This is an English-language version of an op-ed article originally published in Swedish on etc.se. To read the original, click here.
There may be nothing more American than the debate about what the United States stands for. The country has had its share of flaws, while also continuing on a remarkable path of long-term progress. That progress has often been a struggle and suffered deep setbacks, like those we are experiencing just a month into the Trump administration. But we have regrouped and begun to organize to defend liberal democracy and our values.
The setbacks remind us that progress is not inevitable, and does not just happen naturally. Instead, progress is actively built by involved citizens, both by those in the United States and also by the millions of Americans who live abroad, many of them here in Sweden.
At the ballot box, through civil society, and by organizing politically, Americans are engaged in what President Barack Obama called the “hard and frustrating and necessary work of self-government”. Since Donald Trump’s election victory, in which he lost the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes, we have seen the sheer power of what happens when the American civil society kicks into action to protect liberal democracy.
Organizations dedicated to protecting civil rights in the United States like the American Civil Liberties Union have raised unprecedented funds, while millions have demonstrated for what they believe in, and become engaged in the political process. Democrats Abroad, the official overseas arm of the Democratic Party, has signed up thousands of new members and volunteers, including here in Sweden.
On the day after Trump’s inauguration, more than 150 members of Democrats Abroad demonstrated on Medborgarplatsen in Stockholm (Photo: Democrats Abroad Sweden)
Trump’s ban on travel from a number of Muslim majority countries is unconstitutional and contrary to international law. Because it was originally conceived as a ban on all people of one of the world’s major religions, it is also deeply un-American. Even though it has now been halted by the courts, the Trump administration continues to defend it on the spurious grounds that it will keep the country safe. Now he has announced that he wants to deport millions of migrants, even those who have already become an integral part of American society.
We refuse to simply accept that. On the day after Trump’s inauguration, more than 150 members of Democrats Abroad demonstrated on Medborgarplatsen in Stockholm. When the travel ban was announced, many Americans in Sweden sprang into action. Democrats Abroad volunteers lined up to say they were ready to help those affected, and others went to work organizing legal support, lighting up the phone lines of their elected representatives, and recruiting friends and family to find ways to fight back. Similar stories have poured in from around the world.
That is how Donald Trump’s vision of America will be resisted. But the way we will turn the country toward progress again is through the electoral process, beginning with the midterm elections in 2018. That is why right now Democrats Abroad is organizing citizens and dual-citizens who live in Sweden to help them register to vote, get engaged with the political process, and shape the future of the Democratic Party.
Trump does not determine what America stands for. We will continue to fight for an America that is open, tolerant, and just. Nothing is more American than that.
By Alex Lange, Democrats Abroad Sweden, Stockholm Chapter Chair