Issues & Actions
ExComm Dates for August and September
Our Executive Committee meetings are normally at 7pm on the second Wednesday of the month. However, due to summer travels the September meeting will be moved:
Members are welcome to join us at the meetings. Please contact Jennifer at [email protected] for the location.
We were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates is an award-winning collection of powerful essays and articles written during the Obama era that thoughtfully examine the issues of race that are still prevalent in the US today. Come join us!
– Faith Hall-Herbold, Black Caucus Coordinator and Member at Large
It's debate time! Join us as we get together to watch and discuss the second round of debates.
– Jennifer Rakow-Stepper, Chair
Experienced Dems is on a "Sommer Pause." We will meet again in September and I look forward to seeing each of you at that time.
–John Cahill, Experienced Dems Coordinator
Solidarity Sundays is tanking energy and will be back on September 29th!
– Tanya Lolonis & Juan Cerda, SolSun Co-Coordinators
Issues & Actions:
The Difference You Make
There is exciting news from the latest Election Assistance Commission survey results for the 2018 mid-term elections. While there is still some analysis to be done, it really looks like the turnout from overseas was THREE TIMES as high as in the last mid-term elections in 2014. This is an AMAZING result - an increase that far outstrips any stateside growth in voter turnout. Julia Bryan, DA International Chair, mentioned that Democrats Abroad and our efforts likely accounted for close to half of all voter turnout in 2018. I would only add that we probably directly impacted 50-75% of all DEMOCRATIC votes from overseas. I'll say it again. This is amazing - for a "state party" to have such a tremendous direct impact on voter turnout. Admittedly, this was a highly visible mid-term election. But this increase is a testament to the efforts of our leadership and our amazing volunteers. However, I would be remiss (or at least I think I would be remiss) if I didn't also mention the impact of money.
We spent well over $100,000 on GOTV activities in the last two months of the 2018 election. That money went towards a range of expenditures, but I will highlight two that played a big role in last year's amazing growth: funding for our CallHub phone-banking operations; and paying for social media advertising through Facebook ads that targeted overseas Americans and in particular "liberal" potential voters. These two elements, together with all the other great GOTV activities like voter registration booths, emails, and SMS-messaging, helped drive the incredible increase in voters. Volunteers help get out the vote. And money helps get out the vote. And we need both. So I would encourage all of you to donate what you can to Democrats Abroad - and encourage everyone you know, your members, your friends wherever they are, and your family to support us. There will be more to come as to how each of you can help - and more to come, I am sure, about the amazing 2018 results. But it's good to know that we really do make a difference.
– Art Schankler, DA Co-Chair Fundraising Committee
How Activists Spend Summer Break
It‘s summer. It‘s hot. Your brain is short-circuiting from a diet of Policy-by-Twitter. So much to react to, so much to save, so much to do. Democrats Abroad Austria and Solidarity Sundays urge you to use the summer months to retreat, relax, and re-charge. Come fall, we need you fit and focused: we have a democracy to take back. But activists (and who isn’t one after 2016?) are restless with nothing to do. We‘ve curated a small collection of articles, podcasts, and films to keep you engaged in the conversation of democracy. Check out one or two over the summer and keep your activist muscles limber.
At publication, there are twenty-three Democratic presidential candidates. Who are they? Why are they running? What do they bring to the fight for democracy? The political podcast “Pod Save America” is conducting in-depth interviews with each candidate. Download their “2020” interviews, plug in your earphones, and let candidates tell you the problems they identify in our democracy, their solutions, and why they think they can solve them. http://crooked.com/podcast-series/pod-save-america/
For an irreverent, savvy and informed unraveling of the mysteries of the Mueller investigation by a binder full of women, check out the Mueller She Wrote podcast.http://www.muellershewrote.com/
The New York Review of Books discusses important books as an indispensable literary activity. It`s also incisive on politics. For those who take holiday relaxation seriously and pack beach reads rather than political tomes, NYRB offers good discussions of key books—without having to read them (unless you want to):
Robert Mueller says his report speaks for itself. Read it yet? If 400+ pages is a slog on a holiday, here’s a novel way to take in all ten counts of obstruction: A live reading (one hour) of the Mueller Report by Hollywood stars: The Investigation: A Search for the Truth in Ten Acts. http://lawworksaction.org/
Cope with our current political climate with comedy. We can’t promise you‘ll forget about global warming, right-wing nationalists, misogyny, racism, and homophobia, but a few laughs can restore heart and sanity for the work ahead:
National populism: To Be or Not to Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942). Carole Lombard‘s final role is spent among a troupe of hilariously bad actors disguising themselves in order to mess with occupying Nazis in 1939 Poland.
Global warming: The Day After Tomorrow (Roland Emmerich, 2004). When this film came out, it was a far-off, apocalyptic flick. Now, it‘s a bit too real, but Dennis Quaid and a young Jake Gyllenhaal apply hotness to the battle of surviving climate change.
Donald Trump: Forbidden Planet (Fred M. Wilcox, 1956). Famous for being mentioned in the opening song of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and featuring a young and dashing Leslie Nielsen, re-watch this to remember that we are more powerful than any monster.
DAA Talks with Eric Frey –
A View of America and Journalism in the Age of Trump
It was a sweltering evening on June 4th when about 30 DA Austria members and friends gathered to hear Dr. Eric Frey, Senior Editor of der Standard, discuss his perspective on current issues in the US and Austria. After a thorough analysis of the upheavals in Austrian politics, Frey moved on to what he and many Europeans are hoping the Democrats will do to make sure Trump is a one-term president. Not surprisingly, the audience had many questions and a lively question and answer period followed.
Many thanks to Dr Frey for giving his time to speak with us!
–Jennifer Rakow-Stepper, Chair
We want to extend a big thank you to all those who joined the 2019 EuroPride Parade on June 15 in Vienna by marching and showing solidarity with DA Austria. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and we gathered together to show our support of LGBTQIA+ rights worldwide!
Our theme was “Love Trumps Hate” as well as “Make Love, Not Walls.” It was a blast and (not to forget) a great message! We saw much love and support from bystanders who approached us for photos, flags, and just loved seeing us out there resisting the hate and policies of the current administration.
Laura and I had the honor of planning this year’s march and we couldn’t be happier with the turn out! It was a great group of people, over 35 of all ages came out and endured the heat to show their pride together. It truly was beautiful and colorful! The “MAKE LOVE, NOT WALLS” t-shirts were a big hit, and if you would still like to get one we could make another order if we get enough people interested. Let us know.
We are especially excited and energised for next year. Plans are already in the making for a bigger, more colorful, louder, and progressive march! As always we are excited for anyone's ideas, contributions, or even help in making next year’s march a reality. You can reach us at [email protected] and [email protected]. Thanks again and stay proud!
– Joey Eckhart
A note from a member: Thank you Laura and Joey and everyone else who helped make Democrats Abroad Austria's participation in the Europride Parade 2019 so incredible. I'm sure many people invested countless hours and great effort before the parade even started. Consider just the t-shirts: drumming up a team, conceiving, discussing, designing, spreading the word, taking orders, placing the order, picking up the shirts, selling the shirts... but that's not all: participation registration, flyers, flags and buttons, stunning banners, signs, a cart of supplies, water spray bottles ... even refreshments and watermelon! As a gay man, I was very touched by the solidarity and support so many DA allies displayed for us LGBTIQA+ people! I had to dash off at 1:30 to get ready to sing a concert, but I left with a full heart. Thank you, Scott W.
Presidential Primary Debate Watch Parties, Round One
Fifteen or so DA Austria members got together each evening on Thursday, June 27 and Friday, June 28 to watch the first round of the 2020 presidential primary debates. And we weren’t alone! There were over 250 watch parties in the US and another 57 organised by Democrats Abroad around the world.
The way we win is by reaching voters and organizing everywhere. That is why we’re hosting these events – so that Americans around the world can hear firsthand from the candidates on their ideas for the American people. The lineups for each night were selected through a process that ensures no candidate begins the debate calendar at an immediate disadvantage because they've been relegated to a "kids table" debate. On the first night were: Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Tim Ryan, and Elizabeth Warren. The second night’s lineup was: Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Bernie Sanders, Eric Swalwell, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang.
All of the candidates attended our watch parties (see pictures). However, many candidates also accepted an invitation by Democrats Abroad and either came in person or sent a video to the Annual General Meeting that took place in May in Washington D.C. Listen to what they said to DA.
The two watch parties began with attendees trying to name all the candidates and sorting them into the two debate nights – there were many unknown’s! Then we listened carefully to what they had to say to help us learn about their positions on issues – and to fill out our buzzword bingo cards! Afterwards, there was lots of informal discussion about the candidates, both their positions and their performances.
The next watch parties will be held on July 31 and Aug 1, and September 13 & 14 (see events for details). Because of the time difference, the watch parties will always be the day after the debate. We hope you’ll join us!
–Jennifer Rakow-Stepper, Chair
Solidarity Sundays #25: The Green New Deal & You
Violent and frequent hurricanes. Record heat waves. Thousand-year floods. Devastating wildfires. Rising sea levels. Species decimation. Climate disruption is here, and scientists tell us we have 10 years to radically decarbonise to keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees. With the GOP in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry, Democrats are the only party discussing how to address our near-apocalyptic crisis. What are they proposing?
Faith Hall-Herbold took Solidarity Sundays attendees through the key points of the Green New Deal. As the name indicates, the GND is inspired by FDR’s New Deal which addressed the Great Depression. The document is short and radical – short on specific policies and radical in its policy aims. It calls on the US to: (1) enact a climate change action plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030; (2) re-structure the economy with cooperation between unions, communities, business, and government; and (3) ensure justice so that coal workers, rural communities, and people of color aren’t left behind during the transition.
A global climate strike, expanding beyond school children, has been called for 20 September 2019. It will be followed by a global week of action: http://globalclimatestrike.net. Details on how to participate as part of Democrats Abroad Austria will be in the September DA Newsletter.