I took to the Dublin City streets to discuss Trump’s victory in the election, and what it means for the future of America and Ireland alike.
In the wake of Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential Election, thoughts, comments and solutions have been loudly circulating all over the world. I spoke with Dublin City locals about their views on a Trump presidency, and what they think it poses for the future of America and Ireland.
Each of the eleven Dubliners I spoke to had truly interesting and complex thoughts to share. Despite the upset or surprise of many, they spoke logically and rationally about Trump’s win, and offered solutions on how the world can grow in the circumstances.
They additionally discussed with me the fate of the undocumented Irish in the US, Ireland’s economy, Ireland’s link with America, and perhaps most important, the fate of democracy in general. I spoke to a fervent Irish Trump supporter as well, who was pleasantly surprised by the outcome, and said he looks forward to what the future president might have to offer.
Katherine Donnelly, a History student at Trinity College Dublin, had some concerns specifically for the Irish economy: “You see a lot of parallels between now and the 1930s and I think that’s kind of scary, for our own future especially, being Irish. The Irish have major concerns about our economy’s future now. I think Trump wants to bring everything back to America, and what I would fear is that a lot of American companies here, like pharmaceutical companies, would have an incentive to leave. We don’t have great industry ourselves, and that would be taken away from us.
“I think we all kind of did see it coming, but didn’t want to admit it. There were major flaws in Hillary’s campaign; she didn’t offer anything that gave hope to people.” Katherine said that she most likely would not move to the US following the election outcome, as the country seems to her to be much more divided and less open-minded than she’d thought.
Colm Summers, a recent graduate based in Waterford and Washington D.C., spoke to IrishCentral about the shifting position of world politics, and the growing divide between the right and left wing, which he believes can pose a serious global threat. But he went from feeling hopeless to encouraged:
“I think it shows the failure of the left wing to activate in the same way that the far right has,” he said. “It’s easy to be accused of being a barking mad lefty when people are throwing words around like Fascism, but actually the threat of a sort of proto-Fascist United States has never been so clear.
"All it would take, given that we just had – Brexit, and then elected Trump, and Putinism in the east – would be for one other state in Europe to deflect from the European Union, the annexation of one more Eastern European country by Russia, or a similar crisis like Syria, for us to be on the brink of a real global crisis.”
When I asked Colm about his thoughts on people potentially moving out of the US as a result, he gave some words of encouragement, reminding us about the importance of democracy: “There have been more applications for Canadian passports in the last three to four days than ever before. But I would hope people would not [move out].
“I would hope we would have the courage of our convictions, and remember that a democracy is worth more than the outcome of this one election, and that we need to stick to our guns, and try to make things right in the United States.”
Dubliner Gary M. told IrishCentral that he couldn’t have predicted a Trump win because of the number of people he alienated in his campaign; he believes that even Trump himself didn’t suspect that he would win, and as a result, he’ll be unprepared:
“I don’t think that he ever thought that we would be elected, and now he’s kind of shocked that he is elected, and he doesn’t have any sort of plan in place. In one of the first interviews he gave afterwards, he was nearly rolling back on all the commitments he’d made to his supporters throughout his campaign. Even when he didn’t seem to care for Barack Obama, he is now heavily relying on Obama for counseling. He’s never been in politics before. Albeit he’s a businessman, which does bring something to the table, but he doesn’t have any history or experience in politics. I think he’ll struggle.
“If you went through the demographics before he was elected, it’s hard to understand how he could’ve won at all. He alienated a lot of the women, people of color, and immigrants. Well, he did win, and now he has a job to do for the next four years. But it seems to me that he doesn’t really understand the job that he has to do.”
One Dubliner, Peter M., told IrishCentral that he was pleasantly surprised by Trump’s victory, and thinks America will be in good hands:
“I was pleasantly surprised. All the polls had Hillary 3 or 4 points ahead, and Trump confounded the polls, and indeed he confounded the exit polls. So it just shows how much prejudice there was against him, or so it seemed.
“I like his style, his direct way of explaining things. And I like his attack on political correctness. If he follows through on his policies, it can only be a good thing.”
When I spoke with Peter about the undocumented Irish, he said: “There’s no reason why any country might be expected to have undocumented people residing in it. I’d rather hope that many of these [undocumented Irish] could be documented in due course. I think Trump said himself that he’d make a determination on that once he secures the borders.
“And certainly I wouldn’t like a few million people living in my country undocumented, not knowing who they are or where they come from, so, it makes sense.”
Many of the people I spoke to referred to the shifting position on the world toward conservatism as of late, and have fears concerning a civil rights setback. One such person is Peter Doyle, an Irish Studies student from Dublin, who had some choice words to say about the Electoral College. However, he seems optimistic, feeling that a Trump presidency won’t be as scary as people might think:
“It’s highly surprising, although I suppose what we’ve learned now is that we can’t trust the polls. They got that wrong with Brexit as well. It’s indicative of the general move away from central politics toward extremes, and toward the right wing. We’re seeing it in Europe as well. And the Electoral College is a stupid system.
“It won’t be as catastrophic as some people seem to be making it up. I highly doubt we’re going to be looking at nuclear war or anything like that.”
He also spoke about the future of the Supreme Court: “I’d say the main thing would be Trump’s legacy on the Supreme Court, especially if some of the justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and some of the older justices die, it means it could be a heavy switch to conservative. Things like Roe v. Wade could be repealed, and we could see a serious step back in civil rights.”
Ciara Molloy, a Political Science and History student from Co. Offaly, told IrishCentral that though she was jarred by Trump’s win she doesn’t believe people in the US should be protesting it:
“I’m just getting so annoyed by the protests going on all over the US at the moment. It’s the attitude that you’ve made your bed and now you have to lie in it. He was voted in democratically at the end of the day. They’re saying he’s going to usurp democracy, yet people on the streets are not really accepting that this was a democratic process.”
However, Ciara feels optimistic about Trump’s maintenance of the US-Ireland relationship: “One of this first moves was that he got in touch with Enda Kenny about Saint Patrick’s Day. It is kind of comforting: I think there’s always going to be that close Irish-American link no matter who the president is, so it’s kind of a relief in one way.”
Her classmate Emma Clarke from Co. Kerry believes that people were unenthused by the prospect of another Democratic President, but also now that we’ve seen this extreme outcome, people should feel inspired to stand up and make a change:
“I didn’t really see it coming, but after Brexit I kind of wondered, because there seems to be a trend. I think Trump being voted in was a protest against the establishment. People thought that with voting for Hillary, it would be another four years of the same carry-on. It was the same with Brexit. It’s basically saying the system we have now is not working we need a change.
“I think it also highlights the flaws in the Electoral College system. I don’t think it’s a democracy when you have literally more people in the country voting for a candidate who doesn’t win. I think there is a need for a change there.
“Maybe I’m being too optimistic here, but I think people will realize now that Trump has been voted in that we need to do something. The Democratic Party will say we have to do something. We have to offer something new, because what we had to offer before was not working. So we’re going to have to go back to the drawing board and rethink everything.”
It’s clear that Dubliners are quite thoughtful and have been passionately discussing the election around the city. What do you think about their comments?