I told Frank on the U105 morning show during the week that we really ought not to treat the strange antics of Trump this week as something peculiar to the US. Populism (or to give it Jonathan Hopkins’ more precise term ‘anti system politics‘.
I’ll have a lot more to say about this during the week, but for now, first words to Eoghan Harris and his column in the Sunday Independent this morning (I almost never post on a weekend, but I think this needs wide readership):
How can our media mandarins, who bang on about Trump, miss the similarity between the scenes at Capitol Hill and Sinn Féin triumphalism after the general election?
Like Trump, Sinn Féin carried on as if the election had been stolen from them.
Like Trump, they publicly vented their contempt for the institutions of their country – who can forget Davy Cullinane at the RDS deriding the ‘Free State’ and shouting “up the RA”?
Like Trump, they abused social media to undermine their political opponents as in the Twitter hashtag #NotMyTaoiseach.
Like Trump, Mary Lou McDonald called for nationwide rallies to force SF into government.
Five months after the election, SF TD Thomas Gould, still in Trumpian denial, tweeted: “Mary Lou McDonald is my Taoiseach.”
It was not until June that Mary Lou McDonald publicly conceded Sinn Féin had no entitlement to be in government.
Sinn Féin’s arrogance was assisted by soft media commentary which failed to call out its Trumpian pretensions.
Before the election, two influential commentators, David McWilliams and Fintan O’Toole, told us we should bring SF into government. That can be excused as naivete.
But what is their excuse for not excoriating Sinn Féin after the election and calling it out for its mass rallies and its subversive attitude to the State?
They also failed to show that Trump and Sinn Féin share the same ideological root: nationalism.
I believe with every bone in my body that nationalism, American or Irish, is always toxic because, as Orwell pointed out, nationalism is about hating some other country whereas patriotism is about loving your own.
Short of invaders landing on our shores there is never an excuse for toxic nationalism – and even then patriotism is enough.
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Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty