When Jennifer von Estorff and Teresa Ritterhoff began looking at a Texas state team last spring, little did they know how crucial it would become. Now, with TX’s anti-choice law riddled with illegalities, a voter suppression law worst among more to come, TX is in the spotlight. And, the Dems Abroad ‘states teams’ idea has taken off.
As co-coordinators, Jen and Teresa are helping other state teams get up and running. Kick off events -- online for worldwide join-in – are filling in the fall calendar.
The idea of state-specific outreach isn’t new in DA. There have been state groups on Facebook, with varying levels of energy and activity, since 2012. They’re still there, a platform to share news and views. Just type in your state’s moniker with ‘abroad’ after it, e.g. Californians Abroad.
States teams, however, will focus on state-specific issues while building co-operation between activists in the home state and abroad.
2022 brings states to the forefront! Here’s why:
- Because elections happen every 2 years!
We all get excited about the Presidential elections. Fewer abroad voters come out for House and Senate elections in between. These are also federal elections, and we have the right to vote in them! Laws vary about voting for state and local offices and issues. We can find out the details by clicking on our state in the VoteFromAbroad.org home page.
- Because “Build Back Better” depends on Dems in House and Senate
The Biden-Harris platform is set to make changes all American voters can see and feel. But it doesn’t mean a damned thing if it isn’t passed into law! Americans are waiting to see what we’ll enact. And we need stronger majorities in both houses to overcome solid Republican opposition and one or two of our own notorious ‘foot draggers.’ If voters think they can’t count on Dems to pass our programs, they might just decide Trump is good for another term in 2024. Our votes in the 2022 midterms count!
- Because Gerrymandering steals our votes
In the US system, the states manage elections and draw legislative districts. When this is done fairly, most of us get the representative we want. When districts are gerrymandered – drawn to benefit one party or to dilute the vote of certain groups – our officials may not actually represent the majority. And since the Electoral College is based on Congressional districts, we can, and have, end up with a President who lost the popular vote. Some states now have non-partisan boards to draw districts. A lot still don’t. And districts are being redrawn right now! Based on the recent national census. We may not see improvements everywhere, and the only way to overcome a gerrymandered district is to get masses of voters (ours) to the polls.
- Because we care about our friends and family at home!
Most of us have friends and family back home. Their joys and worries are ours. If their taxes are unfair, if they can’t afford healthcare, if their kids are bullied at school … whatever. Those are our worries, too.
Our home state’s climate problem may well be ours. The smoke drifted from California to the Midwest this year, from Evvoia to Athens and on to Crete. The flash floods hit many US states as well as Europe and Asia. New Jersey is shrinking as sea levels rise. So are Greek islands. We have common cause to correct the practices that cause planetary degradation and to remove the politicians who fail to act on it.
- Because, yes, we even care about ourselves
If we have income from the US, we may pay state income taxes. If we own property in the US, we pay county taxes. Can we vote for that bond issue or school levy? Are we happy conservative politicians give our public money to private charter schools? If our kids were born outside the US, does our home state recognize them as citizens? If we want them to attend our alma mater, XSU, can we get them in there? Should we go back, can we get health care without paying twice? Our personal concerns may be decided at the home state level. Perhaps we ought to make sure the right politicians are elected to office!
Contrary to what we see in the newsfeeds that flood our monitors, there are a lot of very bright, very committed people in our home states who are grappling with governance and electoral issues. Some like League of Women Voters and the Indivisible group are non-partisan. Some are local and state Democratic parties, or groups aligned with Democrats.
We can help the home state.
Many have robust door-knocking and postcard campaigns. Some have calling campaigns we can join even from abroad. If we want to help get out the vote at home, it behooves us to make contact and know what the home-side issues are!
The home state folks can help us.
Even home-state activists may be unaware of the particular issues we have, living abroad. They’ve probably never even heard of FATCA and FBAR. Or issues getting citizenship for kids born abroad. Our lack of access to Medicare we’ve paid into. Or the restrictions some states put on our voting rights, the delays and hassles we confront when Louis DeJoy tries to starve the US Postal Service. And more. But they’d love to know and help do something about it.
- Check out the States Teams landing page, soon to go up on the Democrats Abroad website!
- If you want to help actively, join up.
- If you can’t join up now but have contact with activist groups and individuals in your home state, let your state team know.
Together we have power!