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American Politics for the Expat Community

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Uncaged Birds

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Join me for the kick-off of our new monthly show when my special guest, Harolynne Bobis (Greece), will talk about American politics. Here's what Harolynne wants to share: So the big question facing American expatriates is should I vote in the midterm elections or should I just forget about it. Of course, the answer is “You should vote.” As American society becomes more and more polarized, the elections are closer and closer. And the last votes counted, and therefore the ones that count the most, are those of Uniformed Service and Overseas Civilian voters. Uniformed Service voters include all active duty military personnel, their spouses and their dependents, whether they are stationed within or without the United States. Overseas Civilians are all the rest of us. The Department of Defense is responsible for making sure that these two constituencies can vote. Military personnel first got the right to vote absentee during the Civil War. It took quite a bit longer for civilians who were not members of the Foreign Service apparatus. A quick anecdote – Several overseas citizen groups began campaigning for the right to vote absentee by attaching tea bags to letters to their members of Congress (but they didn’t call themselves Teabaggers). Their movement was finally successful during the presidency of Gerald Ford. A current member of the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, suggested that President Ford veto the legislation to protect against “voter fraud.” Thankfully, Senator Barry Goldwater convinced President Ford that he didn’t want to be the first president since Reconstruction to veto a voting rights act. Notice the pattern? The Civil War and the Voting Rights Act…As an African American woman, I have always felt that as long as people were dying for the right to vote, I had to participate – on their behalf, if not my own. So, let’s start talking about the Obama Administration and, politically, how we feel about it.

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