DNC Summer Meeting
Which type of Democrat are you?
- Pretty busy with ‘life’ but usually vote and try to support the Party when I can.
- Read the daily news and tweets! Frustrated! But I do what I can to change things!
- Really fascinated by the Party’s inside workings.
Most of our members probably fall in the first group. However, the Trump reign has moved a lot of folks to join the activists in the 2nd group.
And then there’s that handful of ‘political addicts’ who also involve themselves in the inner workings of the Party. That includes the DAGR Chair and Vice Chair, our voting members of DA, who have to attend the meetings.
And then there are the pundits, the TV analysts, the talk-news hosts. Their bread and butter is controversy. The inner workings of all parties are grist for the daily headline mill, but they’ve had particular fun predicting the fracturing and demise of the Democratic Party since November 2016.
The social media echo chamber picks up the theme. McDonalized blog louts (soft trolls) love the negative news, picking up a sleek phrase from their latest twitter feed: Dem duplicity, Dems depleted, Dems at loggerheads, Dems doomed! They think it makes them look sophisticated. No ‘my party right or wrong’ for them!
Sorry, guys! But the Democrats do self-correct. We’ve been working hard on this one ever since the fiasco of 2016. And here’s a major result. Predictions to the contrary, the DNC Summer Meeting this past weekend in Chicago:
- Reduced the number of automatic/unpledged aka super delegates by 60%
- Limited their votes for the presidential nominee to the second ballot at the Convention (unless those votes match the popular vote of their constituency).
While this will not change the 2016 outcome nor the anger in some quarters over how that was achieved, it will affect the 2020 selection process. OUR votes in the primaries will not be offset by deals made ahead of time by party leaders.
The Saturday plenary meeting was extended by 2 hours to accommodate more debate. And some of that debate was heated. At the end of the day, realizing the Unity Reform Commission (URC) recommendations were going to pass, the opposition conceded and the package of reforms was passed by acclamation. (unanimously)
In the ‘big tent’ that is the Democratic Party, unity is seen as the underlying need. Our message is clear. It’s called The Platform. And our way to passing that message into law is winning elections with renewed emphasis on transparency, inclusion and grassroots organizing.
If you want to know more detail about how it works, what it was in the past, how it’s changed, try these 4 short articles from DemList Daily that cover the process as it moved forward.
Dec. 11, 2017 – Recommendations of the Unity Reform Commission
March 13, 2018 – The Old Way and the New (Maybe) Way (Superdelegate details)
Aug. 24, 2018 – The Plenary’s Decision
Of what use is a photo of yourself holding a sign? Well, it IS a message! And it’s a fast way to send that message. You send friends pictures from the beach, with your family, of your latest grandkid. Why not send one to your elected official?
It’s just a mini billboard and a lot cheaper than those big ones along the Interstate! You don’t even have to send $3 to help us put it up!DAGR tried something new at the 4th of July celebration in Athens … the Selfie Helper. As noted below, sending a selfie is a piece of cake for some phone owners and alien turf for others. So, we asked a volunteer to stand by to help the selfie challenged. The goal was to carry on from a virtual presence on June 30 “Families Belong Together” action. And to learn.
The ubiquitous mobile phone ... a recorder of history, a news camera, to amplify official versions or add substance to claims of mistreatment. From traffic stops to paragliding, the camera tells it all.
When phone designers added a second camera pointed back at the user, the selfie took off! Selfies started out as a lark, one more way to say ‘Kilroy is here, and I’m Kilroy!’. Then the afficianodos began to find more serious uses of this instant sharing facility.
Selfies as a Dems Abroad tool
DA’s tech-savvy leadership has encouraged selfies and virtual messaging. On a social media page, they’re a visual ‘list’ of supporters. Put together in a montage, hundreds of them together form a virtual march from all around the world. The virtual amplifies the live protests and official statements sent to the party lawmakers.
Some country committees have been represented better than others, depending on savvy, connectivity, and knowledge of which link to send their selfies to. But, before each major event, there seems to be a welter of hashtags and addresses that might or not land the photo where someone else can pick it up and include in a montage..
This is especially so if the protest is launched by another group, or coalition in which DA takes part. Everybody’s got a hashtag in the game. Where do I see myself after the event? The fog of addresses is clearing slowly, but for those accustomed to more traditional letters, calls and now emails and petition clicking, the key question is whether anybody cares about a selfie.
Who can get a Selfie?
Selfies aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. And you can’t send them to all politicos. But DAGR Vice Chair Steve Medeiros and Athens Chapter Chair Marion Kavallieros did a bit of digging and found some promising possibilities.
They started with the “Indivisible” proposition that the message should be sent to one’s own Congressman and Senators. They’re all listed in government websites. Each one has an email option for contact. Easy, right? Um, nope! Unfortunately, the dialogue box only accepts written messages, typed or pasted in.
Steve discovered a web facility that would send a selfie directly to your designated public official. A perfect solution, but, it’s only set up for stateside users. He wrote off to them to suggest they expand their service abroad. They haven’t written back. Yet.
And then, it hit them. Facebook.
In FB Messenger, you can upload a photo. Save it to your computer or phone Internet app, and upload it to a message. Do all congresspersons have Messenger service? No. But a lot do. And each of us only has to check three officials. Ours.
You can probably do this in Twitter and Instagram, too. The team just didn’t have time to get that far before the fireworks went off. Stay tuned. For now? Instructions below.
For the camera-confident, Go For It!
if you’re good with your camera and have some confidence with ‘posting selfies,’ here’s what you do:
Look up your Congressperson or Senators on the gov’t websites.
Drop their full name into Facebook search box. They may have more than one page. Look for one with a Message link. If they have one, you’re good to go.
Print out a sign or scribble one on a piece of A4 paper.
Hold your sign and take your selfie.
Upload it to your personal Facebook timeline.
Then Share it via Facebook Messenger to each congresscritter you’ve found.
If you use Twitter, you can try the same method as for Facebook. Your elected officials may accept photos. If they do, tweet them a selfie with message!
Text Messages … Say It With Words!…
Some elected officials don’t have Facebook or Messenger or a Twitter feed. If not, or if you’re not up to selfies, you can use the old-fashioned written word.
Click on the “send email” or ‘contact’ link to open the dialogue box.
Fill in your voter info so they know they should worry about getting YOUR vote.
Select a ‘category.’ Note: There’s rarely one that fits what you want to say.
Type in a Subject line, e.g. “Re-unite Immigrant Families”
Type your message in the box. It can be quite short, or longer and heartfelt. But it should be clear, e.g. “The zero-tolerance immigration policy keeps kids in jail, with or without their families. Please do all you can to reunite families IMMEDIATELY, release families from detention, and then work for a sane, humane, effective immigration policy in compliance with international standards of human rights.”
Most officials now ask for a US phone number. If you don’t have a US phone, borrow one. (First, ask your friend, agent or relative for permission … and which number they keep only for telemarketing and nuisance calls.)
Or go to voice communication
The links above for Senate and House also have the phone numbers for their DC offices. If hometown offices are not listed, and you want to call during a holiday break, click on their website address. There may be several offices for a senator across the state. Most congresspersons have just one. Find these numbers in the personal websites.
Long distance to the US used to be expensive. If you have a flat-rate calling arrangement, it may cost the same as a local call now. If not, use calls for the most urgent matters you want to weigh in on. Be prepared with your information and talking points. Keep it short.
These calls ARE counted by staffers. So are the messages left for some lawmakers. They’re definitely worth the effort!
Prompt: DAGR has an Athens Chapter and a Thessaloniki Chapter.
Response: Oh, has it got TWO chapters, then?
~ paraphrasing the Grivas companion to Access to English, Book 2, Oxford Univ. Press...
Thessaloniki Chapter drew a good turnout for its 2nd year in a row. The northern celebration is smaller than Athens, less scripted, supported by potluck offerings and more open to simple socializing with a strong shot of political discussion. This year, ThessChap reports the focus was on how they’ll Get Out The Vote in the north lands. Under consideration is lending support to registering the healthy contingent of Study Abroad students expected to arrive in September.
Kudos to ChapChair and Rep, Anna Vasilliou and Peter Baiter, for the BBQ put on in Peter’s garden. And thanks to Dimitris Chriss for the donated portion of Vergina Beer and Tuvunu to ThessChap as well as AthChap.
AthChap traditionally has a much larger event, primarily because DAGR was started in Athens, and grew word-of-mouth, friend-to-friend for a decade or so before ThessChap was formed. That’s okay, and tomorrow ThessChap will double and other city chapters will spring up. Disclaimers aside … on to Athens.
Over 130 Athens Chapter members, friends, family and young ones, gathered at ENOA again this year for food, fun and and fireworks to celebrate the nation’s birthday.
Grim realities that made some feel less than celebratory were put to work. Don’t like what you see? Change it! (BTW, have we mentioned Register, Vote, November?) This is what Democracy looks like!
Selfies and a petition to replace 45’s brutal, pandering-to-base, zero-tolerance immigration policies with effective, humane practices set the theme. The petition is to be sent on to DA global, hopefully to be passed on to DNC. If you’d like to add your John Hancock, reply on this email and we’ll get it to you.
The political message was reinforced by the flower-bordered Wall piñata, and small Dems bashed it to pieces. It wasn’t easy! But the rewards were many! Let the children inspire us!
We had great support this year from Omar Alshamy and the ENOA kitchen and grounds crews. Again, we had solid help from our accounting firm, CompuTax, in filing and pushing through one of two VAT exemptions offered to non-profit associations by the Greek Tax Service.
Still, success depends on hard-working volunteers. So a round of applause for:
Early planning: Nikki Fellouris, Marion Kavallieros, and ExCom. Sign-in and ticketing: Charity Moschopoulos, Nick Loisos, Anna Haughton, Stacey Papaioannou. Decorations: Marion Kavallieros. Food Service: Steve Medeiros, Fern Velentzes, Jimmy Katsinis, Zoe Loukopoulos. Beverage Service: Kristin, Iannis and Annalie Zissis. Microphone: Kate Wattles. Promotions: Christina Manning. Selfies Help: Karine Ancelin. Piñata and Lemonade: Sarajane Leone, Charity Moschopoulos, Jai Salvador, Elizabeth Fullerton, Popi Stratis, Kristin Zissis, Annalie Zissis, Karen Lee. Piñata bashing mgrs: Jai Salvador, Christina Lewis, Emma Hensley. Annalie Zissis (capped the final blow!) Declaration History: Vasilios Gikas; read by Steve Medeiros. Declaration Text: read by Emma Hensley. Pyrotechnics: Brady Kiesling and 2 brave young guests of John Lewis. Donations: Site rent, fireworks, beer and mountain tea, lemonade, ice, watermelons, cupcakes, zucchini bread, DJ/playlist and singer, piñata materials, plus €60 in cash donations.
Again this year, we put up a feedback form for AthChap attendees and want to thank the 17 who have taken time to share thoughts and suggestions for next year.
More photos on Democrats Abroad Greece and Democrats Abroad Greece-Thessaloniki Facebook pages.
Wednesday, July 4
BBQ in Peter’s garden in Pilea
Casual -- read, political -- chat around the grill. Peter gets the dogs. A Vergina friend sends the suds. Potluck salads, hot dogs and desserts while seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
RSVP by noon, Monday, July 3
NB: If you have friends who aren’t members but who would like to be, we’ll have forms they can fill out and/or information about how to join online. It’s a good idea to have them bring their US passport!
For general information:
Email [email protected]
Call Chapter Chair Anna Vassiliou at 694 421 5298 or Chapter Rep Peter Baiter at 694 743 8773
Join us for a wonderful Fourth of July!
Anna and Peter
For Democrats Abroad Greece Thessaloniki Chapter
INVITED: All American citizens in Greece, family and friends of any nationality
DATE: Wednesday, July 4, 2018
TIME: 8:00 to 11:00 pm (20:00 to 23:00)
PLACE: Nautical Club of Egyptian Greeks (ENOA), Ellinikon
See directions, map link below
RSVP by noon, Monday, July 2!
Gate opens at 8 - Food service begins at 8 - Fireworks at 10:00 - Dancing till drop or 11-ish
Early swimming option and beach volley
Voter Registration and Ballot Request Assistance!!
Pinata and face painting for the young (at heart)
Table competition - Snarky State-by-State Challenge
Straw Poll - Top 2018 Issues
Young Dems meet-up for tweens to 20s
Medley of American music throughout
Meal ticket €15 – Choice of hotdog, hamburger, or vegetarian falafel plate
(Split a plate for two medium-hungry kids or feed toddlers from yours)
First beverage - your choice!
Greek-style potato salad, coleslaw and tossed green salad
Extras: 2nd-3rd-nth drink: beer, wine, €2; our famous lemonade, mountain tea, soft drinks, €1
NB: Donations may only be received from US citizens. Please bring your US passport!
For general information:
Email us at [email protected]/gr
Join us for a wonderful Fourth of July!
Democrats Abroad Greece, Athens Chapter
How to Get There: (look for the over-road footbridge!)
By Car – Seawards off Leoforos Poseidonos at 2nd Agh. Kosmas tram stop (left between 2nd and 1st Agh. Kosmas bus stops to loop back, if coming from Sounion).
Follow the winding road almost to the end (Akrotiri). Parking!
And let us know if you need or are willing to form a carpool!
By Bus – 2nd Agh. Kosmas bus stop. Walk down the winding road toward the sea.
By Tram –2nd Agh Kosmas tram stop. Metro connects with tram near Syntagma and at several other stations along the route.
Map on ENOA Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/ENOA/201331406586376
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
BBQ in Peter’s garden
Casual -- read, political -- chat around the grill. Peter gets the dogs. A Vergina friend sends the suds. And potluck salads and desserts seem unstoppable. Watch for the invitation with details, next week in the inbox!
Saturday, June 09, 2018 at 11:00 AM
Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece
For the fourth year in a row, Democrats Abroad Greece, will be supporting the LGBTQ community at Athens Pride 2018, which will take place on June 9, 2018, in Athens' Syntagma Square.
DAGR will sponsor an information and GOTV (Voter Registration for US citizens abroad) booth, from 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. on that day. DAGR members will also march behind the DAGR banner in the Pride parade in the evening. DAGR members are encouraged to volunteer to staff the booth in 2-3-hour shifts throughout the day (11-2; 2-5; 5-8), and to join us in the parade. About 15 DAGR members joined us for last year's parade. We'd like to double that number this year.
Interested in volunteering?
Contact: Steve Medeiros -
DAGR Vice Chair
DA LGBTQ Caucus member
via email: [email protected]
SMS at 694 811 9121
In Athens, a Candlelight Vigil held on the steps of Constitution Square, for the 17 victims of the Parkland Florida school shooting, echoed the school walkouts that occurred across the US on March 14th.
Democrats Abroad Greece (DAGR) honored the students and teachers killed on February 14th in Parkland, Florida, victims of another mass school shooting. DAGR joined the groundswell across the globe to push US legislators to better regulate the sale and licensing of guns in the USA. As 17 candles were lit, the names of those gunned down on February 14th, were recited and DAGR members and onlookers huddled around the vigil.
DAGR Chairperson Karen Lee stated: "We're turned our attention from grief to honoring the dead, demanding effective political action to achieve common-sense gun regulation in the US." She added "This is an American problem that will require action by US politicians, but we welcomed any of our friends here who wanted to show their support for our effort."
On March 24th, DAGR staged a Virtual March on their FaceBook and Twitter accounts with the hashtag #MarchForOurLives and #MarchForOurLivesGreece asking members and friends to post their selfies with signs they would carry in an actual March. A few members met at DAGR HQ, while another small gathering took place at L’Ovelha Negra in Moschato suburb, with performance by local musicians.
Although DAGR enthusiastically supported a ‘live’ March For Our Lives, organizers opted for virtual. The march had been set globally for the day before Greek Independence Day, THE MAJOR NATIONAL holiday with patriotic marches and security issues in Athens and Thessaloniki, both on March 24th and March 25th.
For the virtual march, participants posted selfies with signs demanding better gun regulation from US lawmakers. Members were also encouraged to register from abroad and request their absentee ballots for the upcoming midterms and to contact their members of congress with their views on gun control.
The luncheon meeting, held at Hermeion restaurant in Athens and online via WebEx, was quorate plus six guests. Three amendments to the DAGR Bylaws were approved by members voting at the 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM), March 4.
The more controversial amendment set in place a mechanism for dealing with ‘sexual harassment,’ including verbal bullying, among members. That is, it specifically disallows harassment based on gender among board (ExCom), volunteers and general membership and requires ExCom to deal with any complaints received. This amendment was encouraged by global DA, after passage of a similar amendment to the DA Code of Conduct. This amendment was passed with two dissenting votes.
Two other short amendments concerned dates. One tweaked the days ballots are sent in advance of an AGM/election of officers, when mail or electronic vote is used. This brings our date in line with global DA guidance. The other specified that the DAGR AGM in local election years is to be held by 31 January, starting in 2019. This is two months earlier than the previous date, March 31, which may still be observed in even-numbered years. It was proposed in order to minimize the period the bank account is ‘frozen’ at year’s end, until newly elected ‘responsible persons’ are documented to the bank. These amendments were approved unanimously.
Two guest speakers
On the program, Leonidas Gontzes, Associate Dean and instructor of History, Government & Politics, and International Relations, Empire State College, SUNY, led a lively discussion on “Who Americans Vote For Affects the Whole World!” Gontzes brought four of his students – one Greek, two other Europeans, one African – who expressed their positive impression of our transparency and member engagement.
An unexpected bonus was a visit by Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis, on his way back from the Delphi Economic Forum. After brief remarks on state politics and Dem prospects November, he fielded questions and comments. Raptakis sits on the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee and is vice chair of the Rhode Island Senate Committee on Special Legislation & Veterans' Affairs.
Notes for next year
Overall, this was a warm, lively – and tasty – Sunday luncheon. Is Sunday preferable to a weeknight? Feedback is needed. Our WebEx connection was slightly better than last year’s, but still had audio problems. These arise from connecting our limited equipment into (random) venues’ systems, distance to WIFI hubs, as well as possible interference from nearby WIFI. Dedicated equipment may be a solution. The goal is to make the AGM available and convenient, so as many members as possible can participate!
A SIMPLE MARCH THAT SNOWBALLED INTO A MOVEMENT
A few hundred or so participants gathered on the steps of historic Constitution Square in central Athens Greece with a backdrop of the parliament building to celebrate the anniversary of the Women’s March on Washington 2018 on Sunday, January 21st.
A handful of speakers made statements, read poetry and offered inspiration. Many participants wore black, showing solidarity for the #metoo movement. The march in Athens was co-organized by Democrats Abroad Women’s Caucus and the Women’s March Athens, an independent group of international and Greek residents.
Coming together across seven continents – and in Greece – participants took a stand for a world that is equitable, tolerant, just and safe for all; January 21st, marked the one-year anniversary of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington.
Last year, in the largest joint demonstration in history, women and men, of all backgrounds, ages, and races, came together, 5 million strong. The Women’s March on Washington became an organic groundswell the day after the 2016 election, when a grandmother in Hawaii proposed to 40 of her friends to go march in Washington, D.C. The issues they raised, however, were not limited to the US, and the idea quickly grew into a movement with “sister marches” across the US and around the world.
The march was a proactive international movement to defend women's rights and those of others in response to the rising rhetoric of far-right populism around the world. The march is committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion.
In Athens, the 2018 Women’s March began at 4 p.m. in Syntagma Square. The broad 2018 theme was “Look Back, March Ahead,” focusing on human rights. Globally, Democrats Abroad followed a theme of “March to the Ballot Box” and efforts to encourage Americans outside the US to register and vote.
Athens organizers decided on “Together We Rise” to emphasize the common interest Greeks and foreigners, women and men, have in a world in which the human rights and dignity of each person are protected and our planet is safe from destruction.
Karen Lee, Chairperson of DAGR, co-organizers of the march, said, “Blatant misogyny sent American women into the streets last year. This year, it’s determination that drives us. I think women everywhere have seen how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. But we’re awake now, we’re talking, engaging, informing ourselves. When women have full parity, others get it, too. So, today, we march in solidarity for human rights for all; tomorrow, we vote. And then we do it again the next year. We’re not going back.”
Maria Kostaki, of Women’s March Athens, said the local slogan, “‘Together we Rise,’ reminds everyone that it is up to us to do our part….and make our voices heard as one.”
Kostaki added, “Last year, shocked by what the election of Donald Trump meant for the world, I scrambled to organize the sister march of the Women’s March on Washington here in Athens. This year, I continue to participate because one single protest does not make a movement, it does not create change. The effort is ongoing, constant, even when we are not gathering in protest to voice our demands as humans. My aim is to get more of the Greeks to join us this year, as this is not about the United States, it’s about women’s rights, human rights, all over the world.”
Several speakers addressed the crowd on the steps of Constitution Square before they took the march to streets, chanting, waving banners and holding signs high in the air.
A vacancy in the office of the Treasurer for Democrats Abroad Greece (DAGR) in early November of 2017 mandated a special election. Members of DAGR were notified according to protocol of a special election, held electronically.
In early January, Nicholas Loisos, who has served as both a writer for articles published in DAGR’s newsletter, as well as IT aficionado for WebEx and any number of computer issues requiring expertise, easily waded into the office of Treasurer. Numbers and computing are his forte, so he was a natural.
Navigating numbers and his quest to finalize establishing a Greek bank account became priorities. To date, DAGR has an official bank account with Eurobank so that members can easily conduct financial transactions on-line or via the bank in person. This will make events so much more streamlined for all the members as payments can be made in advance for events as opposed to waiting in line to make a cash exchange. And receiving donations will be much more easily enabled!
Nick is a native of New York, a California voter but has lived, studied and worked in a variety of locales in the USA and Europe. He presently resides in Athens full-time.