On January 28, 2018, the Executive Committee of Democrats Abroad France unanimously approved a resolution from its Bylaws Committee to adopt a set of significant reforms to its present Charter. This was done in order to conform to the Charters of Democrats Abroad and the Democratic National Committee, and to innovate in a manner that will make us a more effective and efficient organization in furthering Democratic goals and getting Democrats elected. Consequently, the Bylaws are now submitted to the general membership for final approval at the Annual General Meeting to be held on March 17, 2018.
You can see the proposed set of new Bylaws HERE.
What’s new? What’s different?
There are some boring technical minutiae, but there are also some large structural and operational changes. Notable changes include:
1. Paris will become its own Chapter. Until now, the Executive Committee has been doing the work of both a national organization and a local chapter. But thanks to extensive growth over the last 15 years outside of Paris—in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Marseille, Aix, Avignon, Nice, Strasbourg, Normandy, and our newest Chapters in Lyon and Brittany—it makes sense that Paris should become a Chapter with its own Officers and Members at Large, so that the National Executive Committee can manage what has become a truly national organization—the fourth largest in all of Democrats Abroad.
2. Consequently, there are changes to the structure of the Executive Committee. As we reflected on our growth, our needs, our experience, and the lessons we’ve learned in the last few electoral cycles, and given that Paris would now have its own dedicated officers, we found a clear need to redefine and adapt the offices of the Executive Committee. Therefore:
· We have reduced the number of Vice Chairs from three to two, and given each of the Vice Chairs a clearly defined role. The First Vice Chair will assist the National Chair in relations to Democrats Abroad at the international level, other country committees, and the Democratic Party, while the Second Vice Chair will help coordinate the Chapters and supervise growth and outreach—a sort of “Foreign Office” and “Home Office” sharing of responsibility.
· We’ve also eliminated the seven “Members-at-Large” and replaced them with four well-defined elected positions: 1. Get Out The Vote (GOTV) Coordinator; 2. Membership Outreach Coordinator; 3. Issues, Events and Programs Coordinator; and 4. Communications Coordinator. Additionally, a Database/IT Manager will be an appointed position due to the technical specificity of that job.
· Chapter Chairs will remain voting members of the ExCom, as well Caucus Chairs, but only if the Caucus is active in more than one Chapter and has at least 100 members nationally.
· You can see the Organizational Chart HERE
3. The membership of Democrats Abroad France has grown extensively in the last decade, but our “old” Bylaws put a relatively high bar on becoming a Chapter, and we lacked a mechanism for enfranchising members in smaller cities and towns. Our proposed “new” Bylaws will remedy those issues with the introduction of “Subchapters”, which would function much like “precincts” or “wards” (we debated furiously on their name). A Subchapter can be formed when as few as ten (10) members petition to form one – so if you’re reading this in Lille, Besançon, Angers, or Tours, to name just a few, and you want to get a Subchapter started, we’d love to hear from you! A Subchapter could hold activities as simple as a monthly meet-up over drinks to talk about politics, or a book club, or a GOTV event to help local Americans register to vote by absentee ballot. And, once every four years, it could host its own Primary Voting Station.
4. Just as Democrats Abroad International has delegates to the DNC, DA-France has delegates to DA International. The number of delegates we have is a function of our proportional weight within DA International (currently, as the fourth “heaviest” country committee, we have 14). Up until now, these delegates were appointed by the Chair, and one person could carry up to four votes, including proxies; but if the Bylaws are passed, then two of the votes will be assigned to the Chair, one to each of the two Vice-Chairs, and the remaining votes (10 under the current allocation) will be directly elected by popular suffrage at the Annual General Meeting. This means that France’s “voice” at the Annual DA Global Convention could be more broadly representative of the diversity of DA France’s membership. And Voting Representatives will be gender-balanced.
5. Term limits on consecutive service in any one office, and lifetime service in any one office, have been clearly defined in a manner that places value on institutional memory while addressing institutional inertia.
6. On a purely administrative level, France will be divided into ten “regions” in which Chapters and Subchapters will work collaboratively to make sure all members receive communication and are enfranchised to vote in DAF elections, in State Party Primary elections, and in US State and Federal General Elections.
There are a few other technical points – such as what constitutes a “quorum” for a meeting and when a “proxy” is appropriate – and the lawyers sharpened up some language here and there, but those mentioned above are the most important changes. We believe that these proposed changes will help the organization grow, meet its responsibilities more efficiently, facilitate communication with its members, be more inclusive and be more democratic. They are also in keeping with the spirit of several of the proposals made by the Unity Reform Commission.
For these reasons, the Executive Committee will ask the membership to vote to accept the proposed reforms to its Bylaws at the Annual General Meeting to be held on March 17, 2018.
Donald Trump was elected on the promise to change the face of American politics and bring power back to the people. The nation is today divided and more polarized than ever before. While looking back on 2017, what can we predict for American politics in 2018? Hall Gardner, Christopher Dickey, Anne Deysine and Joe Smallhoover examined these issues on January 22 at the American University of Paris. You can watch the informative discussion of this memorable evening HERE.
Hundreds of people turned up at Place du Trocadero in the rain that had little effect on the happy, spirited, diverse crowd. There were speakers, witty creative signs, a sea of pussy hats, lots of press and many groups: Indivisibles, Our Revolution, Women’s March-Paris, Page-Paris, and more. Folks gathered to support women, Dreamers, Democrats, immigrants, people of color, transgender people, abortion rights and real news – in addition to fighting Trump and his entire agenda.
It felt good to know that the movement didn’t end last year, and au contraire, seems to be picking up more steam.
- You can watch this whole exciting debate at https://youtu.be/g63WF-upzxM
On November 20, Democrats Abroad France hosted an event entitled "From Droit de Seigneur to Harvey Weinstein, Might Hollywood Take Down an Age-Old Tradition?" The Panel was moderated by Annette Young, Journalist and Presenter at France 24 who also hosts and produces The 51 Percent, a show about women reshaping our world. The discussion was lively and informative with lots of audience participation. Anne Bagamery, journalist and former senior editor of the International New York Times in Paris, Michael Elias, award winning Hollywood writer, and Rebecca Amsellem, young feminist founder of "Les Glorieuses," shared their insights in a discussion with the audience about the tsunami flooding the age-old power play of men over women. Harvey, Kevin, Bill, Matt, Tom, Dick and Harry (and Tariq – not in the workplace and not from Hollywood) have long gone unfettered. The panel pondered the question of how much of an impact these revelations will have long-term and whether this will lead to real social change.
Larry Cohen, co-Chair of the Unity Reform Commission within the Democratic National Committee and founder and Chair of Our Revolution, spoke in Paris on Friday October 27. Cohen is also the former President of the Communications Workers of American, AFL-CIO. His message to the packed-in audience of Democrats Abroad and Our Revolution was an important one: how to build up a more inclusive Democratic Party that delivers a message to Democrats of all stripes. “Out of reform, comes unity,” says Larry. You can watch the evening's discussion HERE.
Among other issues, Larry Cohen stressed the need to enlist support for Medicare for All. See Democrats Abroad’s endorsement HERE
And if you have a story to tell yourself about your single payer experiences living abroad, please CLICK HERE
Democrats Abroad will be sharing our stories with Congress to help the fight for affordable healthcare for All Americans.
Democrats Abroad stands up for these and many other issues, and fights for your rights at home and away from home.
Liz Jaff came to Paris precisely to answer the question “What is the Democratic Party doing to win back the seats in the House and Senate?”
In the two days she was here, she engaged in conversations and dialogues about party politics. Liz works at the intersection of technology, political fundraising and grassroots campaigns. She’s part of the “new blood” that we keep hearing we need in the Party. In February 2017, she ran for Vice Chair of the DNC (Democratic Nation Committee) and lost, but stayed on with the transition team, specifically in technology.
People like Liz - and others from Silicon Valley - can bring a lot to the sphere of Democratic progressive politics. Thanks to Liz, the DNC has already recruited some of the best in the field under the leadership of Raffi Krikorian: Megan Smith, Mikey Dickerson, Lori Thomas, Brian Lefler….and more for a first-class clean-up of the Democratic Party IT infrastructure.
You can watch Liz’s terrific interview on France 24 here: Rebuilding The Democratic Party: Seeking a new direction in the Trump Era.
And to see her speech ("Can Technology Bring Back Democratic Voters?") given at the American University of Paris on Thursday, September 28, click HERE
Special elections in the US still to take place in 2017 require our attention, notably in Virginia and New Jersey. Also at stake is a Senate seat in mega-red Alabama where Democrat Doug Jones will pit himself against the probable candidate, Luther Strange (miracles can happen), or Roy Moore, depending on the upcoming Republican Primary, for Jeff Session's old seat. In Gubernatorial races, Chris Christie is term limited out in 2017, and popular Democrat Phil Murphy looks poised to take his seat. Democrat Terry McAuliffe, also term-limited in Virginia, leaves Dem Ralph Northam in a neck and neck race against Ed Gillespie, former Chair of the RNC. Numerous mayoral races are taking place across the country, and you should check your state to see what's up and VOTEFROMABROAD.ORG
On September 6 in Paris , Democrats Abroad France was honored with a visit from John Perez, one of the longest serving Speakers in the era of term limits. Prior to his service in the Assembly, Speaker Emeritus Pérez was a lifetime member of the Labor Movement, eventually serving as the Political Director for the California Labor Federation.
Perez’s message left the audience hoping that the California experience can be translated nationally. Most impressive was his creative outside the box (California?) thinking, such as defining budgets in terms of job loss, a practical solution that makes sense to everyone whether liberal or conservative.
Perez is the embodiment of why Democrats believe in their Party. He has set a model of progressive and pragmatic politics that work for everyone, for the people. When jokingly asked if California would secede from the union, he answered, “Never. We just want to take it over!” The audience unanimously agreed that we need John Perez to move the Democratic Party forward with fresh ideas. Or aren’t they old ideas, after all?
As Speaker, Perez brought together his colleagues to end California’s era of chronic budget deficits. He worked with Governor Brown and members of the Senate to eliminate the structural deficit that left California’s budget imbalanced for more than a decade. He has been a champion of the Affordable Care Act, and affordability of and accessibility to higher education, reducing student fees by two-thirds for middle class families. He implemented labor union protection for workers in the phenomenally successful high tech industries in California, and in 2010 he successfully blocked former Governor Schwarzenegger’s final budget proposal, which would have wiped out 430,000 jobs for police officers, firefighters, teachers and nurses. He is a rabid believer in green energy, and his state’s success is the living proof of what that means.
Perez works closely with the DNC (he’s a Democratic National Committee member) and we need him there!