Basking in the joy of being a political nerd

IN THE small hours of yesterday morning a giddy crowd of 250 gathered around televisions at the Lime Cafe Bar in Dún Laoghaire.

It was the Champions League Final and a Sky Sports Super Sunday bound up in the intrigue of a Big Brother elimination night.

But those of us transfixed to the CNN commentary did not arrive to cheer as football fans or reality television addicts.

This was a rare occasion for us who excite at Dáil debates and Seanad Shenanigans to come out and bask in the joy of being a “political nerd”.

And what better motivation than watching the frequently incomprehensible voting process unfold behind what was America’s most competitive Super Tuesday in living memory.

The utter complexity of the race and the level of interest in Ireland was almost enough to give most people a legitimate excuse for buying a ticket to the event organised by the blog.

“It is just so close. Last time out we knew John Kerry was going to get the Democrat election and George Bush was going for a second term there was nothing at stake on Super Tuesday,” explained Isobel O’Connor from Dublin.

“It is democracy in action and it is not even a general election. So it is fascinating to see how the people have their say. You can see how they are pulling the numbers together and who they are targeting to get votes,” said James Lawless from Sallins, Co Kildare.

Senator Dan Boyle, who spent his early years in America and arrived to Tuesday night’s party with a cohort of other Green Party members, attributed the level of interest to the polarising affect of President George W Bush and people seeking something different.

However, most in the bar admitted their primary motivation for making the trip to Dún Laoghaire was not to cheer for senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain or Barak Obama.

We were there because we were all political junkies wanting to watch a historic event unfold. Deep down the results were a sideshow for us political nerds.

Either the Super Tuesday fix could be sourced alone at home in a darkened sitting room or in a bar in south Dublin with hotdogs and debate.

The bar closed at 2.30am and the only stimulant left was the speeches of each candidate, the thundering predictions of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and the occasional cup of coffee.

While the crowd whittled down as the key states of New York, New Jersey and Illinois became clear the party remained intact.

The real diehard addicts were still glued to the screens after 5.20am when the final predictions were made for the most important state of all — California.

With CBS reporting record turnouts in 24 voting states and American Samoa, it is abundantly clear that people really still care about an election. This in the world’s largest economy, where citizens are supposed to be among the most disaffected anywhere.

And this enthusiasm told us nerds it is still okay to care, to be interested and to gather until dawn — getting excited about who might be selected to try and be elected as the next leader of a country on the other side of the ocean. Roll on the remaining primaries.

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