The Shameful Legacy of Trump’s Irish American GOP

Brady, Byrne, Cassidy, Cornyn, Collins, Duffy, Dunn, Ferguson, Fitzpatrick, Gallagher, Joyce, Kelly, Kennedy, Long, McCarthy, McCaul, McClintock, McHenry, McConnell, Mooney, Moran, Mullin, Ryan, Rooney, Sullivan, and Toomey.

Sounds like a map of Irish surnames, right?

It’s a list of some of the Irish American members of the GOP House and Senate, plus the former Speaker of the House.

Some of these GOPers probably don’t know a damn thing about their heritage. Sure, they’ll celebrate with some beer in the Rose Garden (you know, the way they did when they voted to steal your healthcare and give tax breaks to America’s version of British landlords), but that’s it. Too bad, because if they cared about their history, they might learn something about desperation, poverty, and discrimination.

Mike Pence (whose immigrant ancestor was a Cawley) and Paul Ryan, however, have been particularly vocal about their Irish roots.

I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of satisfaction out of imagining Pence, the most uptight, homophobic, and blandly evil member of this administration, spending time with Ireland’s gay Taoiseach, Leo Varadker, and his partner. Can you say awkward?  How many times do you think Pence was on the verge of pulling an Irish goodbye?

Paul Ryan is so into being Irish that he thinks he should be Ambassador to Ireland someday.  Sorry, boyo, but you’re going to need the luck o’ the Irish for that.  First, you’re going to have to get another Republican into office, which isn’t going to be easy without Russian interference and voter suppression.

Anyway, since St. Patrick’s Day is Sunday, and every Plastic Paddy in America will be swilling green beer and wearing some dumb-ass t-shirt they bought at Walmart (the biggest abuser of the American worker in the country), let’s take a moment to consider how our proud Irish American political heritage has turned to shite.

Remember when Irish Americans voted Democrat?  That trend is tipping:  in 2016,  52% of Catholics voted Republican, something that has only happened a few times (depending on which polls you read) since 1948.  Granted, not all Catholics are Irish American, but these numbers are telling.

Remember when unskilled workers like poor paddy on the railway and micks in factories and mines worked dangerous jobs and sacrificed their health and lives to American progress for wages that amounted to little more than whiskey (sometimes literally), with no chance of improvement?  Then activists in the American labor movement, led by Irish Americans like Mother Jones, Meany, Boyle, and Powderly (a Republican, back when they were still compassionate), along with Irish American politicians, worked to secure rights for the working class through legislation and union organizing?   That world is disappearing now, thanks to the GOP.

Remember when nineteenth-century Irish immigrants looking for work were discriminated against because of their differences?   Trump’s GOP and its Irish American media enablers like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly have turned No Irish Need Apply into No Muslims or Mexicans Need Apply for Citizenship.   These immigrants just want what our ancestors wanted: “The green fields of Amerikay, they daily are calling.  It’s there I’ll find an end to my misery and strife.”  And yes, they want to enter legally—the way our ancestors did.

Remember when Irish Americans would have revolted against an oligarchy that oppressed them instead of enabling it?  And remember when our ancestors in Ireland actually did that?  The American middle class is being gutted by the greedy, gorging GOP.  It’s feast for the 1% and famine for the rest.

Remember when twentieth-century Irish immigrants came to America because of Ireland’s “backwards” notions about women, divorce, and abortion?  Ireland is way ahead of us now, thanks to the GOP— ahead of us in LGBTQ rights, combatting climate change, gun control, healthcare, and free college, to name a few.   Hell, they’ve even had two women presidents, something that probably won’t happen in my lifetime in the most powerful and prosperous country in the world.

I’m not saying that it’s only Irish American GOP members, or even just the GOP as whole, who are responsible for the atrocities of the last few years.  They were aided and abetted by politicians on the other side of the aisle who looked the other way; as well as voters, some of them Irish Americans who love to tell tales about their ancestors’ skirmishes with the Black and Tans, yet have no problem building a wall on a border policed by brown shirts.

So, while you’re carousing this weekend, take a minute to think about how the GOP is pissing all over the values this country was built on, its workers, and the middle class.  I’ll raise a glass to me Da, an Irish American, Vietnam vet, and blue-collar worker who wouldn’t even recognize Trump’s America.

We need to dump these blaggards.  We can’t send them down to Van Diemen’s Land, but we can vote them out.

Let me end with an homage to Yeats, who knew a thing or two about revolution:

I write it out in a verse—

McConnell, Ryan,

and Pence perverse,

Now and in time to be,

Wherever red hats are worn,

Are complicit, complicit utterly:

A terrible America is born.




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