Without Representation

Pacific Century Place
Hiding from the Nokians
1411 hrs.

As I find myself becoming more politically active as an expatriate than I ever was in the United States (well, since college, anyway), I am pleased to see how much logistically simpler it is becoming for Americans living abroad to cast a vote in the coming elections, and how – at least at the party level – our representation is improving.

The Democratic Party, for example, has set up a separate primary for registered Democrats living abroad, and expatriates will have a separate delegation (22 delegates) voting at the convention.

This is an enlightened response to a globalized reality: Americans living overseas have very different issues – and very different takes on major issues – than other voters in their home states, and simply lumping them in with the folks back home only quashes that viewpoint. It is good to see parties recognizing Americans living overseas not as a special interest lobby, but as an entirely separate and diverse constituency.

Given these changes, there is no excuse for so many of my fellow American expats to opt out of the electoral process.

If you are one of those who hold citizenship, live overseas, and don’t vote, think about this:

Get off your fanny and vote. If nothing else, you owe it to the people around the world – and in your country of residence – who are affected by US policies but who get no say in the process. You are voting for the rest of the world as well as for yourself.

It also gets you thinking – the principles on which the Declaration of Independence and Constitution (and, indeed, the Magna Carta) were founded abhor the idea of a people subject to the rule of a sovereign without representation. That’s a fancy way of saying “it’s not right that a government should make decisions that directly affect my life without me having a say in the process.”

There is a reckoning coming, one that will force us to recognize that the Jeffersonian structures on which modern western liberal democracies have been founded are based on principles that globalization is challenging.


About David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.
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