrats Abroad Spain goes through a similar push-me-pull-you with endings and beginnings this time of year. Certainly December is an ending for us, as we close out our books on the year. We tally up how many members we gained and lost this cycle, check our bank balance, and reflect on what worked and what didn’t in terms of programming and outreach.

But it’s also a time for us to contemplate what’s ahead. Next year is an election year, and predictions for the midterms aren’t pretty right now. Fortunately, we’ve got amazing folks working on Get Out The Vote programs, membership initiatives, and fundraising efforts to pay for all of the above (and more) in the year ahead. Having celebrated the past, we’re ready to move into the future.

With the elections and COVID-19 and heaven knows what else around the corner, we’re confident that 2022 will be yet another challenging year. But as they say in the Christian tradition, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Thanks to you all, whatever traditions you hold dearest, for being part of that light and for walking together through whatever lies ahead.

With best wishes for the holidays and the new year,

Kathy and Carlos

    


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DA-Spain November Newsletter 2021 - Black Friday’s not the point

Message from DA Spain Chair

It’s November, and we Americans are looking forward to celebrating this month’s revered national tradition — Black Friday! Seriously, though, Thanksgiving is upon us, and it’s time to focus on the three lessons that it can teach us. And I think we Democrats in Spain – indeed, Democrats across the globe – would do well to reflect on them.

First and foremost we have a lot to be grateful for. Are things perfect politically? Of course not. We hold both houses of Congress by razor-thin margins, and the loss in the Virginia gubernatorial race was a painful blow. But Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are in the White House, which beats the alternative by miles, and we’ve got thousands of volunteers across the globe who are ready to roll up their sleeves for the midterms. Is our country perfect? No, and that’s distressing; it’s distressing because we believe that the USA has a lot to offer us and the world. So there is much to be grateful for.

The second lesson is that we know how to be together, even when we disagree on some issues. This coming week, families of all stripes will gather at the Thanksgiving table and try hard to be nice to each other. Similarly, Democrats can – and do – work together for common goals. We need that kind of unity, that kind of “gather around the table” mentality, in our work as Democrats. Let’s focus on the many, many issues and concerns and dreams that unite us. This is how we win. This is how we progress.

The third and final lesson of Thanksgiving is that, historically, it’s a seriously mixed bag. European settlers prospered in America, but they did so at a terrible cost to indigenous people, people of color, and lots of others we could name. But we Democrats are at least willing to acknowledge both the good and the bad in our country’s past and work from that to craft a better future. If we work together, we can build on our successes and try to deal with our failures.

So happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and let’s all raise a fork to what we can accomplish together. And, on a personal level, please know that I’m grateful for all of you.

Kathy Tullos, Chair, DA Spain

Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things.”  

March 4, 1801: First Inaugural Address. Thomas Jefferson

 

    


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Democrats Abroad Spain forms Youth Caucus

If the outcome of COP26 teaches us anything, it’s that people whose interests are anchored in the past are not going to help us build a better future. This is why young people must step up and get more involved at this crucial time – and why we are excited to announce the formation of the DAS Youth Caucus

The new group is led by Hunter Baldridge, a graduate student at Saint Louis University in Madrid. If you are interested in helping out or getting involved feel free to connect with Hunter via our newly created Instagram or by email. The first order of business is to grow the caucus’s following by figuring out where students and young adults are located across Spain. With this base, the team will be putting out a call for a five-member steering committee. This committee will be responsible for developing activities, strategies and social media campaigns. Once everything is set up, the Youth Caucus will host events, register students to vote, and increase involvement of the 18-35 age range in our political system. The 2022 midterms are coming up fast, so there is no time to waste!