Democrats Abroad Austria
Vienna Circle: Jun. 2012
“Voter registration’s over here,” a bright voice chimes through Pickwicks on Marc-Aurel-Straße. We were at the voting party for the Democratic Primary, which was not especially exciting with an uncontested Barack Obama. But still, it’s part of the “use it or lose it” U.S. democratic process.
Some Americans at the event had not voted in years; others, like 18-year-old Julian, were voting for the first time. Many Americans don’t take advantage of the opportunity to vote away from home, and this is where Democrats Abroad sees its purpose.
“Our mission is two-fold,” DAA Chair Katie Solon told The Vienna Review. “We help overseas U.S. citizens register to vote, receive and cast their ballot, and we want to help elect Democrats.” In 2012, the organisation’s goal is to help “re-elect the President, keep the Senate, and regain a Democrat majority in the House of Representatives.”
Besides the one paid Chairperson in Washington D.C., everyone working for Democrats Abroad is a volunteer, and members can use DAA to whatever extent makes sense for them. “Mostly people become members to get help for voter registration,” Solon said, “but some people also want to be more politically active.”
After the State of the Union Address in January, DAA organized a post-viewing round at Café Museum. Alongside Melange, Spritzer and Apfelstrudel, DAA members got a chance to feel involved as an American.
Over the years, Democrats Abroad has grown from two small groups in London and Paris in 1964 to include committees throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
“In 2003 and 2004, the membership doubled in size from 16 to around 32 committees, mostly because of the anti-Bush sentiment,” Solon explained. “In 2008, for the Obama and Clinton primaries, more people registered to vote through Democrats Abroad than ever before.” Now there are a total of 55 country committees.
In June and July, a Democrats Abroad bus will circulate around Europe to promote U.S. voter registration (See TVR Special Events, page 23). There will also be a 4th of July Party (on 8 July) at Hermann Strandbar.
On 18 Sept., there is a benefit concert, “Swingin’ for Obama”, at the Metropol. Expect soul, jazz and country – performed by Carole Alston, Eddie Cole, Joey Green, J. Rueben Silverbird, “Big John” Whitfield, and more. U.S. citizens can get tickets through DAA by making a donation of at least $44 to the Obama campaign.
Politics can be serious stuff, but Democrats Abroad events seem to say that being passionate about politics doesn’t mean being angry. It means being involved.