In the wake of a catastrophe as total as the rise of the Norsefire Party and its continuing control over most of the British mainland, it is only rational to consider the path that led us here and only human to look for someone to blame.
What’s up Mouse?
I’ve been a US political junkie since the early Bush years and, as a junkie, this election has proven to be my Requiem for a Dream. The thing I’m addicted to is making me ill and may quite possibly be killing me and I am just about ready for this rampaging shit-beast of an election to finally drag its filthy carcass over the finish line. But, with a mere five more days until November 8th, I feel it’s my duty to try and convince as many of my American readers as possible to…
I know. I know. I know. You’re sick of this. You’re sick of the constant reminders that “this election is different”. But here’s the thing. This election is different. Radically different. Why? Because this election can get you laid.
Picture the scene. A few years from now you’re in a bar in Paris, or Rio, or Dublin, or anywhere else where legendarily beautiful people are known to congregate. You get talking to a particularly gorgeous member of your preferred gender and the conversation goes like these:
BEAUTIFUL FOREIGN HUMAN: So tell me about yourself Meester/Mademoiselle American, so that I may decide eef you are worthy of my beautiful time.
YOU: Aw shucks pardner, I’m just a simple American who likes apple pie and baseball and workin’ down on the ol’ farm.
BEAUTIFUL FOREIGN HUMAN: (silently deciding not to have sex with you) I see.
YOU: Oh yeah, and one time in 2016 I helped prevent a fascist takeover of my country.
BEAUTIFUL FOREIGN HUMAN: Zut alors! We must make love immediately!
YOU: Okay. My place or yours?
BEAUTIFUL FOREIGN HUMAN: No time!
BAR PATRONS: Ooh la la!
Guys, I don’t think you understand the gift that’s been handed to you. You get to stop Trump. You get to stop an actual fascist. This opportunity will not come again in your lifetime (dear Christ I hope it doesn’t). There is nothing sexier than defeating fascism. Look at the Greatest Generation, do you have any idea how much action those guys got when they got home?
Sorry, I was going to do a proper, well-reasoned, nuanced reaction to the Brexit vote with references to the increasing alienation of the British working class in an age of globalisation and blah blah blah yadda yadda.
FUCK THAT. I have been drinking, my country’s economy has just been thrown into very real jeopardy and you Little England cunts have now threatened my daughter’s future. No no. You’re getting the lash. (This, by the way, is not directed at the forty odd per cent of Britons who voted to Remain. You get a big hug, I am so, so, sorry).
Apparently the number 2 google search in Britain right now is “What is the EU?”
So let me explain. The EU was an utterly unique political union of 28 sovereign nations working together to promote free trade, democracy and human rights on the European continent that spent most of its fifty year history kissing your goddamn arse. You didn’t want to be part of Schengen? You didn’t have to be part of Schengen. Didn’t want to adopt the Charter of Fundamental Rights? No problem, rude of us to even ask. You thought a single currency was a stupid idea? Well, you were right about that one in hindsight but the rest of us didn’t force you.
You had it all, you dumb fucks. You had the best possible deal. Now if Greece says they want out? That’s understandable. But you guys? What exactly about the absurdly preferential treatment you got was not to your liking? Were the handjobs not suitably vigorous, WHAT?!
LET ME LICK YOUR FUCKING TEARS. OH! OH! THEY TASTE SO GOOD!
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Donald Trump where I called him mean names and mocked the size of his tiny, tiny hands. It was fun. We all laughed. Good times.
He’s now the nominee of the Republican party.
Also, around a month ago I wrote a post on the results of the most recent Irish general election and how it was going to be damn near impossible to form a government. Let’s tie those two together almost as if that was my plan all along. *tents fingers*
Trump. What? FUCK.
Trump What FUCK indeed, amigo. There’s a whole squirming nest-of-naked-baby-rats mess of factors that have brought us to this point and account for the appeal of Donald Trump.
This is a big part of it, no question. Some of it is just the general home-grown racial tension that’s been apiece with the American cultural landscape since…oh, Columbus. But more specifically to this moment in history is the fact that vast swathes of white America is in full on demographic panic. Current US immigration policies have led to a huge shift in the size of the Hispanic population relative to non-Hispanic whites, something encouraged by both main parties. The Democrats, obviously, because Hispanics form a core part of their coalition, but the Republicans too because, while they make political hay from coded racist appeals to white voters, having more low skilled workers than there are low skilled jobs helps keep wages depressed which is good news for the Koch brothers and other corporate Republican donors. Throw in lingering post 9/11 Islamophobia and a candidate who promises to deal with all of the above in short order, and presto, you have a Trump rally.
So Americans are just racist and we can all go home?
No, and here’s where I think it gets scary. Because I think the rise of Trump means that we’re seeing the final days of American democracy as we know it.
To counterbalance the grimness of that last sentence, here is a picture of a kitten wearing a jaunty little hat.
Now, I don’t mean that Trump is going to win (he probably won’t) or that once he won he’d abolish democratic institutions and declare himself dictator*. Any president who tried that (particularly one whose support in his own party is as tenuous as Trump’s) would very quickly find himself impeached, arrested or shot in no particular order.
No, the problem is built into how America actually votes. Sooner or later, Trump was going to happen.
Guys, if I can briefly distract your attention from the ongoing flaming six-train pileup that is the US elections I need you to take a look at what’s happening in Ireland right now.
What’s happening in Ireland?
We had an election, and nobody won.
What? How is that even possible? Did nobody vote?
On the contrary, turnout this election was a very healthy 60%, down from 2011 but still high for a country where voting isn’t mandatory.
So what’s the problem?
Okay, a little background. Ireland elects the Dáil (our parliament) with the Proportional Representation: Single Transferable Vote. It’s the system that most accurately reflects the views of voters and using it makes the Dáil one of the most democratic legislatures in the world. Compare that to our upper house, the Seanad, which isn’t even fully elected and is probably the least democratic legislature in the developed world. Ireland: A land of contrasts. Basically in PR:STV you are allowed to not simply vote for your favourite candidate but to rank all the candidates in order of preference. This allows people to vote for smaller parties that better align with their politics without worrying that their vote will help parties they disagree with (think, being able to vote for Nader without worrying that you’re helping Bush to win).
That sounds super complicated.
It’s really not. You put a 1 by your favourite candidate, a 2 by your second and so on. Easy peasy.
No, I didn’t mean the voting, I meant the counting the vote.
That is SUPER complicated, yes. It’s a Lovecraftian, nightmare inducing madness but hey, I just vote so it’s not my problem. Although if you’re interested, this video explains the whole process better than I ever could.
So what happened?
The people cast their ballot and at the end the vote looked like this:
Holy shit that’s a lot of parties. What am I even looking at?
Okay, so the blue bar at the top is Fine Gael, currently in government in coalition with the Labour party (the lighter red bar). Second down is Fianna Fáil who’ve been the party of government for most of Ireland’s history but were banished to the land of ghosts and shadows in the 2011 election because the 2008 crash happened on their watch. They’ve bounced back in a huge way this election because apparently a quarter of the country suffered some kind of head trauma that effects medium term memory. The bright patriotic green guys three rows down are Sinn Féin who are ABSOLUTELY NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE I.R.A. IN ANY WAY AND NEVER HAVE BEEN.
And below them? That big long black 13%? The independents, just ordinary men and women without even a party who managed to collectively come in fourth over all.
Alright, I may have sold him a little short in that analogy. Cosgrave was actually one of the more experienced politicians in De Valera’s revolutionary government, having spent many years serving on Dublin city council. He fought in the Easter Rising and, like DeValera, just narrowly escaped execution. Upon his release from prison, he ran for election as a Sinn Féin candidate and won thanks to possibly the greatest election poster in the history of everything.
Remember back in the De Valera post I mentioned howSinn Féin were essentially able to create a parallel government to compete with Britain’s institutions? Well most of the actual sweat-work was done by Cosgrave in his role as Sinn Féin’s Minister for Local Government. (Pro-tip for any aspiring revolutionaries out there: Make sure you have a government set up to take over before you win. Don’t put it on the long finger). But still, the guy would not be your first choice to lead a nation through a civil war. In fact, he may have gotten the job purely because, at 42, he was the oldest member of the government (yeah, this was a young revolution). He was a small, quiet, totally normal bloke.
He was also something that is vanishingly rare in politicians of every stripe and nationality: Competent. That, I think, is the word that sums him up better than any other. WT Cosgrave got shit done.
- You want more? Okay, well, it bears remembering that WT Cosgrave was a democrat in a time when democracy in Europe was widely seen as being on its way out. He scrupulously defended the nation’s democratic institutions in a time when fascism and authoritarianism were far more intellectually respectable than they are now.
- The Irish Free State also had full women’s suffrage six years before Britain, a fact that we are constitutionally required to remind them at every possible opportunity.
- Nobody comes through a Civil War with their hands clean, and Cosgrave was no exception. Despite being personally opposed to the death penalty (being on death row will do that to you), during the height of the conflict he ordered many executions, some almost certainly illegal as they were without trial. All in all, almost eighty republicans were executed before the war ended, far more than even the British had executed during the War of Independence.
- Fathered Liam Cosgrave.