As the lazy days of summer come closer to ending, and those long evenings start to fade into the distance in the rear-view mirror, things are starting to get interesting in the US Presidential election.
For an election that will not take place until 2024, it seems like an eternity away. The key in the weeks and months ahead will be momentum, money, and survival.
But how does it all work? And how does it compare to the Irish electoral system?
Despite the charges mounting against Trump, he remains far ahead of his nearest rival, Ron DeSantis. Trump is loved by his base, and there appears to be little chance of the party base selecting another candidate.
For Trump to win the Presidential election, he has to win two major battles. First, he has to win the race for the Republican nomination. And should he win that, he will have to beat the Democrat nominee.
With Trump clenching 57% of the Republican base, compared to DeSantis' 18%, it is hard to see Trump losing the nomination unless the pressure of his indictments and the different charges prove too much for him, and force him to withdraw on medical grounds.
Assuming Trump wins, it will be a much harder battle for him to beat Joe Biden. The American economy is gradually moving in the right direction. US voters voted against Trump in 2020, and when it comes to Donald Trump, most have already made up their minds about him. You either love him or hate him, and that feeling has been in place for a number of years and it is hard to see many undecided voters out there.
Perhaps the real danger to Joe Biden is not Donald Trump, but the danger of a third-party candidate, who could potentially run a candidacy that would never win, but would take enough votes away from Biden to allow Trump to win. Joe Manchin, the Democrat from West Virginia is considering an Independent run.
As the eyes of the world begin to turn to the US election, the Irish political system is a world away from the United States. For a country that sees itself as modern, letting go of its past and embracing the future, Ireland is in urgent need of showing a more compassionate side to those who have left her shores.
During famine times, moving away from Ireland may have seen letters and packages arrive home every six months. Letters became more regular in the 20th century, and weekly and monthly phone calls became the norm from the '80s.
With the internet and iPhones and modern technologies, those Irish living abroad now very often know more about what is going on at home, than all those living at home themselves.
Yet the reality that goes with living abroad pierces the very soul and sense of identity and culture that you long to share and provide with others. The moment you step onto the plane in Dublin, Shannon, or Cork, it is as if you are instantly losing your right to have any say in the country. While you will always be Irish, when it comes to voting and elections, you are essentially second-class.
I am Irish. I always will be Irish. But I am now American as well. I gained my US citizenship in 2019 and I voted in the US Presidential Primaries in 2020 and the election itself in 2020. I voted in the congressional mid-term elections in 2022. It is over 20 years since I voted in an Irish election.
In America, I am always regarded as the Irishman. In Ireland, I am regarded as the Yank. The sad reality is that those who have left the shores of Ireland long for home, will always regard Ireland as home, and yet will never have the option to exercise their sense of democratic right in an Irish capacity.
Being a dual citizen of the US and Ireland means that I will always be able to vote in a US election. I will have the option to vote by mail or at a US embassy.
For years, successive Irish governments have promised to follow through on different recommendations from different constitutional reviews. The promise of a referendum is made on a consistent basis, yet the reality is that many Irish governments fear that they could never introduce a referendum on something that would not be guaranteed to pass.
Was the marriage equality referendum guaranteed to pass? Was the abortion referendum guaranteed to pass? Were all the different votes on Europe over the years guaranteed to pass? To prevent the will of the people being heard for fear of perception if results do not go as planned is morally wrong.
Is there a fear that all of those living abroad could tip the results of an election? The reality is that those different groupings abroad have only ever asked for a say in Ireland's Presidential election. They have never asked for representation in the day-to-day decision-making process in the country.
It is the right of every person born on the island of Ireland to call themselves an Irish citizen. Is it wrong for them to be able to have a say in who represents them as their first citizen?
While the perception is that the Irish in places like New York and Sydney and London are being denied the vote, the people of Derry and Belfast are losing out on this democratic right also.
In the US, I am happy to have registered to vote. When registering, I was presented with the option to register as Republican, Democrat, or Independent. By choosing a political party, you are free to vote in their presidential primary in the earlier part of 2024. It is a strange system as you would never register before an election as Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, or Sinn Féin. It is almost as if people will be able to gauge how you will vote, and while no one knows how you vote when you go into a polling booth, a state with significantly more registered Democrats than Republicans will rarely put the opposite party into power. As a result, elections in the US can be largely predictable but for a few states that can go either way.
The US system is not perfect. Hillary Clinton earned more votes nationally than Donald Trump, yet still lost the election due to the electoral college system.
However, the US system does allow all of its citizens to vote. Wouldn’t it be nice of the Irish government to recognize all those Irish citizens abroad and allow them to share their voice in electing their first citizen? Surely that time has come.
This article was submitted to the IrishCentral contributors network by a member of the global Irish community. To become an IrishCentral contributor click here.