Downpatrick Councillor Cadogan Enright has witnessed first-hand Barack Obama’s victory in the race to become President of the United States. Cadogan was in the President-elect Obama’s home state of Illinois over the past fortnight observing the elections on behalf of the Green Party.
Cadogan is the director of elections for the party in NI and on the Green Party team coordinating the European elections across Scotland, England and Wales and both parts of Ireland.
A computer expert, Cllr Enright’s particular task was to learn the operation of the new internet-based electioneering computer systems originally developed by Howard Dean but perfected by Presedent-elect Barack Obama’s election team.
Cadogan Enright said, “There are many aspects in the two different systems operated by Obama’s team that could be very useful for political parties in Ireland. There are also aspects of the systems that would be unacceptable, given the extraordinary level of detail they are allowed to store about potential voters.”
“There are also big cultural diffferences that may make these systems more useful in the USA. The belief that ordinary people have the ability to change political outcomes is far stronger in the USA, and there is a lot less begrudgery. The average voter is more inclined to believe that thier views matter, which is suprising given that we have proportional representation here at home and they have the British-style system of “first past the post. Donating small sums to your political party, especially the Democratic party, that far exceeds anything we see at home”.
Cllr Enright continued, “I was quite stunned to see the level of neighbourhood-based activity, mostly by people not members of any political party, co-ordinated over the web. Groups were organised in areas of only 150 to 250 houses and the number of people working on Obama’s campaign was estimated to be over one million. I have never seen anything like it.”
“The Obama campaign also resulted in a huge number of spin-off gains on local councils, at county level, for State campaigns and for the Senate and Congress. If Irish parties are to adopt a similar approach it would require a complete re-think about how we do politics. The big celebration in Chicago on Tuesday night was very moving” concluded cllr Enright.
Press Cuttings: Councillor in USA to observe Presidential elections