US election night in Dublin's Sugar Club
The final moments of the 2012 US Presidential Race are playing out thousands of miles away, but that hasn’t stopped the Irish from getting in on some of that excitement.
Ex-pats and political enthusiasts alike are gathered at The Sugar Club in Dublin tonight to debate, watch the latest developments live on CNN, hear from panelists and, of course, get in a few laughs to lighten the unbearable tension.
Host Paddy Cullivan kicked off the night with a quick vote by hands among those gathered. Unsurprisingly, only one hand was raised in support of challenger Mitt Romney and was answered by laughs and shouts.
Hopelessly outnumbered in more than just the club, the initial lone supporter and those that later made themselves known can count on backup from very few in Ireland.
Ireland was among Mr Obama’s strongest supporters in a Win-Gallup International survey back in September.
Things were considerably more balanced on stage as panelists bantered back and forth about everything from the reliability of the polls to fundraising to foreign policy to who really killed Osama Bin Laden.
“With Romney’s plan millions will die outside of America,” said economist Constantin Gurdgiev said at one point. “With Obama’s plan millions will die in America.”
“Nothing kills people like healthcare,” Abie Philbin Bowman, comedian and broadcaster, shot back.
Another issue on the minds of those in the crowd and on stage was the gridlock in Washington caused by a president and a congress that don’t always see eye-to-eye.
“An American president, you also have to realise, they don’t actually have that much power, while they’re in the office,” said audience member Reuben Cohen. “You can’t pass anything if you have a Congress that doesn’t want to work with you, and that’s what happened to Obama.”
Dr Jane Suiter, a political scientist and lecturer in Dublin City University School of Communications, echoed the sentiment during her panel, saying congress had been particularly obstructive during Mr Obama’s term and also noting its place in America’s system to prevent a “runaway executive.”
“Americans do like their checks and balances,” she said.
Along that same thread, the division in America and the hatred of Mr Obama by some was also addressed during the last discussion.
“People aren’t going out to vote for Romney, they’re voting against Obama,” said Cllr Rebecca Moynihan, pointing also to Americans voting for John Kerry simply because he wasn’t George W Bush.
Throughout the night, panelists, which included Marc Coleman, Dr John Gallagher, Senator Paul Bradford and Senator Mark Daly appeared to be equally gridlocked on issues.
John McGuirk even dished out a few “shut ups” to his fellow panelists, so he could proclaim he was so confident in a Romney victory that he had about €700 riding on it.
In between and after panel discussions, attendees were free to watch live coverage by CNN and wait for what they hoped to be an Obama victory.
“I’m here because I wanted to be in a big public gathering to watch it, so I can gauge everyone’s reactions and hopefully be in a celebratory context when it hopefully goes Obama’s way,” said Katie McCarthy, who is a political aide in London. “And if it doesn’t then we can all commiserate.”