Well, the first candidate in the race for Ireland’s first citizen has been picked and it’s Labour who are off the bat fastest.
Higgins, I’m not planning on voting for, at least at this early stage, for a myriad of reasons.
Firstly, I think he’s far too old for the office. You want someone young, exuberant, dynamic in that job, since the primary responsibility of the office is perception based: the President is supposed to be the public face of the nation. Higgins is, in my view, not that face. Higgins is an old, grey haired, Irish speaker, who writes poetry and reads speeches very carefully off sheets of paper he holds in front of him. That is, the guy is not representative of Ireland. How bad did that opening speil on “The Frontline” last Monday look?
He’s Ireland’s major “pro-Palestine” political figure, and I’m not a huge fan of that movements methods or politics.
He’s against the use of Shannon airport for the US military, my problems with that stance outlined here.
He’s offered no actual policy ideas, beyond stuff like Labour’s National Forum, which they’ve been advocating for a while.
He falls into the trap, as I’m sure all candidates will, have acting like the Presidency is more important than it really is and has more power than it really does. At best, he’s badly misinformed. At worst, he’s lying to the electorate.
His supporters, especially those within the Labour Party, have long been on an embarrassingly hackneyed attempt to push him on younger voters, dubbing him “Michael D” at every opportunity, or linking around stupid songs about the guy. Aside from the fact that I just generally hate that kind of electoral support, it’s going to fall flat the second the guy opens his mouth in debates. “Michael D” isn’t cool, young or “rockin”.
On that “Frontline” appearance, he hit one of my notable stumbling blocks, referencing past historical figures or family members, in his case an ancestor who fought in the Civil War, in the cause of his current electoral bid. I absolutely despise that approach. I hate it with a passion. I couldn’t care less, in terms of Higgins’s current Presidential bid, what his great-Grandfather did during the Revolutionary Period. It has no bearing on this election. None. Any attempt to use it in an election campaign is not only insulting to the memory of WoI/CW veterans, but betrays weakness within his campaign itself.
All of that being said, I am smart enough to recognise that “Michael D” is the frontrunner and favourite for the post. He’ll get the older vote, the Irish speaking vote, the western vote. He has at least a few weeks on whoever his nearest challenger, Fine Gael picking their candidate in early July, turns out to be. What he does with that head start will be crucial, though months remain until the actual election.
As it stands, I would guess his challengers would be Mairead McGuinness of Fine Gael and, if the party can be persuaded to give it a go, Brian Crowley for Fianna Fail. I doubt Sinn Fein will bother, though they might endorse someone, possibly Niall O’Dowd. Regardless, Labour have taken the initiative, and have a candidate who can win the election.
I hope he doesn’t though. I’m almost certain it would greatly upset my ancestors from the War of Independence.
See how stupid that was?