An expat’s 10-step guide to political engagement

Perhaps you know the feeling. Before your first cup of coffee, you debate whether to check the news to see what happened while you were sleeping. You try to resist, as something about your news obsession feels voyeuristic, undignified. But you check anyway . . . .
You feel overwhelmed and powerless. You are torn between focusing on what is happening in America and retreating into the comfort of being far away. Yet you know in your gut that retreat is a privilege whose comfort is illusory.

Read the full SwissInfo opinion piece here.

An Opportunity for Action: DAFrance - Riviera Chapter Elections 2017

Now that we have elected our executive committee for Democrats Abroad France, the next step is to elect our own executive committee here, within the Riviera Chapter. Our activities don’t come without the strong efforts of a vibrant Executive Committee.  Recovering from the traumatic 2016 Presidential Elections, it is time to renew these efforts.  We can’t let our momentum subside nor allow our voices to be silenced.  So the time has come for our own, Democrats Abroad France - Riviera Chapter’s Executive Committee elections.  We are officially calling for candidates for the following positions:

  • Chair
  • Vice-Chair
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Up to six members-at-large

Please take the time to consider the possibility to dedicating time to our Executive Committee for a two year term.  If you have any questions about the roles and responsibilities of these positions, please respond to this e-mail and we will get back to you.  It takes a team of volunteers to keep the torch lit.

In order to successfully organize these elections, we are establishing a deadline for reception of candidacies.  To have your name on our ballot you will need to submit the following by our next Political Wine on 05 APR 2017 (Wednesday):

  • your name, 
  • the position you wish to run for
  • a brief statement of your interest (150 words maximum) 

Your submission can easily be done by replying to this e-mail.

In addition for all members, please mark on your calendar 18 APR 2017 (Tuesday evening) when our elections will be formally held.  The location:

Hôtel Villa Rivoli
10 rue Rivoli, 06000 NICE

(**Voting will be possible electronically, by post or in person.)

Along with the elections, we will be hosting an expert on FATCA and how it has impacted our communities abroad. Keep an eye out as more details to come at a later date.

Please note this is our local election and is independent of the national election for the DA-France Executive Committee just held on 11 MAR.

Meet the Hundreds of Officials Trump Has Quietly Installed Across the Government

The list we obtained includes obscure campaign staffers, contributors to Breitbart and others who have embraced conspiracy theories, as well as dozens of Washington insiders who could be reasonably characterized as part of the “swamp” Trump pledged to drain.

The list is striking for how many former lobbyists it contains: We found at least 36, spanning industries from health insurance and pharmaceuticals to construction, energy and finance. Many of them lobbied in the same areas that are regulated by the agencies they have now joined.

Read the full ProPublica article here.

Don Beyer: What Can You Do About Trump?

It’s a good question because in almost every meeting that I’m part of, people are crying out saying, "What can I do?" I was at a little dinner last night with a bunch of guys my age — my history book club — and even these guys were asking, "What can we do?"

It’s been very difficult to come up with concrete answers. I try to answer at least three ways . . .

How to lose a constitutional democracy

Democratic backsliding is far less rare than political scientists used to believe. In a recent academic paper, we identified 37 instances in 25 different countries in the postwar period in which democratic quality declined significantly (though a fully authoritarian regime didn’t emerge). That is, roughly one out of eight countries experienced measurable decay in the quality of their democratic institutions. 

Scholars used to argue that democracy, once attained in a fairly wealthy state, would become a permanent fixture. As the late Juan Linz put it, democracy would become “the only game in town.” That belief turned out to be merely hopeful, not a reality.

Read the full Vox article here.

Kellyanne Conway’s interview tricks, explained

Conway’s talent for surviving tough interviews is hard to deny. But it’s that same talent that should raise questions about whether interviewing her is a worthwhile journalistic practice at all. 

“Once she has decided not to give meaningful answers to questions, there is no way to have successful interview by traditional measures. There’s only gradations of failure, only gradations of non-answers.”

View the full Vox video here.


To find out who are the key Democrat leaders in the 115th U.S. Congress and the positions they hold, please download this organization chart that was distributed at our Political Wine.

What We’re Fighting For

From our founding we have made these kinds of moral demands of our soldiers. It starts with the oath they swear to support and defend the Constitution, an oath made not to a flag, or to a piece of ground, or to an ethnically distinct people, but to a set of principles established in our founding documents. An oath that demands a commitment to democracy, to liberty, to the rule of law and to the self-evident equality of all men. The Marines I knew fought, and some of them died, for these principles.

That’s why those Marines were trained to care for their enemy. That’s why another Marine gave his own blood to an insurgent. Because America is an idea as much as a country, and so those acts defend America as surely as any act of violence, because they embody that idea. That nurse, in the quiet, alone with that insurgent, with no one looking as he cared for his patient. That was an act of war.

Read the full NY Times article here.

This veterans’ group just debuted a show-stopping ad directly addressing Donald Trump

Look, you lost the popular vote. You’re having trouble drawing a crowd. And your approval rating keeps sinking. But kicking thousands of my fellow veterans off their health insurance by killing the Affordable Care Act and banning Muslims won’t help. That’s not the America I sacrificed for.

View the full VoteVets video ad here.

Avoiding the Perils of Resistance Fatigue

Not every protest or action will garner positive or immediate results—and that’s fine.  It’s the way things work.  Never let any perceived failures impact future engagement negatively, use them as motivation.   Remember the precipitating factors behind your actions, those are what matters.  Civic action is more of a marathon than a sprint; it’s about setting things in motion and making noise.  You are on hold listening to mind-numbing Muzak waiting to speak with a representative’s staffer for a reason.  You are spending your weekend on the streets chanting, jello-armed with a sign above your head for a reason.  And that reason should supersede everything. You may be lucky enough to not be directly impacted by the laws and practices you’re fighting, but many people are.  Think about the people you’re fighting for and stay angry.

Read the full Huffington Post article here.