How can an American expat oppose Trump?
February 16, 2017 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Like most people here, I'm aghast at what's been happening. Unlike many, I'm not in the US. I am still flailing about for how best to focus my energy.

The situation has been consuming me more than I would like, and I think a good part of that is that, though I'm a US citizen and all this is happening to a country I love, I'm not there. So a lot of the outlets that people in the US have to focus their energy don't work for me:

- I don't feel like calling congresspeople is effective. Even if I use Skype or Google voice, I have a clearly out-of-area number (or unlisted one) which given their paranoia about non-constituents calling in, I'm convinced they will just screen away as noise. Similarly with sending postcards; it has an Australia address (meaning it would be ignored) and would take weeks to deliver anyway. I can say I'm registered to vote in their region but why would they believe me? I seriously doubt they're looking up that information for everything they receive.

- Any local charity or things I can do in person will apply to people in Australia. Which, while good to do, doesn't affect the e.g. people hurt by the immigration ban / lack of social services / other effects of Trump's policies. That is what I am most agonised about and what will make me feel like I'm doing something in some small way to fight back.

- I can't march or protest. I mean, I'll be part of a local March for Science here, which will be good, but it (appropriately) won't be about Trump and the Republican administration, and that's what I really want to protest.

The only thing it seems I am capable of doing is throwing money at the problem by donating to things like the ACLU or the SPLC. I'm doing some of that, but I'm not made of money, and more to the point it isn't filling the psychological need I have to DO SOMETHING. I need something that involves more than just clicking a few boxes or ranting on Facebook, something that feels like actually doing something. I don't have loads of time but I have some, and I am willing, but I just can't think of anything.

posted by forza to Law & Government (22 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Other advantages I have: I'm a scientist and a good writer, as well as a decent coder (but not fabulous) so I could put together webpages or host files or that sort of thing... but I can't figure out how that would be useful.
posted by forza at 5:17 PM on February 16, 2017

I do think it makes a difference to donate to the people waging the fight here. I stepped it up for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU and immigrant rights groups already.

Also, tweet and, if you are on Facebook, post there.

Also, sign online petitions. They can be surprisingly effective.

Most of all, stay informed and in the loop about what is being done to fight back.
posted by bearwife at 5:21 PM on February 16, 2017

You could find an Indivisible group where you are registered to vote (or, really, anywhere) and contact the organizers to see if they could use your help. Some areas that you might be able to help with are: research, creating/updating websites, writing letters to the editor or press releases, and basic organization help.
posted by mcduff at 5:35 PM on February 16, 2017

I hear you. I'm also an expat, well at least for the next 7 months, and I have actually called my congresspeople, via skype. I did tell them I was a constituent but I don't know if they notice that the number is out of area (Indeed, it would be sort of stupid of them to disregard out of area numbers anyhow, given how many people in the US are cell-phone-only and have a non-local area code).

I don't have the time right now so I haven't looked into it, but perhaps you could volunteer to do coding work for a particular organization? As an example, KnockEveryDoor does need volunteers that can't knock doors. Maybe SheShouldRun could use website help?

Perhaps sign up for groups local to your voting address in the US, and see what you can do there; the Women's march spawned a bunch of local groups, Indivisible has plenty, and I bet Mefites can list several for you if you tell us what state. They can be a good way to keep tabs on local news, and they might need crisp websites or data processing or whatnot.

Another option is Democrats Abroad. Consider going to a meeting if there's one local to you in Aus, and finding out what other people's strategies are.
posted by nat at 5:35 PM on February 16, 2017

These are good suggestions so far, thanks! FYI, I'm registered to vote in Western Colorado.
posted by forza at 5:38 PM on February 16, 2017

Oh, another thing I thought of but haven't tried myself, is getting in touch with local refugee programs. It's a global need, and the US failing to carry its weight is burdening everyone else.
posted by nat at 5:39 PM on February 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Democrats Abroad have been in touch with me; meMail me and I can forward some emails about volunteering.
posted by jrobin276 at 5:39 PM on February 16, 2017

The folks in Australia that organised the Women's Marches here are doing some follow-up work - the one I'm involved in has a mix of US expats and Australians. MeMail me with your location and I can put you in touch.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 5:43 PM on February 16, 2017

Yeah, I don't know how plugged into the US expat community you are, but I know of a lot of expats who have banded together to organize. A friend of mine who is in Madrid has organized a local Women's March group of US expats and they had a postcard-writing event recently, the results of which they shipped to America in bulk via courier. Return address means nothing - you are a voting citizen!

So I would start with other expats, as mentioned by jrobin276 and une_heure_pleine above.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:49 PM on February 16, 2017

Calling your reps actually does do a lot. Many, many people are calling from out of area for all kinds of reasons. Congress has reported a huge swell of calls coming through ever since 45 took office and it hasn't died down. I know it feels futile sometimes but it really really is not.

Online petitions are pretty much a waste of time though.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:27 PM on February 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I went to an Indivisible meeting where they said that if you can't phone in, then email. They count the emails. They count phone calls; the more phone calls and emails they get about a subject, the more inclined they are to fight.
posted by gt2 at 9:34 PM on February 16, 2017

Trump got elected because he got through to a significant proportion of the electorate, who still think he's amazing.

One thing you can do is outreach - talk to your relatives who voted Trump, and work on them gradually into realising why he's such a bad idea. Don't go all shouty shouty on them, because that'll turn them off instantly. And keep calm at all times.

If you can do that, you're a better person than I...
posted by almostwitty at 1:52 AM on February 17, 2017

Seconding Democrats Abroad.

When calling your rep, start out by saying "I am a US citizen abroad who is registered to vote in your district/state." Even better if you can say you voted for them and why, though not everyone is so lucky.

I've been in France for 20 years now and my rep and senators still reply to my emails. I like to point out things that are visible internationally as it adds a perspective they won't necessarily have in-state. My rep has said it makes a difference.

Also nthing talk to people. Again, I've been living outside the US for 20 years now so I have the observational experience to confirm that it does indeed help. Not with everyone, but we are human.
posted by fraula at 1:58 AM on February 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

In addition to supporting groups like the ACLU, you can support the newspapers. I signed up for an online subscription to the New York Times, and I'm contemplating doing the same thing for the Washington Post. This Trump presidency is making it clearer to me than it has ever been before why we need a free, independent press.
posted by colfax at 3:02 AM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm a fellow expat. I saw this guide for contacting your congressman on Facebook, written by a former congressional staffer. I asked him whether my calls to my representatives would be discounted because I use Google Voice, so the area code would be from another state. Here's his answer:
"I live abroad too! I use google voice so it shows as a US number. Area code doesn't matter so long as you have a zip and can give an address if asked. That's all they need - there's lots of people now thanks to cell phones with mismatched area codes. Regarding emailing - my office DID consider emails as important... but we served a state of 600,000 so we had the manpower to batch responses to every email and call we received. Calls definitely make more of an impact because they are far more visible to the office. They can ignore email but not the phones."
In terms of figuring out what to actually call about, I've found Five Calls to be helpful in narrowing down an endless torrent of madness into a few specific issues that I can take concrete action on.
posted by yankeefog at 5:38 AM on February 17, 2017

Democrats Abroad where I am is a toxic stew of Berniebros and Jill Stein people constantly relitigating the primaries on FB, so not much there for me. Hope your local is better. I keep faxing / emailing / tweeting with fraula's "I am a US citizen abroad who is registered to vote in your district/state." The Indivisible guide is all about local organization to sway MOCs, and I think that is right.

But, I've been thinking is it worth starting country-based Indivisible groups to be ready for when DJT comes to town? I expect there will be plenty of local protest in Oz anyway, but having local American voters protesting in some visible way and available to the press? Can't wait until DJT takes his dominance tricks on the road to Tokyo to stick it to Japan since he seems to be stuck in the 80's mentally. Or to just hang with his bud, Shinzo.

I'm stuck voting in CA-14 which is solid blue. So, I decided for the next few years I was going to adopt Texas as my political home. Gives me a focus. And, fuck (Not a real Ted) Cruz. Donated to Battleground Texas. I can donate, but I'm not made of money, but I get your need to "do something." Picking out a specific donation goal or area is good and makes it feel more active to me than generic causes. And, I've been contacting Castro to run and trying to educate myself. If I can figure out how to donate directly to the Texas NAACP, I will.
posted by Gotanda at 6:01 AM on February 17, 2017

Another expat abroad--wanted to chime in and empathize. It is a funny sort of privilege to be so far away and want to be closer to protest. I have been feeling pretty impotent here in the UK.

I agree with others that calling and emailing are still worthwhile--especially if you are registered in CO! I would just be certain to identify yourself as a voting citizen currently abroad, as suggested above. There is also a way to send faxes from the internet for free here. They have links to the numbers for congress for ease of faxing!

I am also not made of money so can't donate, unfortunately. I think that writing and science-ing are great skills to have--I wonder if you can get a column going on Medium or HuffPo, or op-eds in your local (AUS/US) newspapers? Might be worth a shot, and might give you an outlet broader than Facebook.

Finally, if you haven't already joined, there is a group on Facebook called American Expats for Positive Change, where lots of US expats have created communities of resistance all over the world. Lots host in-person gatherings, which might be a refreshing way to connect and get some work done (letter writing campaigns, etc.).
posted by stillmoving at 6:57 AM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've also pondered this question. I am in Puerto Rico which is not exactly ex-pat, but has no voting representation in the Congress. More than that, we have a culture of being ignored (at best) or mistreated (often) by the United States mainland.

So, what have I done? I don't know if it is the best option, but being a scientist and author, I've been fighting the fight by putting together blog pieces, many of which have included data analysis or synthesizing a scientific argument. These have included attacking the roots of white supremacy and racism, and posts directly going after Trump's lies and his racism. (e.g., Trump; e.g., scientific argument)

These typically have between 200 and 2000 views. I don't know if its the best use of my time but I feel like I'm fighting the good fight.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:05 AM on February 17, 2017

I am also an American expat, and I asked a related question that may be of use to you. Based on the answers I changed my approach to lobbying.

I don't feel like calling congresspeople is effective. Even if I use Skype or Google voice, I have a clearly out-of-area number (or unlisted one) which given their paranoia about non-constituents calling in, I'm convinced they will just screen away as noise.

They do not. I call and say I am a registered voter in X county and give my registered ZIP (and address) if asked. I do not say I am registered to vote on postal ballots from abroad.

Similarly with sending postcards; it has an Australia address (meaning it would be ignored) and would take weeks to deliver anyway.

See thread. Do not send postcards. DO fax your congresscritter or fax your Senators or email. The geographic origination is not an issue with the faxes, and I really don't think it is with email either as they are basically tallying by subject line.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:24 AM on February 17, 2017

Maybe start pushing Australia to accept American refugees? I'm not even kidding. A lot of us are considering when is the appropriate time to leave the country, and it might be nice to have a country that would take us when we got to that point.
posted by corb at 11:14 AM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

If his products are imported to or manufactures in the country you are in you could and should work to decrease the value of his empire. Same with anything you can do to make his real estate holdings less attractive to folks.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:32 PM on February 17, 2017

This is very great. Tremendous. We'll show all the losers and the haters, bigly. We'll have to win tremendously big with all these awesome ideas.

Seriously I am very grateful, thanks so much!
posted by forza at 2:39 AM on February 18, 2017

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