'After his first experience of election season in Ireland, Blogger Trevis L Gleason has some observations'
Well, first let me say that I’ve yet to figure out just how the whole ballot sorting business is carried out here in Ireland. That may take a few election cycles to get my American head around.
One thing I found impressive during the open campaign season was the engagement by both my neighbors and those running for office. I learned much about the candidates, the parties and the process in these past few weeks. Perhaps what impressed me the most was that all of the messages got out without the rancor of political adverts on radio and television that I’m used to back in America.
I took advantage of the candidates or their proxies showing up at my front gate to ask them questions I felt related to people living with MS. I was rather surprised by the responses (and lack thereof).
None of the candidates or party representatives who showed up at the end of my bóithrín was willing to come out in support of death with dignity legislation (though a couple did say it was worth studying on a constitutional level). The idea of medical marijuana use in Ireland was firmly quashed at my gate front by the canvassers.
When I asked about the mobility and transport allowance debacle, I got blame for other parties or “it’s something which needs to be sorted” responses.
In short, I found that no one who came to my house looking for votes seemed to a) know much about our disease, b) be in support of any of the issues I find legislatively appropriate when it comes to living with MS or c) have expected discussion on topics beyond their polling told them to prepare.
I’ve heard and read of stories with people becoming (justifiably) angry with agency employees, contractors and people simply carrying out policy. Why is it that we don’t seem to hold elected officials directly responsible for issues that hit us closest to home? Why aren’t we pushing those in Government who write legislation to take up our cause or ignore us at their electoral peril? Do we think that the issues are going to address themselves?
Judging by the reactions I received on the lengthening spring evenings when the parties came a calling; self-address isn’t going to happen.
What do you think people with MS should do to get our points across to Council chambers, Leinster House and beyond?
Wishing you and your family the best of health.