US expats torn between distancing and joining political protests

Published:  9 Apr at 6 PM
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As US political tensions escalate, American expats are split between watching from a safe distance and advocating support for a common sense solution to the Trump presidency.

Caught between feelings of guilt for missing out on the USA’s developing protest movements and relief they’re not affected by the continuing chaos in their home country, expat Americans are doing what they can on the international protest stage but are worried about the Trump effect on their families and friends.

Unable to cut their emotional ties to home, many are attempting to stay engaged whilst keeping a mental distance from tragedies and developing crises. Audrey Davis, a creative director now working in London, lost a close friend late last year when an armed robber opened fire in the restaurant where she worked. Audrey can’t help but think if the incident had happened in the UK, her friend would still be alive. She feels bad she couldn’t attend last month’s March For Our Lives demonstration in Washington, and also missed the Women’s March late last year.

Communications career woman Charlotte Johnson is in a similar position as she’d attended a Dallas Women’s March and protested against the Trump travel ban before her move to New Zealand. Once there, she decided to opt out of the protest mentality, but found it hard going after guilt set in. Right now, she’s attempting to find a balance between getting on with life and protesting by signing petitions and supporting her favourite causes including gun control and women’s reproduction rights.

Haywood has been an expat in Germany for four years, and was angry enough over Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election to join an Inauguration Day protest held in Hamburg as she felt it was her duty to be there. Her engagement with American politics has been minimal since the protest, but she did write to her congressman urging him to vote against the travel ban.

The dichotomy for these women and many thousands like them is how to continue expressing concern over the likely fate of their home country whilst getting on with their lives without feeling guilty.They may get some comfort from the fact they’re not alone, as millions of citizens in countries across the world as well as expatriates living and working within the USA aren’t ignoring the escalating bad news from Washington. What’s really sad is that USA expats can’t help feeling they’re lucky to be out of it, at the same time as being desperately concerned about their loved ones and friends.
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