We had about 50 people come to the Radisson Blue in Galway yesterday to talk about the possibility of an Irish version of a tea-party movement. It was a very diverse group, everyone from college kids to retirees (or “pensioners,” I believe they’d say). Given that the first tea party was organized by just one woman in Washington State, that’s a good start.
The Galwegians I spoke with agreed on three things:
1. Ireland is in much worse shape economically than the U.S. They could be watching an entire generation of prosperity slip away.
2. The biggest obstacle to a grassroots citizens uprising is the citizenry itself. Apathy, a belief among many Irish people that political and economic dysfunction is the natural order, the average Irishman’s general discomfort with activism itself, etc.
3. They hate the label “tea party.” I’m still pushing for “whiskey rebellion,” but it’s definitely a work in progress.
We’ve got another gathering scheduled for Dublin on Sunday. But it’s a strange feeling listening to Europeans speak with jealousy about the superior American political system. “You Yanks can do things we just can’t,” one older gentleman told me. “Our government even tells us when we get to vote!”
Another Galwegian pointed out that, because of their party-driven system, “if Arlen Specter were in Ireland, he’d still have a job.”