Thursday, January 31, 2008

Who's THE Candidate? DAT Members Speak Up at Issues Forum

Here's the report from Don Linder, DAT Vice-Chair -- Telling Us the Results of the DAT Issues Forum called "Who's THE Candidate" on 30 January 2008, held at Starbucks Langsuan in Bangkok and attended by approximately 30 DAT members!

I am pleased to report that last night’s DAT Issues Forum was on the subject of “Who’s the Candidate?” was a huge success. At the highest point, there were approximately 30 people there and discussion was spirited.

Let me try to relay some of the highlights of the evening.

  1. We started with an informal straw poll concerning the issues which I had sent in a previous email. Those issues were: Abortion, Guns, Health Care, Immigration, Stem Cell, Iraq, Iran, Same-Sex Marriage, Climate Change, Economy, Social Security, and Taxes. Among those issues in the straw poll (plus some early responses to the email), The Economy and Health Care were the top concerns, with Iraq and Climate Change as seconds. However, as discussion opened up, it became clear that the really key issue among those DAT-ers attending was Foreign Policy/America’s Standing in the World. For ex-pats, this made a great deal of sense, with one person bringing it down the personal level of “I’d like to be able to walk down the street again and not feel like I’m hated for being an American.”
  1. Among those attending, Barak Obama seemed to be the overwhelming favorite for the nomination. Many – myself included – voiced our disappointment in what we felt was Hillary Clinton’s votes on Iraq and Iran, as well as a perception of her maintaining a status quo rather than offering a sense of change. Some spoke of the “Billary” factor, expressing a disappointment/dislike for Bill Clinton’s recent remarks in South Carolina.
  1. With a political mood and reality in which the Democrats should be able to walk into the White House, and with McCain emerging as the most likely Republican candidate, “Electability” (or, more specifically, “Who was least likely to blow it?”) was raised as an issue. It seemed to me – and correct me if I’m wrong – there was less consensus on this issue than on personal preference for Obama or Clinton.
  1. We discussed issues which were of particular concern to Americans living abroad; these included everything from the local and specific (visa difficulties, regulations which made it difficult for foreign spouses) to the more global (Social Security enrollment, inability to receive Medicare benefits, the declining dollar, taxation.)

A true highlight of the evening was the presence of David Glickman, who was recognized for his dedication to building and sustaining DAT from the very beginning.

It is my personal hope that we will continue this forum as the election season continues. Once the Democratic candidate is chosen, I am especially interested in finding ways to make him/her aware of the specific concerns of Americans abroad to ensure that these concerns are addressed.

Finally, there is a very interesting article by George Packer in this weeks NEW YORKER magazine entitled “THE CHOICE: The Clinton-Obama battle reveals two very different ideas of the Presidency.” It is available at

All my best,

Don Linder
Vice-Chair, DAT

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