This year representatives of Australia attended the Democrats Abroad (Democratic Party Committee Abroad - DPCA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Tokyo, Japan. Representing the DA Australia ExCom were myself, Ritu Clementi (online, via WebEx) and Justin Underwood (DAA Canberra Chair and proxy for Ritu).
This is a crucial year not only to take back Congress and the Senate, but one in which we are fighting for the soul of our country.
I am very pleased that this year’s AGM went beyond just “resistance” to the Trump agenda. We pushed for the Democratic agenda to be bold and attract members back to the party. This was highlighted in speakers such as Will Hailer, Senior Advisor to Tom Perez and Ken Martin, President of the State Democratic Chairs. It was clear that in the age of Trump, we must do more than just “be” Democrats. We must go out and have challenging conversations and be bold to push ourselves and our party beyond our comfort zone.
At an all DA dinner on Saturday night, Michael Blake, Vice Chair of the DNC, gave a very impassioned and energetic speech in a call to action. He stated that we should be less triggered by the awfulness of what Trump says on Twitter and instead find the key issues that bind us as Democrats and use these to vote in the people we want, a sentiment I deeply share.
This is why in addition to representing Australia, I advocated for the newly formed Progressive Caucus (ProDA) specifically about the forthcoming Healthcare Stories pamphlet to be shared with Congressional staff in support of Medicare for All. By all expert accounts, Healthcare will be an organising rally for GOTV this year and you will soon see what DA Global will produce to affect this end. DA Australia and ProDA were and will be instrumental in this effort--watch this space.
In addition to these rallying cries, the AGM was filled with training and positive reports on GOTV efforts, Study Abroad organisation, fundraising, Residency Based Taxation campaign, training on social media, event training, the forthcoming revamped Vote From Abroad website (hint: it includes a digital signature and automatic email sending!), and reports from all Caucuses. This AGM certainly kept everyone’s attention with training sessions and Caucus reports in between the politics of voting on Resolutions and Charter Amendments.
On that note, the AGM voted on and passed several resolutions including the campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), campaign for Residency Based Taxation and more. The AGM did not have enough time to complete the full slate of proposed Charter Amendments however those that were discussed were:
- Providing for leadership diversity based on a more inclusive definition of “sex”: Passed. This allowed for intersex and other classifications of sex or gender that are non-binary. (I would like to add personally how proud I felt to be in this organisation as this was debated extensively between the basis of ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ and how thoroughly differing opinions stated their case in civility and respect to opposing views;
- 1 Person 1 Vote: Passed. This was debated mainly on period of vote allocation (biennial vote allocation) and concern about vote allocation by Country Committees.
It is worth noting that the Charter Amendments concerning Vote Allocation, ExCom Expansion, ExCom Diversity and Gender (Sex) Balance unfortunately did not have time to be debated and voted upon.
Beyond this, I personally took every opportunity to network and meet with Country Committee ExComs and Caucuses to share stories and strategies about how we take our country back. Having personally organised the all-Caucus meet-up on Thursday night before the AGM, it was a great opportunity to meet with DA representatives all over the world.
An overwhelming theme of the AGM was that it always seems to be that a handful of volunteers shoulder the most work--if you are reading and looking for a way to help, read on.
One thing is clear, we need to GOTV and make phone calls. I have requested nearly 2 months ago that a phone campaign call list be created for our DAA members who have not yet used VFA to request a ballot. This means that you will, very soon, be able to call other DA Australia members and remind them to vote! Stay tuned, I will be letting members know via email as soon as this is delivered. You may always contact me if you are curious about this and I will be sure to follow up personally.
Last but not least, the AGM in Japan went off without a hitch. DA Japan is an incredible team and they worked their donkey’s off to make this happen. This volunteer group is an amazing one and wish that our members could meet theirs, I think there would be lasting friendships - I certainly walked away with many.
This AGM was an overall incredible experience. This is not about the past, it is about the future. It was clear that all of must look forward and be bold, get uncomfortable and challenge ourselves if we indeed are going to get rid of Trump and get rid of the conditions which created him.
I look forward to the rest of this year and welcome its challenges with hope and resolve.
Chair, DA Australia
AP Regional Chair, Progressive Caucus of DA