“While voting in the Irish marriage equality referendum yesterday it occured to me how much the United States could learn from Ireland about democracy.
First was the fact that this was a refrendum on changing our constitution, making that document a living, adaptable thing capable of change, growth and development. Contrast that with the rigidity of the US constitution, ever-fixed, unchanging and worshipped on it’s historical pedestal and incapable of progression within the current US politcal climate.
That political climate is also a major difference between Irish and US democracy. Ireland’s campaining and campaign-finance laws made this a fair competition, with both sides having fair access to the media and with special interests minimised. Perhaps as a result (and with a few, minor, exceptions), Ireland’s marriage referendum was conducted in an air of civility, respect and even humour, not just in the media, but in Facebook conversations and Twitter feeds. America can learn from this.
Finally, I was impressed by how easy and fair it is to vote in Ireland. Registration is easy and heavily promoted without regard to party, and even if you’re not registered you can just swear an oath that you’re elegible. There are almost no lineups at polling stations (media reported that SOME stations had lineups to the door at peak times). Everybody has access to the counts where votes are counted.
The ‘greatest country in the world’ could learn from this example.” GC