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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 5 June, 2020
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Democrats voting in Dublin go for Bernie but insist 'even the Devil' would be better than Trump

Democrats Abroad Ireland had a Super Tuesday polling station in the Arlington Hotel.

Democrat voter in Dublin Daria Marie Walsh.
Democrat voter in Dublin Daria Marie Walsh.
Image: TheJournal.ie

JOE BIDEN MAY have been the big winner on Super Tuesday in the US, but Bernie Sanders was the winner as Democrats in Ireland cast their ballot in Dublin last night. 

The worldwide Democrats Abroad organisation is entitled to send 13 voting delegates to the party’s convention in Milwaukee in July and members are this week are choosing who they will vote for.

US citizens registered with the party can vote by post or via email, but Democrats Abroad Ireland has organised two events where members can vote in person. 

There’s a polling station in Galway on Saturday but last night the polls were also open for three hours at the Arlington Hotel in Dublin. 

Members came and went and put their selections into a homemade ballot box. They mingled with other US expats, bought some Democratic swag and even had pint or a glass of wine. 

Sanders emerged as the winner of the ballot with almost 47% of the votes, ahead of Elizabeth Warren on 34%, Joe Biden on 18% and Michael Bloomberg on 1%. 

Despite the relaxed atmosphere, most voters wanted to keep their selections to themselves but there was an applause when the winner was announced. 

One of those voting was Daria Marie Walsh, a Pennsylvania native who has called Ireland home for the past 20 years but has never missed a vote.  

She can’t vote in every election but when the presidential race comes around she has a 100% record of voting in Democratic primaries and the general election. 

“America is my first home but Ireland is home now and I see myself as a global citizen,” she says, explaining that she feels privileged to able to cast a ballot that for a position that has huge significance. 

I see the importance of voting in the American election because I always understood how there’s a domino effect to what happens in Capitol Hill. Even as somebody who’s understood that, I don’t think you really understand it until you live outside of US borders and live in another country, anywhere in the world.

“So I think for me, it’s also an act of global citizenry. It’s like I can vote and really have a say in what happens with the view of how it impacts the world.” 

Walsh says voting is “act of citizenship” and one that shouldn’t stop because she lives in Ireland.

20200303_184637 Badges on sale at the polling station. Source: TheJournal.ie

Walsh says the last four years with Donald Trump as president has been difficult but that Irish people have been more understanding than when it was George W. Bush in the White House. 

I think I’ve been here so long I’ve seen such an ebb and flow. And I’ve also seen people here grow in awareness. When I was first living here you’d have people coming over and giving out to me screaming about the war that I caused. Now I never voted for Bush, I am fiercely anti-war and a Democrat my whole life. And yet a complete stranger would just do that to me based on my accent. That was really very hard to take.

“But I think Irish people are learning more and more that it’s a tremendously huge country with a massive diverse population and you can’t assume something based on somebody’s accent. And I haven’t once had anybody during this whole time with Trump  coming up to me and accuse me of any of the nonsense he’s been up to.”

Another voter who’s been in Ireland a similar length of time is Connecticut’s Raymond LeGates,  he says politely there have been some “different” candidates in that time but that America needs a change of president. 

Asked does he agree that Irish people are understanding of US voters, he is categorical. 

“You’re goddamn right they do,” he says. “I have Irish friends who know more about US politics than some Americans.” 

20200303_185134 Source: TheJournal.ie

Most who were voting last night were clear that the priority for Democrats must be to select a candidate that has the best chance of defeating Trump. 

New York-native Richard Lubell said he was “torn on whether to vote with my heart or with my head”.

“I’ve been reading a lot about a brokered convention, so that scares me. That was part of what I factored into my vote. So not necessarily who I think can win, but what outcome would be the best coming out of that.”

Lubell has also been in Ireland for 20 years and he explains that what Irish people mightn’t realise about US presidential politics is how unimportant it is to so many people. 

My missus is Irish and from her going over the States and others, their biggest observation is how easy it is in the States to just live your life and not be involved in politics. So I think, yeah, what people don’t understand is how much having Trump as president having Obama as president can just not affect your day-to-day life. 

20200303_195331 Democrat voter in Dublin Daria Marie Walsh.

20200303_185210 Source: TheJournal.ie

But regardless of the effect a president may or may not have, Democrats Abroad Ireland Treasurer TJ Mulloy says a few votes here and there can make a huge difference to the overall result. 

He points to Bush’s tight and controversial defeat of Al Gore two decades ago:

Look at 2000 in Florida. A few hundreds votes would have changed the entire makeup of the country over the last generation. We would have had an environmentalist in the White House and we wouldn’t have gone into Iraq, that was pretty clear. What a stark difference that would be and the Supreme Court would be totally different. I know we’re looking back 20 years, but that’s kind of shows you how important a single voter is.

On the current race, Mulloy says he feels the Democrats have a strong field of candidates whoever ends up being the nominee.

“It’s pretty hard to argue with the experience that’s there. Elizabeth Warren is fantastic, whether she makes it through or not. Bernie Sanders. I mean, we all love Bernie, whether you voted for him or not, that’s another story.

“But I’m happy with whoever’s at the top of the ticket. Not too pleased with Bloomberg but he’s doing what he’s doing. And you know, as somebody said to me earlier today, I’d vote for the devil himself if he was up against Trump.”

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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