For previous ceremonies at US cemeteries, the massive number of those fallen were collectively honored. The approach at the Centennial on August 25th, 2018 in Coulonges Cohan was the opposite. 100 years ago during World War I, the death of one remarkable 20-year old pilot, Quentin Roosevelt was commemorated as that of an emblematic hero representing the fate of the many. He was the son of a former President of the United States who was shot down at the commands of his airplane. At the tombstone where the plane was downed, many local and regional organizations laid wreaths. I had the honor of laying a wreath of flowers that designed our flag, on behalf of Democrats Abroad France. The honor was compounded by the presence of descendants of the Roosevelt family, some local, some whom I believe came especially from the U.S.
The multi-generation element was touching. A 12-year old namesake, Quentin, a local French youngster, gave a determined speech to “Quentin R” saying “you were my age when you came to France, you saw the air show at Reims and decided you wanted to fly planes". The story of how it all started, with a school boy saying he wanted to make a copy of the plane that was shot down, was inspiring. Big trees from little acorns grow!
On May 17,2018 members of Democrats Abroad Lyon Chapter met to discuss the topic “What would you like to change about the Democratic Party?” The session grew out of hearing frequent objections from liberals and progressives to the behavior of our party before, during and after the 2016 Presidential election.
Our intended agenda was to look at the Democratic Party Platform and evaluate whether it addressed and prioritized issues correctly, and then to look at the Unity Commission Report to see if it went far enough to right the wrongs identified since the election.
It quickly became apparent that our members were not interested in evaluating policy. Instead, they had enormous pent up disappointment and doubt that needed to be expressed. We were lucky to have a diverse group representing both the East and West coasts of the U.S., as well as a few folks from the heartland. We were also fortunate to have a millennial with us who was very eloquent about the disenchantment of his generation with the party’s process.
The discussion was emotional. There were two main themes: expressions of angst over broken problems and suggestions for reforms and solutions. Here are extracts from the evening’s conversation.
Broken Promises and other problems
“We need a candidate who embodies both parts of the party, mainstream and progressive.”
“The Democratic party needs to learn how to address the political, geographic and rural center of the country if it is to win a national election.”
“The most energetic voters are the far right and the far left.”
“The Democratic Party has become just another party of white men.”
“The Party underestimates how much disappointment exists over the performance of the Obama administration.”
“The Party spit in the face of young voters. They need to do something to restore opportunity if they want to keep young voters.”
“There has been a loss of faith that the party will do what they say they will do.”
“The Party uses black voters for their purpose (to get elected) and then ignores them when governing.”
“During the campaign, the Republicans had a wider field of candidates and therefore their process looked more transparent. It appeared that, on the Democratic side, the DNC put their fingers on the scales.”
Reforms and Solutions
“Voters don’t care about platform. Politics is an emotional game. We need to build a brand and create brand loyalty, revisiting the concept of Yellow Dog Democrats who would vote for a yellow dog rather than a Republican.”
“Build and strengthen our ties with universities, creating international connectivity among universities and a global movement.”
“Fix the electoral college system. Control the message by speaking of Trump as ‘the president elected by the electoral college, not by the people’.”
“Work towards a constitutional amendment on congressional term limits.”
“Radicalize the middle because the progressive agenda is best for them too.”
“Hold election day on a weekend to improve voter turnout.”
Americans living abroad must register to vote each election year in order to ensure that their vote is protected.
Vote from Abroad will be providing walk-in voter registration for all Americans each Saturday during the month of September from 10h00-11h00. There will be a volunteer available to assist anyone who needs to register in their State. After filling out the registration form, each Amereican is required to mail the form to their corresponding board of elections. Simply stop by the English-American Library off the Zone Piétonne; walk to the Super Dallas' clothier store, enter the parking gate and follow the signs.
* 01 September
* 08 September
* 15 September
* 22 September
* 29 September
If you can’t make it to the walk-in registration, you can also register by going to VoteFromAbroad.org.
The Autumn kick-off event for the Toulouse Chapter of Democrats Abroad:
American author and academic, Jen Schradie, PhD, presents the thesis of her book:
The Revolution That Wasn’t; How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives
(Scheduled for publication in Spring 2019 by Harvard University Press)
Many of us hoped that the Internet would be a key democratic tool advancing grassroots democracy and political activism. We had reasons to believe it was so, from the #MeToo movement, to Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. Digital activism seems cheap, fast, and accessible.
However, Jen will present the surprising findings from her book showing effective political mobilization requires money and organizational sophistication online as much as off—casting doubt on the democratizing power of digital activism.
* * *
Jen Schradie has a master’s from the Harvard Kennedy School and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.
Her work has been featured on CNN, the BBC and in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Time, Daily Beast and Buzzfeed. She received the Public Sociology Alumni Prize at University of California Berkeley and has directed six documentary films.
A Toulouse resident and former Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, she is now Assistant Professor at the Observatoire sociologique du changement at Sciences Po Paris.
Voter registration help will be present for anyone needing it!
After the talk, everyone is invited to share a bite to eat at Saveurs Bio, a nearby vegetarian restaurant. If you'd like to join us (Jen will be Guest of Honor), please say so in your RSVP, so we can notify the restaurant as to numbers.
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