Brothers and Sisters in disaffection, I’ve gathered you here today to discuss a matter of great contention…
**pause for groans of protest**
The phrase alone is enough to wrench the heart, send shivers down the spine and fatigue the spirit. U.S. Politics, not unlike my love life, are fraught, inconsistent and, at the present moment, bare a striking resemblance to a vaudevillian farce, which is why I more than empathize with the inclination so many of us have to opt out of political engagement altogether; especially those of us living abroad.
Out of sight, out of mind amirite? (The answer is no, no I am not). Look, I understand the desire to shut your eyes and ears to the noise, to cede whatever power we have in order to obtain the peace we want. However, politics, are of great consequence and importance not only to myself and those closest to me, but to society at large, and simply changing the channel or choosing to scroll past that HuffPo article in order to watch a video about an unlikely friendship between a sloth and an orphaned kitten, doesn’t change that fact; anymore than me deciding that Kit Harington and I will fall in love, make quarter-Stark babies and grow old together, will make it so.
I look at it like this: Politics matter, because politics shape people's lives.
The schools you went to? Politics.
The demographics of the neighborhood(s)you grew up in? Politics.
The financial aid you did or did not receive; school lunches, community centers, international travel; your ability to expatriate...all of it, politics.
Politics shape people’s lives but even more importantly; votes, discourse, engagement and activism have the power to shape politics. And that’s where we the people come in.
So what can you do?
Find your local Democrats or Republicans Abroad chapter and participate in the myriad political events they have every year. Vote absentee even at the state and local levels (read: especially at the state and local levels). Berate your congressman/congresswoman; start blogging; rage tweet @ Donald Trump; anything to animate your political consciousness, because we, the expat community have the ability; and one could even argue, the obligation to use whatever political capital we may have, in order to contribute to the forward march of social progress, even if from afar.
After all, things don’t just get better on their own. What I’m saying is, stay informed; because it matters.
Stay active and engaged. Got a cause? Start a petition. Debate and argue with your friends over a vermouth, bookmark that ‘sloth grooms kitten video’ and read that BBC article instead, because it matters.
Even if it doesn’t matter to you, I guarantee you it matters to someone who might not have the luxury of moving to another country if and/or when Trump wins the Presidency and decides to invade Scotland. Now, with that in mind, please excuse while I watch the latest episode of Last Week Tonight.