This is my first diary so please be kind...
The role of Irish-Americans has received some attention from the media but, in general, the Irish vote has been discussed as part of the 'white working class' we've all been hearing so much about in Pennsylvania. This voting block is considered to be the bedrock of Hillary Clinton's support and much of the discussion of the results of the primary will focus on how many Obama manages to peel away from her as they have been particularly resistant to him.
But there's a subtext to the 'white working class won't vote for Obama' meme that the Irish-Americans are beginning to take issue with.
Irish-Americans make up 17.66% of the population of PA, and (from my own estimation) roughly about a third of the democratic electorate. This group goes overwhelmingly for Clinton.
A poster named Glic has diaried the latest McClatchy/Mason-Dixon poll http://www.dailykos.com/... which includes the following demographic breakdown:
Clinton snags the Catholic vote, 63-30%, and Obama takes Protestants by almost the same margin: 60-31%.
There are number of probable reasons for Clinton's strong support from this group which would proportionately trend older, poorer, and more socially conservative. Bill Clinton also played a pivotal role in the Northern-Irish peace process and more generally is considered a 'good friend' to Ireland. In fact, during his presidency, Bill Clinton came to be treated as almost an honorary Irish-man and was met by a crowd of 100,000 people in Dublin in 1995 (population of Dublin at the time was around one million). So this fondness for Bill cannot be discounted. But it is true there may also be a racial element to their choice, a fact which has dismayed younger and more open-minded Irish-Americans.
In the 4/18/08 edition of in the Irish Echo, "the USA's most widely read Irish-American newspaper", the Irish-American Writers and Artists' Association took out a full-page add to endorse Barack Obama.
The endorsement itself is very complimentary stating that :
Senator Obama represents the best hope for achieving an America that includes all - and leaves no one out - an America that slaves and immigrants alike dreamed would one day include their children. We believe he can inspire and lead the struggle for social justice, civil rights, and equality of opportunity. We see in him a continuation and reaffirmation of the movement John F. Kennedy helped to foster and for which Martin Luther King Jnr. and Robert Kennedy gave their lives.
But they also take issue with the subtext of much of the MSM's coverage of the primary, that Irish-Americans are voting against Obama because Irish-Americans are racists:
Here, at a crucial moment in the history of the Democratic Party and the United States, we the undersigned Irish American writers and artists believe it is important to set the record straight. We will not sit idly by while some in the media and chattering class use the phrase 'white working class' as a code for 'Irish working-class racism.' We are the descendants of the generations of Irish working-class women and men who helped build this country, nurse its sick, care for its children, work its mines, and police its streets. We wholeheartedly endorse Barack Obama on his quest for the Presidency of the United States.
It is important that we confront this imputation and the tacit legitimization of racial voting by the MSM. To many of Irish descent, it is not ok, it is shameful that that is being seen as representative of Irish-American attitudes. The parallels between the discrimination JFK faced as a Catholic in 1960 and Obama faces now as an African-American are striking and the sense that the Irish are on the other side of the divide this time is particularly disappointing to me, as an Obama supporter.
The endorsement has already received attention in Ireland, a country which, along with the rest of Europe, is very enthusiastic about the future President Obama. Ireland is a very different place today than it was when the ancestors of many of those who now calls themselves Irish-Americans sought a better life across the Atlantic, it is now a central player in EU multi-culturalism and the foremost software developer in the EU.
In fact, Ireland is on the Obama-train and they're already claiming him as one of their own, hopefully in time the Irish in America will follow suit:
I predict that when President Barack Obama makes his first trip to Ireland he will be greeted by a crowd of much more than 100,000.