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It’s a Long Way to Tipperary

“It’s a long way to Tipperary” is often employed metaphorically to underscore the complexity and length of a political process, suggesting that achieving a particular goal will be a difficult and drawn-out endeavor.

Derived from a British music hall song popularized during World War I, the phrase can be used to manage expectations, indicating that while the end objective may be clear, the journey to reach it is fraught with obstacles.

Whether referring to the painstaking work of passing legislation or the slog of a lengthy electoral campaign, the phrase encapsulates the endurance and persistence often required in politics.

More on “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”

A classic British song, popularized by soldiers in World War I, that has entered political circles as a synonym for “let’s not rush to judgment.”

The song—now the longest-earning tune in musical history, collecting money from ringtones and YouTube—soared to fame after Allied troops in France made it one of their favorite marching songs. Singer John McCormack recorded the first version, which can be heard on the soundtrack to the movie Titanic.

President Ronald Reagan quoted from the song in a 1984 address in Ballyporeen, Ireland. “One of your townsmen sang me a bit of a tune . . . and a few lines stuck in my mind,” Reagan told locals. “They went like this—not that I’ll sing—‘And I’ll never more roam, from my own native home, in Tipperary so far away.’”

When Ohio governor John Kasich was still weighing a presidential bid, he was fond of dropping the phrase in the wait-and-see context. The Columbus Dispatch observed that it was “one of his favorite clichés.” He used it to dismiss questions about the Republican-dominated state House revising his proposed budget’s plans, as well as to avoid speculating about a controversial legislative measure that would ban abortion once a fetus’s beating heart could be detected. Once he actually got in the race, he told reporters in August: “It’s a long way to Tipperary here. The nomination is a long and winding road.”

From Doubletalk © 2016 Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark.

Use of “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” in a sentence

  • When discussing the prospects of comprehensive climate change legislation, the seasoned senator remarked, “It’s a long way to Tipperary; we’ve got years of negotiations and compromises ahead of us.”
  • As the campaign manager looked at the uphill battle to win swing states, she sighed and said, “It’s a long way to Tipperary, but we have to start somewhere.”
  • During a town hall meeting on healthcare reform, the representative cautioned his constituents, saying, “It’s a long way to Tipperary—we’re in for extensive debate and likely multiple revisions before we see any substantial change.”