It’s not that far fetched, you know. I’m not saying it’s easy, and there is a substantial chunk of the country who will never vote for “one of dem fellas”, but hear me out.
First, getting a nomination. Norris needs 20 Oireachtas signatures, or four county councils to nominate him. Could he get a majority on the four Dublin county councils? I don’t know. But the 20 Oireachtas members is a more interesting matter. Firstly, there are the 9 members of the Green Party. They’re crucial, and it would be an easy way for them to publicly give two fingers to FF by supporting Norris and showing that they haven’t forgotten their progressive roots. It all depends on their willingness to recognise that it is not their job (or a vote winner) to keep FF happy. Then there are the university senators, and a number of TDs from south Dublin cosntituencies. Why would they vote for him, you ask, quite fairly. Ah, I say, there’s the thing: The beauty of this is that, unlike most things in Irish politics, where TDs and senators shake their fists in the air and “call” for things, this is something they have complete power to do. If Ivana Bacik, or Ciaran Cuffe, or Joe O’Toole refuses to sign his nomination papers, they are nominal liberals actively taking a stand to prevent a gay candidate running in the election. They have the power, and Norris should not be afraid to point that out to their liberal voters, and call them if they fail to step up. After all, can you imagine if Ivana Bacik had refused to sign Mary Robinson’s papers? Don’t forget, there is a get out of jail card for them here. He’s not asking for their endorsement, just help to get his name on the ballot. Why on Earth would self avowed liberals be against letting the Irish people make the final call in an election?
If he can cobble together the 20 signatures, there’s the campaign itself. The thing about Irish presidential elections is that they are A) all about personality, and B) Irish voters ask themselves a question when they elect a president. Will this person make a show of us abroad, particularly in front of the Brits? That’s the Norris trump card that he needs to play in the election. Yes, he is gay, but no need to make a big deal about that. He has the liberal vote anyway, and the foriegn media will make the “Is Ireland about to elect the World’s first elected gay head of state?” story, which will go down nicely in the UK media which we pay attention to. In fact, if the crazies in the UK or the US kick off, that’ll do him no harm. The key to a Norris victory is the other side of what he offers, the witty, urbane, well-educated, snappily-dressed side. We want him to stand beside the Brits and make them feel a bit common and a bit stupid. Will the other candidates offer that? If he can offer that to the Irish people, it’s game on.