What if…a Right-Wing government was elected in Ireland (part 2)

The announcement by the Ceann Comhairle that Eve Hennessy had been elected Taoiseach was met with a wave of shouts and boos from the large demonstration that nearly filled both Molesworth and Kildare Streets. The signs, announcing “#StopTheSteal” and “the election was stolen” gave a clear indication as to the views of the crowd. Ogra Shinn Fein, who made up a significant proportion of the crowd, also held up signs calling for a “republican court” to put the outgoing Taoiseach on trial for collaboration because she announced that she did in fact accept the election result as legitimate.

Outgoing Sinn Fein ministers were abused far more than incoming NDP TDs.  The outgoing FF ministers had all lost their seats to either Sinn Fein or the NDP.

The speed at which the new government moved surprised many, despite the fact that it had all been clearly telegraphed by Hennessy from the election. Over 40 pre-prepared pieces of legislation were placed before the Oireachtas despite massive protests from the opposition parties who attacked the government for “steamrollering” the parliament. Hennessy replied by extending the sitting hours of both houses.

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What if…a right wing government was elected in Ireland?

The exit poll for the 2029 general election caused gasps in the studio. Recent polls had shown that the outgoing Sinn Fein/Fianna Fail coalition was struggling but still competitive. The New Democrats, led by former FG TD for Dublin Rathdown, Eve Hennessy,  were doing better than expected. The polls had given the new party a consistent support level in the late-thirties, with her former party struggling to keep about 10%. But as the first boxes opened on the Saturday morning, there was much talk of what was termed “shy Tory syndrome”, where voters are embarrassed to admit to voting for certain (usually right wing) parties, but acting accordingly in the privacy of the polling booth.

Hennessy had been mocked when she had been elected in the disastrous (for FG) election of 2025 which had seen SF come to power. From a wealthy south Dublin family, Hennessy had proceeded to become one of the wealthiest people in the country when she founded the Banshee Group which manufactured both civilian and military drones. She had rapidly become disheartened with FG in opposition, and the prevailing belief that some sort of natural electoral pendulum would restore the party to power eventually. Watching SF in power, she simply did not accept that, and speaking in a debate in UCD (in what the media would call The Belfield Platform) she took no prisoners and outlined a broadly right wing view of how Ireland should proceed.

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What if…Putin detonates a nuclear weapon in Ukraine?

It’s not impossible. Vladimir Putin, facing stalemate or possibly even defeat by a better motivated and well-resourced Ukrainian army, might decide to play the “madman” card.

A small, low-yield tactical nuclear weapon, detonated in a low population rural part of Ukraine. Not a military act, but a political one, to cause panic in the nuclear-phobic West and particularly in western Europe.

The message would be clear: I am willing to go further than you, so give me what I want. Stop helping Ukraine and let me defeat them. 

It’s a high-risk strategy, but also a viable one. The panic it will cause in NATO will be very real, and the response not automatic or even obvious. The idea that NATO will automatically respond with a like-for-like nuclear retaliation should not be assumed at all.

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What would the platform of an Irish Centre-Right candidate who wasn’t afraid to lose look like?

In 1972’s “The Candidate” Robert Redford plays the role of Bill McKay, a progressive lawyer who agrees to be the token Democratic candidate in a Senate election where the Republican incumbent is regarded as a shoo-in. McKay agrees to run purely to be allowed raise the unfashionable liberal issues he espouses. It’s only when polls show he’s going to be humiliated does he start tacking towards the inoffensive bland. The closer he gets to winning, the more meaningless the campaign becomes. 

One of the curios of Irish politics is that those politicians who might be regarded as on the centre-right in Ireland are almost always unwilling to not only admit it but defend those values. When Leo Vardakar lauded people who go to work in the morning he was not only attacked for being anti-welfare but refused to give a full-throated defence. The Irish centre-right has allowed the left to get a psychological drop on it, that its values are morally inferior and less representative of the Irish people.

As a result, candidates on the centre-right are convinced that their values are definite vote losers. They may well be right, at least at the moment. But a nation’s political mainstream isn’t set in stone. Being pro-choice was once political death in Ireland. Advocating same-sex marriage would have  been a surreal position. The political mainstream can move, but only if a new mainstream is openly advocated, even if it is an electorally less popular one initially. 

What would an honestly advocated centre-right platform sound like? 

1. There is no shame in workers wanting to pay less of their wages in tax. It’s their money.

2. We should be proud of our social welfare system as a safety net, but not a voluntary lifestyle. People who work harder should be rewarded more. Those incapable of contributing should be cared for by society through a social safety net. Those capable but unwilling to contribute should be left to their own devices.

3. The rights of people to safeguard their possessions and walk the streets of their town or city without fear of physical attack should be greater than the rights of someone with 57 previous convictions.

4. Immigration is good for a country. A well-managed immigration policy is good for a country.  There is a mathematical limit to how many new residents a country can absorb without lowering living standards of existing residents.

5. The primary source of the safety of a country and its people from foreign attack in whatever form is that country’s national security capabilities. Alliances with other countries are a bonus, not a substitute.

6. The right to offend and be offended is the cornerstone of a free society.   

7. The primary priority of a public body is the efficient delivery of the service it was recreated to provide, not the terms and conditions of its employees.

8. The increased physical supply of affordable housing units will resolve housing needs faster than a nominal right to housing. This is a fact.

9. Threats to human freedom come from the extremists of both the far-right and the far-left. Both need to be watched vigilantly. 

What if…a right-wing populist was elected President of Ireland (Part 2.)

Previously in the future…

http://jasonomahony.ie/what-if-a-right-wing-populist-was-elected-president-of-ireland/#more-19793

 

A populist right-wing former radio pundit has narrowly been elected President of Ireland, to the shock and disgust of certain parts of Irish society. The Taoiseach has visited the new president to remind him of his constitutional duty to sign new legislation…

The president placed the constitution on the table.

“That says you need my signature on every bill.”

“It also says you are required to promulgate every bill,” the Taoiseach said. Her attorney general had drilled the point into her.

“Whatever promulgate means. But what if I refuse to sign? Are you going to get a few lads in balaclavas to force my hand across the page?”

She ignored the jibe.

“No, article 14 is very clear. If you refuse to carry out any function, a commission consisting of the chief justice, ceann comhairle and cathoirleach can sign instead.”

“Grand, then. That effectively means I can publicly reject legislation without bringing down the country?”

The Taoiseach shrugged.

The following weeks saw the president, a prolific Twitter and Tik Tok user during the campaign, use the social platform for relatively mild observations. It was only when a new hate speech bill was put before the Oireachtas that he stirred.

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What if…a right-wing populist was elected President of Ireland?

When He announced his candidacy there was much laughter in the usual circles. The idea that a “washed up” radio presenter and sports pundit could be elected president was, it was agreed in the circles that mattered, ridiculous. The New Ireland was not going to elect Trump on the Liffey.

The ruling Sinn Fein/Fianna Fail/Social Democrat government wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about even holding a presidential election, as the shiny new thing aura had come off the government and feelers had been put out to the opposition about an agreed candidate, Now Is Not the Time For Division, etc. But FG, Labour and the Greens weren’t having it. The race was on.

The first surprise was the three leaders of the coalition announcing that they would be all endorsing a single coalition candidate, and that given the flaky wobbliness of the Social Democrats remaining in government when actually confronted with policy choices, both SF and FF conceded and backed a former one-term Soc Dem TD and now senator renowned for being at the cutting edge of Irish progressivism. Her supporters, gathering at the launch of her campaign in the Merrion Hotel (Vegan nibbles only) were almost giddy at the idea of her taking on the misogynist, racist transphobe radio presenter, and delivering a clean killer blow to the Old Ireland. “It’s such a pity HE won’t be on the ballot!” she announced to cheers and jazz hands (Clapping was banned for being too aggressive) from the crowd.

 FG surprised all by not nominating a former Taoiseach and instead a former MEP who was “very good” and instantly forgettable.

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The Govt needs to educate voters. The new Electoral Commission should take up the job.

Last week I had to explain to a grown adult what happens if the government were to give every Irish adult a cash handout to combat rising prices. This was not an unintelligent person, just someone who had never had a reason to formally study economics. But it raised an issue with me: how can our political leaders provide leadership on inflation when possibly a majority of voters do not know what inflation is actually caused by. It’s true, economists are arguing over what is causing inflation from massive central bank printing of cash to Covid/Ukraine impact on supply chains. But one thing is certain: put €1000 cash into every Irish adults hand and price inflation will jump sharply as the extra cash pursues limited supply of product and services thus pushing up prices.
Inflation is just the latest public policy area where the level the public is informed about the issues affects the quality of the debate. I’ve met people who believe TDs pay no taxes and that 50% of the national budget is spent on Oireachtas salaries.

It’s actually 0.14%.

47% is spent just on social welfare and health.

These aren’t party political talking points: they are actual facts whether you’re Sinn Fein or Fine Gael.

A key component of a mature and healthy democracy is a well-informed electorate. It is as important to democratic stability as clean and fair elections. The new Electoral Commission should be tasked (and funded adequately for) with a rolling advertising campaign not only to ensure that voters know where to register and how to vote, and to analyse election results, but also with ensuring all voters are familiar with key non-partisan information they should know when deciding whom to vote for.

Who pays taxes and by how much? Who doesn’t?

How our homeless rates and social welfare payments compare with other comparable countries.

How many of our people live below the poverty line, and what the definition of poverty actually is.

As part of the process, there’s nothing to stop any political party asking that certain verified facts be included in the campaign, within context.

Indeed, parties should even have a right to publicly request that specific facts not be included. 

There are some who will argue that such a task as this is the media’s job, not the state’s. I disagree, in the same way that I disagree with those who say only the private sector should be involved in education.

An educated population is the first line of defence against manipulation by evil forces, and as a result, it is certainly something our taxes should be spent on.  

What if…blue state governors decided to implement the Second Amendment in full?

 

 

The meeting between the Governors of California, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, and ten other states were effectively a formality. The final details of a document had already been negotiated by their political staff, and the decision to meet in Independence Hall, in the Pennsylvania state house was deliberate.

The Independence Hall Compact, or IHC as it was called was purposely launched in the same place both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed.

The governor of New Mexico was chosen to lead the press conference to avoid the impression that it was just north-eastern states traditionally liberal states that had signed the agreement.

The governor introduced the group, and explained the core objective. Gun crime was out of control, and action had to be taken. The hard-right US Supreme Court had essentially ruled that the Second Amendment prevented significant action against individual gun owners.

In that light, the governor announced, they were going to try something new. They were going to enforce a plain text reading of the Second Amendment, in full, in their states.

“The amendment is very clear. It reads “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” We shall defend and apply the amendment to the letter. We shall require every gunowner to register and train with state militias that we shall form, as the amendment demands.”

The response from Fox News and others on the right was hysterical. Right-wing scholars were quick to point out that many jurists believed that the first section of the amendment was merely an observation, as opposed to an obligation.

The governor addressed this head on.

Quite simply, he said, we disagree. We are going to require every loyal citizen of our states, who owns a gun, to play their role as required of them by the Founding Fathers. We will insist that the Second Amendment be respected in full.

The plans were well-advanced, and ready to go within days of the launch. The new militias would be locally-based, and headed up by retired veterans and former US Marine drill sergeants, and the first meetings were relaxed affairs where many legal gunowners just turned up to understand what the plan was.

The governors had been very careful in their preparation: the first meetings were very informal, and more akin to well-run gun clubs. Locals were asked to vouch for each other, and many of the militias were immediately challenging neighboring militias to good-natured shooting competitions. Every meeting started with the officer in charge stressing they were not there to take anybody’s guns, but to encourage good practice and responsible ownership. Requests for LGBTQ and other minority militia groups were agreed to, and soon those militias were being trained and drilled.

One black militia group decided to drill in tailor-made uniforms based on the US Army civil war blues. The sight of 200 black men and women marching with AR15s behind a poster of Lincoln and John Brown, singing the Battle Cry of Freedom, sent the resident hysteric on Fox News into emotional breakdown, and he screamed at the camera that this was a communist plot and called on all gunowners to refuse to participate.

Many gunowners were indeed suspicious, but the vast majority of gunowners in America are also law-abiding, and indeed many of them felt that the NRA was not speaking for them.

A particular incident in Virginia set the tone for the proposal when a group of far-right NRA supporters turned up at a meeting with the intention of disrupting it. The scene was familiar, a group of angry people in body armour and brandishing semi-automatic rifles, standing about as if they were some sort of security force.

When they attempted to enter the local community hall being used for the event, the commandant of the militia, a retired marine colonel, stopped them at the door to inquire were they coming with the intention of registering themselves and their weapons to join the militia?

When the expletives started he refused them entry. Things got heated, and he gave the signal. Suddenly, the intruders found themselves surrounded by the state militia, all shielded behind walls and vehicles and pointing their guns at them. A local news team filmed the event, and the withdrawal at speed of the hardliners unused to not being the only armed group on the scene provided much material for late night comedians.

The NRA and the Republicans vowed to take the actions of the governors to the Supreme Court, and pundits predicted that the court would indeed rule that the governors were wrong. But as one pundit pointed out: by the time the court does strike down the law, the state militias will be active, with thousands of moderate legal gunowners who will have found that it is not a plot to take their guns but also a place for friendship and sensible gun practice, and at worse the court can strike down the requirement to join a militia, but not the militias themselves. The fact that all militia members had access to a confidential line to report someone they felt should not have a gun resulted in a lot of tip-offs to state police, and stopped a number of potential mass shootings.

As for the issue as to what states should do with those gun owners who refuse to register with their local militia, the state police were quick to target extremists and move against them, whilst writing to most others inviting them to join. The social side of the state militia, with the inter-militia competitions, focus on training of civilians in sensible gun ownership and family BBQs, all funded by the state governments, ensured that the membership of the militias grew steadily. The elevation of the militia shooting championships into a national competition also spiked membership by appealing to Americans’ inherent competitiveness.

The raids by SWAT teams on targeted extremists was leapt on by the far-right as proof of “they’re coming for our guns!” but the governors were quick to juxtapose those men with their Nazi flags and the families at State Militia events enjoying themselves, their weapons safely holstered, prizes been awarded for shooting excellence, and huge amounts of BBQ being devoured.

In non-militia states the debates went in unusual directions. The sight of black, Hispanic, gay and Islamic Americans drilling with semi-automatic weapons caused alarm and calls for state militias to be formed in those states, which in turn created states problems as they had passed knee jerk laws to ban state militias and any form of registration or list taking “by the guvm’nt” after the IHC.

“How the hell am I supposed to form a state militia when I’m barred by law from writing anybody’s name down?” The Mississippi Secretary of State asked.

When the case finally reached the Supreme Court, the California attorney general led the case against the Texas AG. The California case was straight forward: a plain text reading of the amendment at best does link gun ownership and militia ownership, and at worst this is a case for the states to decide. She summed up by being very blunt: in her opinion, it is not just the Second Amendment on trial here but the court itself. The court overturned Roe Vs Wade by saying it wasn’t up to judges to legislate, and the letter of the constitution must be kept to.

“If you overturn the compact, your honours, the message is clear. That the court is effectively a partisan third chamber of the legislature, bending from states rights and plain text to judicial activism as it suits the pursuit of a specific political agenda. This is a matter for the states to decide. The wording is clear, and your ruling will tell us whether you are a court of impartiality, or a de facto House of Republican Lords.”

What if…the United States held a national referendum on gun rights?

Let us be clear: there is no mechanism in the United States constitution to amend the constitution by popular national referendum. A change requires a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress and then three-fourths of the state legislatures to adopt the amendment.

It simply ain’t going to happen, because the United States is not a popular democracy like, say, Ireland or France. It was designed to protect the sovereignty of states (although not the right to leave the union. It’s not the EU!) and let’s be honest: the Founding Fathers tried to design a system to keep out the likes of Trumpolini.

That system, of giving the small states the protection of the Senate and a super majority to amend has worked as intended. But it has also created a situation where a clear urban majority of the population can be held at gunpoint (literally) by a rural minority. 

What’s to be done? Just accept the next mass shooting (which, I promise you, will happen within 72 hours of my posting this blog) as the American way of life? Or is it time for a fresh approach.

There’s no point liberals saying “get rid of guns”. That is not going to happen because the majority of Americans do believe in gun rights. But by the same extent, there are plenty of responsible gun owners who do not share the extremism of the NRA and would support storage laws, restriction of certain guns, red flag laws and gun registration. 

What if the states with gun control majorities decided to hold a statewide referendum on the same day in each state. It’s not impossible that 15-20 states could agree to such a proposal, with anything up to 150m eligible to vote on the day. 

But what to vote on? What if the states in question agreed the wording of a new second amendment. Now, that in itself would be a huge challenge, and so requiring of detail as to make the revised amendment even more complicated and open to Supreme Court interpretation. 

What if instead the proposal is aimed not at placating one side of the other, but recognizing a reality of today’s America. What if the amendment said something like:

“The interpretation of the Second Amendment as it applies within a state shall be decided by the state legislature of that state, and only by the state legislature.”

What does that mean? It means Texas can continue to permit AR15s whilst New York can ban them. It means that, on this issue, neither state can impose its prevailing culture on the other. It’s a huge lean towards States Rights, traditionally a source of anti-progressive foot dragging, but that’s no longer the reality. The US is now made up of progressive and populist (I won’t say conservative. Conservatism doesn’t really exist in the party system anymore) states and it’s time for liberals to look again at States Rights in terms of creating liberal bastions and refuges.   

That’s all well and good, says you, but even if you could get both sides to agree to that compromise, and even it it passed in state-wide plebiscites, it still means nothing in terms of the US constitution nor the US Supreme Court.

Again, all true. But this will allow governors and state legislatures of the states that pass such an amendment by popular vote to claim a popular and democratic mandate to ignore the Second Amendment at state level and dare the federal government to do something about it.

But let’s be clear what we are talking about. I do not believe there is majority support, even in dark blue states, for abolishing the right to bear arms. There is support for gun control, and they are not the same thing. The sort of reforms that setting aside a populist reading of the Second Amendment would allow are about banning certain military weapons, etc but would still leave unchanged the rights of the great majority of gunowners holding sporting weapons or handguns for home protection. On top of that, a period of buyback could be allowed, and it could even be possible to permit those who already hold AR15s to be permitted to keep them provided they comply with background checks and storage requirements. Worse case scenario, they can move to Texas. 

Opponents of such proposals warn in dark tones that such a policy could result in an insurrection by armed militias of bitter people, but that sort of proves the point. These angry heavily-armed people are exactly the sort of people who should be living near schools in Texas, not Massachusetts. Anti-gun control Texas parents will welcome them with open arms.

In fact, I’d go one step further. Blue states could pay them to move to Texas. I’m sure Greg Abbott will be delighted to have them. Everybody wins.    

12 facts an Irish Govt TD should make sure their voters know.

1. The size of the total annual national budget.
2. The size of the Oireachtas budget, incl pensions, as a % of that.
3. The size of the Social welfare budget.
4. The total cost of the Government jet.
5. The amount of tax paid in commercial rates by businesses annually.
6. The annual amount of income tax paid by employees of FDI companies.
7. The comparable salary of an NHS nurse and a HSE nurse.
8. The comparable state pension paid in the UK and here.
9. The comparable Dole payment paid in the UK and here.
10. The % of total income tax paid by the top 10% of earners, and the bottom 25% of earners.
11. The highest number of people on trollies in Irish hospitals on a single day.
12. The highest number of people treated by the HSE in a single day.