THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Wen-Wen Lindroth has been the Chair of Democrats Abroad UK (DAUK) since March 2021. Her parents moved to the Boston area from Taiwan in the 1960s and Wen-Wen was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She and her Swedish husband now live in London. She tells us about DAUK, and why voting in the midterms is so important.
Since I was a teenager I have supported causes affiliated with the Democratic Party. For example, when I went to college in 1988, one of the first causes that I joined was the queer Alliance, this was when the AIDS pandemic was raging. For me the freedom of sexuality is important, and also equal treatment, health care etc. My parents treated me and brother quite equally and feminism and the need for women to be self-sufficient have always been super important to me. I’ve also engaged in a lot of work trying to improve conditions for women and minorities in my day job. When Trump was elected in 2016, I felt that I had more to give in terms of helping my country get to a better place. I come from the world of finance so I always look at global developments through an economic lens. The economic story of the rise of populism and of Trump was something that I understood well enough to illuminate it and help push the country in a direction that would solve these problems. I really threw myself into it when I got here in early 2017. I started off by attending the Women’s March in London. Then I attended a DAUK Women’s Caucus meeting that I came across online, and I told the chair of the Women’s Caucus that I wanted to work on the economic policy issues.
Our main mission is to get out the vote, and to motivate Americans living here to participate and exercise their right. And over the years, DAUK has grown in many different directions, and we have caucuses and committees, some of which I already mentioned. There’s a lot of growth still to be had though. For example, we’ve recently set up the Progressive Caucus group. And also regionally, historically DAUK has been quite London focused, but it’s important to remember that there are Americans living all over the country, so we’ve been expanding into other parts of the UK, to get as many Democratic voters engaged as we can. And maybe also some independents who might be willing to join us based on the policies of the Democratic Party.
If they live in one of the existing regional group areas then it would be great if they would join an existing one, which they can find on our website, but we are looking to set up groups in Wales, Northern Ireland and Northeast England, we would welcome that.
First, it’s not exactly made easy. People are sometimes not even sure that they have the right to vote. Then you have to work out where you are eligible to vote, and then register at the beginning of every year. There are different rules for each state – in some you can email back your vote, and some only allow you to mail back your vote and so on. That’s a barrier for some people, so they just can’t be bothered.
Our nonpartisan website tries to simplify it, and if people have any questions they can come to us for assistance. They can find it at www.votefromabroad.org.
There are also efforts to restrict Americans from voting from abroad. It is increasingly understood that the majority of Americans abroad vote Democrat. Unfortunately that’s not very appealing to the other side. But it’s not something that gets me down - what it means is that there’s just so much more that we can achieve.
Your vote does matter. It is documented that had it not been for the votes sent in from abroad, the Georgia Senate elections would not have elected Senators Ossoff and Warnock. In Arizona and Wisconsin our votes also provided the margin of victory.
I would say that people did need a rest, because it was so hectic going into 2020. And it didn’t end in November, there were the unresolved Senate races. There’s COVID as well.
But I’d say that people are concerned about the direction of the country, and they’re going to come together for the midterms this year. We’ll do our part to highlight how to vote and why it’s important. It’s not just the congressional races, it’s the local races too, even in your school board elections back at home if you can, because all the decisions made at the local level ultimately feed into the bigger picture.
If you care about the future of the country you should vote, and hopefully if you’ve got the time and the capacity you can contribute even more beyond just voting.