Volunteers of America: Democrats Abroad are joining the resistance movement
Nicholas Kamm (AFP)
Votes from Democrats living outside the United States could have defeated US President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, according to Orlando Vidal, an executive committee member of the Democrats Abroad, the official arm of the US Democratic Party for citizens living abroad.
Vidal formerly served as Chairman of the UAE branch of the organization and resides in Dubai.
"Votes from abroad would have made the difference this time around," he stated during an annual meeting of the Israeli branch of Democrats Abroad in Tel Aviv-Jaffa on Wednesday.
Vidal explained that "Trump won these four states: Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. We are about 9 million (Americans living abroad), we had the votes to defeat Trump in those states."
"If we could identify those residents living abroad and get them to vote," Vidal said,"we could defeat Trump."
"Senator Al Franken from Minnesota for example, won his first elections from just a few votes and he attributes his win to votes from abroad," Vidal said, asserting that there are many similar examples.
Expatriates have proven their ability to make a difference in the past, notably when 537 absentee ballots in Florida swayed the 2000 presidential election winning George H.W. Bush the presidency.
Democrats Abroad has 41 country committees throughout Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Asia with voters from every congressional district and state in the US.
The organization is considered a "state" party by the Democratic National Committee and is represented by eight voting DNC members.
The group aims at streamlining the process for voting from abroad.
Vidal affirmed that the Trump presidency will have very serious repercussions for the entire world and that "the Democratic party will always be pro-Israel."
According to Vidal, citizens who seek to oppose Trump's policies should identify Americans abroad and help them register to vote.
"That is painstaking, difficult and not initially very rewarding work" Vidal said, "but absolutely very necessary."
Vidal thinks American expats have a key role to play in affecting change in the United States.
"We must find a way to get through to everyone including those people in the US who voted for Trump," Vidal said.
"We must be able to speak to them and understand their concerns and explain its in their best interest to vote Democratic."
Channeling the resistance
Israeli journalist and US correspondent for the Haaretz daily newspaper Chemi Shalev addressed the group explaining that the Trump Presidency has awakened a resistance movement that inspires optimism and hope for change.
Shalev described walking out onto the streets of New York the day after the election to find hundreds of angry college students taking to the streets in protest.
He recalled marching with them in solidarity as they made their way to Trump Tower.
The Israeli branch of Democrats Abroad announced the election of its new board members on Wednesday, in what it calls a "reboot" of the organization.
Newly appointed Chairwoman of the organization Heather Stone affirmed that the best way to make a difference is to motivate Americans abroad to vote.
The grassroots "resistance" movement in the US has motivated many people who have not been politically active before, Stone said.
"Attending a march or rally, or sending postcards or calling your legislators isn't going to really impact the process, unless we succeed in getting these motivated people to register to vote, and get them out to vote in each and every election."
Stone stated that Democrats Abroad Israel will be working to educate Americans in Israel about what political action they can take to resist US policies they disagree with.
"We are excited about the Democratic platform, which is the most progressive platform ever," Stone said.
"We know there are many Americans in Israel who have never participated in the US electoral process, including US citizens born in Israel. We hope to find them and expose them to the progressive policies of the Democratic Party."
"If this election shows something" Vidal said, "it's that we need everyone's help."
Emily Rose is a journalist and breaking news editor at i24NEWS
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OBAMA BLOCKED THE MILITARY VOTE So, why aren’t soldiers voting? In many cases they simply can’t, and they have their commander in chief, President Obama, to blame. Hundreds of thousands of our uniformed personnel have been shut out of the process, and we can thank the Obama administration and even the Obama campaign for this tragedy. After poor turnout in 2008, Congress passed the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (Move) Act to ensure that all military are provided with the opportunity to vote, OBAMA REFUSES TO FUND IT .The Obama administration should be prosecuted for knowingly and willingly violating the Move Act, as well as the Voting Rights Act. While selectively choosing not to fund this law, Obama and his Department of Justice have at the same time been on a crusade suing states with voter-identification laws, accusing them of “voter suppression” and promoting funding illegal immigrates right to vote.