I had lunch recently with a friend who told me about how strongly his wife felt about abortion, where she was firmly on the pro-choice side of the issue. He then pointed how much she rated a particular local TD.
I furrowed my brow, pointing out that the deputy in question had made some pretty incendiary remarks opposing abortion. I even showed him a link online to an article confirming the deputy’s stance. He was shocked, and suggested that his wife was going to be furious. But it got me thinking: how was it that an intelligent informed woman was not aware that a deputy she considered voting for was diametrically opposed on an issue she rated as very important to her?
One reason was that the Irish media’s coverage of politics tends to be personality rather than values based. Even at election time, media outlets rarely analyse candidates based on specific values or stances on issues, instead listing out party stances based on the technical promises in their manifestos. Which media outlet, for example, maintains a permanent online and verified list of deputies with regard to their stances on abortion or gay marriage, or favouring increased taxes over cuts in spending?
In the US, the NRA not only maintains that list, but advises its members as to which politicians support the NRA agenda. Same with pro-choice, pro-life, election finance reform, and civil liberties issues, all which have organisations willing to inform voters and endorse candidates as to their stance on what issue.
Why haven’t we got that here? One reason would be that Irish politicians are horrified at the idea, and will refuse to cooperate, but so what? Make a call based on their public statements, and offer to correct their position if they request.
Such a site would become quite popular quite quickly, I suspect, from people on either side of an issue.