This 4th of July, Express Your Patriotism by Voting
I’ve never been all that patriotic.
Part of it is that I’ve lived abroad for many periods in my life. So most days I feel much more like a “global citizen” than rooted in any one country.
I also hold two passports – one for the U.S. and one for the U.K. Trust me: if you’ve ever had to study for the UK citizenship test, you’ll instantly feel bonded to the Queen simply by virtue of the two weeks you spent memorizing the speed limits on assorted “motorways,” the population of Wales, and which healthcare benefits pregnant mothers can expect.
Until quite recently, the only thing that really made me feel patriotic towards the U.S. was paying my taxes. And although I firmly believe that Americans should define their relationship to the American flag on their own terms, flag-waving has never really been part of my M.O.
But all that changed about a year ago when I signed up to volunteer for Vote from Abroad (VFA). VFA has a simple mission: to educate and mobilize the estimated 9 million Americans living overseas so that they register to vote. Because I joined this organization during the extraordinary presidential year that was 2020, something inside me shifted.
Through my participation in VFA, I came to appreciate that Americans abroad face innumerable obstacles to obtaining their ballots, mailing them in, and having them counted – far more than if they voted at home. So if we really don’t want to fall prey to “taxation without representation,” we need to make our voices heard.
I also learned why our overseas votes matter, even in deep-Red or deep-Blue states, and how we can act on that knowledge to rally our fellow expat Americans to the cause. Above all, I learned that overseas voters can make a difference in tipping U.S. elections. At a time when restrictive voting laws are sweeping the United States, I, for one, am not willing to sit on my hands.
So as we enter the 4th of July weekend, I can honestly say that I feel 100% more patriotic than I did last year. Because I now appreciate that the best way to express my love for my country of origin is to stay engaged as a U.S citizen living abroad. And that means registering to vote and requesting a ballot every year.
I invite you to do the same.