Our post–election planning event was held in the beautiful environs of the Shaw Library at the London School of Economics. Award winning journalist Faisal Al Yafai was kind enough to moderate it for us, and Former State Department Staff member Ted Nist was on hand to give us some insights into the policy process from an administration point of view – a hearty thanks to both of them for their thoughtful contributions.
The major talking point for this meeting was to think about and explore the future of this group in the post-election period. It was universally agreed that the entire group was happy to be members or, and work frequently with and through Democrats Abroad wherever possible. On the other hand, it was also felt that there was an advantage in maintaining an organisation separate from the direct Party hierarchy so that we have the freedom to campaign on specific issues where the Party must remain neutral.
A number of good ideas were suggested that the group might take forward in the next few months.
* To create a lively and interactive blog that will inform our members and serve as a marketing tool to “sell” the policy perspective of American Obama Supporters abroad.
* To create a service project aimed at sponsoring or encouraging foreign travel or life abroad for young Americans who might otherwise not have the oppportunity.
* To create an organisation – “Americans Abroad For Healthcare at Home” – aimed at sharing first person accounts of life under a universal health care scheme, with the goal of influencing both policy makers and the general public.
* To conduct a detailed census or survey to understand the skills, attributes and experience of our members, and their goals and priorities.
* To lobby Congress and the states to make voting easier for Americans Abroad in future elections.
IMPORTANT: Please fill out this survey to indicate your level of interest in each of these suggestions.
Ted pointed out that the US embassy can be a valuable source of dialog with the Administration, and it was suggested that we consider requesting a meeting with the new ambassador when he is appointed to share our unique perspective.
In addition, he felt that our experience as Americans living under a nationalised healthcare system would indeed be a valuable perspective for Tom Daschle, our new Secretary of Health and Human Services, to use as he tries to move America towards a more efficient and fair system. We might consider putting together a research document to collect these first hand accounts.
In general it was agreed that the group is unified in being supporters of President-Elect Obama – therefore while there may be areas where we occassionally disagree with his Administration, or even each other, out goal will always be to play a constructive role in both policy consultations and the implementation of this agenda. To the extent that we have an unusual view of American politics, being a group of Americans Abroad, we will also look for opportunities and issues where that perspective is likely to give make us credible commentators.
In general, however, we all agree that we want to stay active and engaged past inauguration day and to play a first hand role in delivering the change that we need, and for which we have all worked out tails off.
2009 should be quite a year!