Hello to all the Advertiser readers. As I am writing this, in the very early hours of Wednesday morning, it looks like Trump is in the White House. Students are back in school, and Ireland is king of the rugby world. Now, how is all that for a starter paragraph to my usually placid weekly column?
Let’s begin at the beginning. At time of writing, it is not yet clear if Donald Trump has won the White House race, but Morning Ireland, which has been on all night and restarted again at 6am this morning, is inching more and more to the view that yes, Donald Trump has made it to be president of the United States. I am not really surprised because he, with his rhetoric, has tapped into emotions which are felt by voters throughout the world, as evidenced in the national elections of many countries.
The first thing to be said is that the polls got it wrong again. All last week they were shouting out the percentage advantage that Hillary Clinton had in each state, but again they were wrong. The pollsters were wrong on Brexit, and they were wrong on general elections here. They were wrong because when a person doing an election poll approaches a voter, who’s to say that voter will tell the truth? They don’t have to, they can say what they like. I have long had a deep distrust of election polls and this election result, if Donald Trump makes it, bears out my distrust of polls.
When Donald Trump started out on his path to the presidential election, most people decided he hadn’t a chance and were inclined to portray him as a cartoon type figure in contrast with the measured, agreeable voice of Hillary Clinton. And yet, and yet and yet, Donald Trump, all over the states of the US, touched chords with people that no one could have dreamt up. Voters didn’t like the elitism of Washington, they didn’t like the elitism of the ruling classes, they didn’t like the idea of privilege the Clintons exuded. They turned to the underdog even though, at times, his rhetoric was utterly hateful, and yet he touched people with his talk of jobs, resurgence in towns which had become rundown, and all of the other talk.
By the time you read this, it will be crystal clear who has won the presidency race, but as of now it looks like Donald Trump has it made. I feel for Hillary Clinton as I would feel for any defeated candidate in an election. She’s got to pick herself up and face the world again and that is always an extremely difficult thing to do. But I think she has the resilience within her to do it and she will have her husband and her daughter and family with her as she embarks on this rocky road. Of course the rest of the world will be predicting that we’ll all be doomed if and when Donald Trump becomes the president. But remember it is democracy; the people have voted for him and that’s that.
It seems the people of the US didn’t like showy politics and they went for the ordinary stuff instead. Witness the wonderful concert of support whipped up in Philadelphia last week by Hillary Clinton with all of the stars of screen and stage with her to give loud support to her campaign. It didn’t work and there are lessons in this result for the political classes in every country. Less of the showy, stagey carry on, more concern for ordinary people and their everyday woes and troubles.
Now to home affairs. The students are back in school as of this Wednesday morning and I am so glad. Now I know in many readers’ households there will be a young student who would have been looking forward to the vista of free days stretching into the future. Now they have had to pack their bags, go for the school bus and away into school. I know that in Aengus and Lisa O’Rourke’s household in Athlone there’s a disgruntled 13-year-old (14 at Christmas ) getting ready to trundle up the path to catch the school bus and to go into the Marist College.
But seriously, I am so very glad that the students are back at school. I’m glad because they will not be losing out on very important schoolwork. They will not be losing out on exams to come, on projects to be done, and all of the daily carry-on that goes on in our wonderful secondary schools. I’m glad, also, that the ASTI saw sense and agreed to third party intervention and I hope that intervention will work where it seems days and days and days of talks between the ASTI and the officials in each Government department did not work. So, strap on the schoolbags and knuckle down again boys and girls!
Let’s turn now to an even more delightful subject and that is the great win by the Irish rugby team against New Zealand/All Blacks in Chicago last week. I didn’t see it on TV and most of the people to whom I’ve spoken didn’t see it either, but we exulted in the wonderful 40-29 result. They were playing in Chicago where the Chicago Cubs had just secured a wonderful victory a few days beforehand, so they rode in on that crest of triumph and then brought that wonderful triumph for Ireland, erasing 111 years of defeat by New Zealand against Ireland. Imagine! Victory after 111 years!
It was a powerful result for Irish rugby and we in Athlone were so pleased with the tremendous performance by Robbie Henshaw. He was reckoned to be the hero of the match and, reading all accounts, that appears to be the case. We are so very proud of that fine young man, now only 23 years of age and a product of the Marist College in Athlone and of Connaught rugby. Well done Robbie, our faith in you is high and our hopes for the future for you are even higher.
Joe Schmidt is back in charge of the Irish rugby team and he is truly a remarkable manager/coach - particularly when we hear that New Zealand were trying to woo him back and I’m so glad that they failed in that attempt. We have the winter of rugby to look forward to now. I’m sure there will be some defeats but there will also be some sublime victories again similar to the one in Chicago last week.
Certainly, a tumultuous week all round, leaving all of us with plenty of matters to reflect upon and to discuss.
Talk with you all again next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go fóill