EMEA Regional Vice Chair - Will Bakker - Democrats Abroad

Name:                          Will Bakker

Member since:             2009

Residence:                    Luxembourg

Biography: 

I helped organize the part-time faculty at a large community college, served as president of the resulting union, and negotiated the establishment and implementation of our first contract. I also served on the board for our federation's PAC and a local teachers' PAC.

I have eight years of teaching experience at various levels in higher-education. I am presently an EducationUSA Advisor, which I do not believe is relevant experience to my role in Democrats Abroad.

Since 2010 I have volunteered nearly full time with Democrats Abroad. I have been heavily involved in Democrats Abroad Luxembourg, serving in various roles and just completing my second term as chair. In my opinion, there is no substitute for direct experience as an engaged officer in a country committee or large chapter due to the number and diversity of duties and concerns addressed at that level of DA.

 

Describe your volunteer work with DA and cite your greatest DA accomplishment. 

In 2009, I was appointed Secretary of the DPCA Resolutions Committee. In 2013, I was elected International Secretary. I have served on a variety of global committees including GOTV during midterm elections, Voting Rights, DPCA Bylaws, and Affirmative Action for the DSP, and I continue on the Resolutions Committee. As Regional Vice Chair since 2017, I supported Country Committees and other groups of members across our region.

My role in the 2016 Global Presidential Primary was my greatest accomplishment -- leading a remarkable team that wrote the book on how Voting Centers and remote ballots worked. We provided troubleshooting, support, and difficult judgment calls all the way through the selection of delegates. I am proud of the integrity of our primary and how many people encountered DA for the first time that way.

Why are you running for this office? 

I want to keep working in this role because of the inspiring leaders all over our region. I enjoy supporting the events and projects started by the many volunteers who are so generous with their time, energy, and donations. The work of starting new groups and energizing new volunteers is rewarding. It is also work for the long term and I feel a personal imperative to continue backing Democrats who are building real communities from scratch.

Broadly, I believe DA is the best way I can fight for the ideals that make me proud to be an American. The global Executive Committee is an outstanding team with a clear vision to win elections and empower US citizens living abroad. We have a shared vision for the long term too. I want to be part of the team for the Global Presidential Primary, the victories of November 2020, and the continuing transformation of the Democratic Party.

I know that there are things I can do better in the next two years than I did in the last two. Those things also motivate me to run for a second term. I'm not done and I'd be honored for the chance to continue.

How will your skill sets and experience contribute to DA’s success? 

I am a teacher by disposition, but I have always seen myself as a fellow learner rather than a lecturer imparting knowledge. I find the most fulfilling and easiest part of the RVC role to be learning continuously about the great work and innovations happening all over DA, and then conveying what I learned to my fellow leaders throughout the organization, in a way that fits each one's circumstances.

Are there any DA organizational or practical issues (not political goals) that you would like to address, should you be elected?

Democrats Abroad has a long history of adaptation and flexibility to meet the changing needs and demographics of Americans abroad, as well as the changing expectations of our volunteers and elected leaders. Our organization is marked by openness to new ideas and approaches, in part because we are driven hard by the knowledge that there is so much work to be done.

This culture comes with costs, including technicalities of our org chart, fair hearings for new proposals, and a lot of energy spent on disagreements over internal structures, The issue that weighs on my mind is whether that energy stimulates dedication and vitality in fulfilling our core mission -- or distracts from it.

I don't have the answer on my own, which is why I find it reassuring to work with colleagues on the International Executive Committee who see the importance of this issue and how it affects the day-to-day decisions we make.

What are three pressing political issues that you would work to include in the DA 2020 Platform and why?

I believe the DA 2016 Platform aged very well, in part due to the extraordinarily participative process facilitated by the hard work and talents of volunteers. It has been a pillar of DA's progressive bona fides. As RVC, I would work as a facilitator rather than advocating particular planks. I would also continue to transform the role of the Platform in the context of DA's general directives against making comments on US foreign policy.

As a member of DA, I would work to include more aggressive policies related to climate change and link those policies with systematic flaws in the economic and political conditions of the USA. The Green New Deal is an encouraging example of this.

I would also work to ensure that DA uses plain and accurate language in what we consider the grave threats to our country's ideals and well-being: routine promotion of bigotry and cruelty by mainstream officials and the widespread denial of fundamental human rights in word and deed.

We must renew our commitment to Black Lives Matter; this broad movement must not be relegated, because it is inherent to almost every plank of the platform, especially as it implicates all Americans intersectionally.

How can Democrats Abroad best raise our profile among American voters abroad and better work to elect Democrats?

The profile of Democrats Abroad expands tenfold at least every four years, when we run a Global Presidential Primary with great integrity and accuracy -- but without support from a state government or even from the rest of our party. The demands of that primary are worthwhile because Americans living abroad come to us to vote in massive numbers. 

During the Global Presidential Primary, our profile to Americans worldwide is Democrats Abroad is open, exciting, responsive, fair, and competent. We already stretch ourselves to run the primary. I want to help DA seize the opportunity to reach far beyond our members and take advantage of this extraordinary chance to make a lasting impression on every person who hears about our primary -- that even a small act as an American abroad is meaningful in American politics.

External links

I did not set up an external campaign site. As a currently serving regional officer, I would rather not associate my personal presences on social media with Democrats Abroad, in order to observe the letter and the spirit of DA's Code of Conduct and to preserve the integrity of DA's Delegate Selection Plan.

I am happy to share links to my personal accounts upon the request of any fellow Democrat.