After writing my bit for Friday, I got to thinking a bit more about the referendum.
If you’re anything like me, then you probably get quite distressed by the sheer weight of the “No” side in terms of posters, online ads, “presence”. And, by all indications, it’s going to get worse. The “No” side simply have too much of an advantage in financial terms. The Google decision and the Facebook rein-in help, but they are not the fatal blow I’ve seen some people treat them as. We’re going to be bombarded by new and ever-more inventive (and inaccurate) posters, people are going to be bombarded by “suggested” ads and videos, and whatever their good intentions, “Together For Yes” doesn’t appear capable of keeping up right now. The political parties, if they are bothered at all, are done being pro-active, with not even Sinn Fein or the hard-left apparently all that interested in investing much more in terms of promotion and message.
I fear there is an overconfidence, a malaise, in the “Yes” camp. When Gavin Sheridan criticised the lack of fundraising on Twitter the other day, and questioned whether polls were trustworthy, he was inundated with replies in the vein of “Stop being negative”, “ground game”, “We can’t do anything about the financial gap” and the dreaded “What way are you voting then?”. I can’t be the only one who sees the similarity between those kind of responses and those that were frequently parroted by the “No” side in the SSM campaign. When the polls, with the gap closing fast (too fast for comfort) see “No” take the lead, will these same people start talking about a “Silent Yes”? Will they then be the ones furiously denouncing the electorate on May 26th and wondering how it could have all gone wrong?
But there is still stuff that we can do. Together For Yes are always looking for volunteers for canvassing and leaflet distribution but, if you’re anything like me and feel that, shall we say, your temperament isn’t suited for the kind of level-headed and thick-skinned conversations you’ll have to have with very difficult people, you can donate so Together For Yes can put up more posters and more online ads. You can have potentially awkward conversations with friends and relatives who are in the “Don’t Know” category, or only veering one way or another (with the caveat that you shouldn’t waste your time, energy and general well-being on lost causes). You can report every “No” ad, video and illegally placed poster that you see. You can contact your local councilors and TD’s and ask if they have been campaigning, and why not, if not.
And most importantly, you can vote on May 25th. Don’t fall prey to over-confidence if the polls maintain the “Yes” lead, or despair if the polls turn. Don’t give in to apathy or convenience. Encourage others to vote, offer a lift if you have one.
Right now, today, I think that “No” is going to win. They have the funding, they have the momentum, and this “Yes” movement is not the well-oiled, well-organised and well-supported vote grabbing machine that “Yes” two years ago was. To face reality, it is simply not as popular.
But that doesn’t have to matter. I really don’t want to read a litany of dour and frustrated postmortems come May 26th so, whether it is as minor as tapping a “Report” button or as a major as a significant donation of your time and money, please do what you can to give “Yes” as much of a chance as it needs.