The Not Too Far Away to Call campaign, organized by Action Together: Zürich, and mobilized through a network of over 50 overseas resistance groups, was a huge success, demonstrating that despite being outside the United States, Americans are committed to having their voices heard by Members of Congress.
The campaign which ran between the 9th and 14th of September, had the objective of encouraging Americans living overseas to call their Members of Congress to share the policy and social issues that concern them even from outside the United States.
Often Americans living overseas face barriers to political participation. Many feel that traditional channels of participation are closed to them as American citizens. However, the campaign succeeded in demonstrating that despite not living in the United States, thanks to technology and greater connection between countries, even “expats” have the tools available to make their voices heard to decision-makers. Furthermore the wide-ranging participation of Americans in the campaign, demonstrated that, while not physically present in the country, Americans overseas feel committed to exercising their citizenship. By making these acts of citizenship visible, the campaign evidenced that expats are not silent, forgotten or passive in the face of current policy making processes.
62 people, in 6 continents and 25 countries participated in the campaign. Americans in Colombia, Japan, Thailand, Cote d’Ivoire, Siberia and from throughout Europe called their Members of Congress. Photos posted on social media shows citizens calling from the street, from the great outdoors, from offices, from their homes with their families and some even in costumes. What did they call about?
One participant posted in front of a castle in Switzerland “#nottoofarawaytocall NJ Senator Bob Menendez to push for sufficient funding for science.”
Martha McDevitt-Pugh wrote from a train station in the Netherlands, “Just phoned Senator Dianne Feinstein to thank her for co-sponsoring the Dream Act of 2017. US immigration needs reform.”
Another posted “After waking up early to climb the stairs of Tokyo Tower to raise money for suicide prevention, why not make use of the early hour to call my senator to urge him to do so he can to protect DREAMers?”
Debbie Harvey called from a hike in Italy to ask “Jackie (Gerrymander) Walorski to work toward nonpartisan redistricting, and Senator Joe Donnelly to thank him for speaking out against the transgender ban and Arpaio pardon.”
And from Colombia Tiffany Gust Duque asked her representatives know her stance on DACA and climate change.
These calls from all over the world highlight a broad range of issues, and show how constituents care enough not only to voice their opinions but thank decision-makers for the good work they do.
This campaign was a political exercise, but it did not stop at the end of the two weeks. Americans overseas continue to call home every day. Action Together Zürich, encourages you to keep calling and posting photos of your calls with #nottoofarawaytocall, to continue reminding our representatives that just because we are not physically there, doesn’t mean we don’t care or don’t have the right to be heard.