Ken Sherman, dressed as Uncle Sam, is pictured next to a donkey, a Democratic Party symbol, from the 2016 Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia, as members of Democrats Abroad Canada meet at Dieppe Park before heading over the the first of two Democratic Debates at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, MI, Tuesday, July 30, 2019.
Dax Melmer / Windsor Star
In the mix of rallies, long lines, and Uncle Sam costumes at Detroit’s Democratic debate was a group of people from Canada, trying to decide who they’ll vote for in the U.S. election.An often-overlooked group of American citizens — those living in Canada — made the trek to Detroit Tuesday to ensure candidates understand their unique issues.Those citizens, many of whom belong to the group Democrats Abroad, also want to make sure Americans living in other countries know they have the right to vote in U.S. elections.“I got tired of just making political Facebook and social media posts,” said Shane Nelson, a dual citizen who recently revived the Democrats Abroad Windsor chapter. “I wanted to do something a little more active. I wanted to get young people especially — because I know a lot of dual citizens myself — to register to vote. It’s really important, especially right now with the climate we’re in. Peoples’ lives are on the line.”The second set of Democratic debates kicked off Tuesday night in Detroit. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders, fresh off a weekend visit to Windsor to highlight the disparity in drug costs, were among the rivals squaring off at Fox Theater.We know that Ontario has the highest concentration of Americans living abroadRound two of the Detroit debates, including former vice-president Joe Biden, happens Wednesday.
Members of Democrats Abroad Canada meet at Dieppe Park before heading over the the first of two Democratic Debates at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, MI, Tuesday, July 30, 2019.
Dax Melmer /
For the first time, Democrats Abroad Ontario sent an official delegation of about 20 members to Detroit for the debates.Democrats Abroad is the global arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for nine million Americans living in other countries. Its mission is to “inspire Americans who live abroad to vote in 2020.” The group said it is in more than 60 different countries.“We know that Ontario has the highest concentration of Americans living abroad, ” said Ken Sherman, who led the delegation to Detroit. “Our efforts have been key in many close races and will be even more significant for the presidential election to defeat Trump in 2020.”The group has already connected with some Democratic candidates, and plans to track down more of them in Detroit.“We want them to address our global membership on the key issues,” said Sherman. “Our membership is engaged, activist, and committed to change. We know how important this election is for the country and the world.”
A donkey, a Democratic Party symbol, from the 2016 Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia, as members of Democrats Abroad Canada meet at Dieppe Park before heading over the the first of two Democratic Debates at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, MI, Tuesday, July 30, 2019.
Dax Melmer /
Julie Buchanan, the group’s executive vice-chair in Canada, said Americans living abroad have their own set of key issues.“We have taxation issues,” said Buchanan, originally from Mobile, AL. “We still are taxed by the American government even if we don’t have income there or property there.”But there is something much bigger than that uniting them, she said.“We’re all Democrats, so we want to see Trump get out of office, which would help Canada and the rest of the world immensely,” she said.Nelson, whose mother is from Niagara Falls, NY, agreed the world would be better off without Donald Trump in the Oval Office.“I just think we can do better,” said Nelson. “I think we have to demand better of ourselves in every way.”If he gets his way, Sanders will be running things after 2020. Nelson said he’s a fan of the Vermont senator’s “consistent” stance on social issues.“I like a lot of the other candidates, too, and I’m willing to get behind anybody who will be picked,” said Nelson, who celebrated his 26th birthday at the debate. “But for Bernie, he’s top for me because he’s been in it longer than most. If you go back, you can see that he’s been fighting for the same things, which really says more about America than it does him.”Related
Nelson spent the hours before the debate taking in the rallies along downtown streets, checking out the news vans parked near Comerica Park, and hanging out with like-minded activists waiting in massive lines.“The lines are insane,” said Nelson. “I’ve never really seen anything like it. It’s crazy. Lots of blue. Everyone looks really excited, like I am.”The camaraderie and togetherness was something special to experience, he said.“I love the community,” said Nelson. “I think it’s something we need now more than ever, to come together and listen to each other. You see the variety of people the Democratic Party can bring. It’s the most diverse party. Anyone you talk to, you can learn from.”firstname.lastname@example.org/WinStarWilhelm