The Threat to Democracy by Amanda Gorman

I found this quote through a friend of mine recently, which bests describe what is happening to our democracy at present. It’s from Amanda Gorman and it is based on what we had to endure during the Presidency of Donald Trump, as well as in Europe, where certain governments in the east have taken over and stripped people of their rights to a freedom of speech-namely in Hungary, Turkey, Poland and Belarus. The influence from China and Russia may have played a role in this, yet one should know how democracy has managed to prevail, even against the most brutal of regimes. We just have to take the Revolution of 1989 and the subsequent reunification of Germany, combined with the creation and expansion of the European Union as examples of how people fought for their rights to be heard. The elections of 2020 in the USA with Joe Biden winning it made a clear statement that democracy is not just for the privileged, it’s for everyone.

And with that, the quote:

We’ve seen a force that

would rather shatter our nation rather than share it,

would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed,

it can never be permanently defeated.

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Some food for thought here……

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Denkzettel on all people alike: Don’t argue with a MAGA

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Being an American and having lived in Germany for over two decades now, I’ve been amazed at the differences that the US and Germany have had and that the gap between the two countries has widened- to the benefit of the Germans.

However, in light of the upcoming US Elections, and all the dirty laundry that has come about from both sides of the line, there is one thing that Germans love doing, which is talking politics- especially trying to understand why Trump is “loved” by so many when all he is about is being a conman.

If there’s a word of advice to give to all German journalists, I can only give you this: Don’t try to understand him. Don’t try to ask why. Don’t use the topic of Trump for your talk shows and lastly (but most importantly):

Don’t argue with a MAGA. 

MAGA stands for Make America Great Again, the slogan that was used in Trump’s successful 2016 Presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton, and it’s being reused again in this campaign, as the Republicans- going without a campaign platform- are trying to keep Trump in his post at the expense of Joe Biden, despite his overall disapproval of over 65% of Americans both in the States and abroad.

The words MAGA and  (the German) Macke are similar in pronunciation, yet when looking at a typical person wearing a MAGA hat and behaving like one, one can say that the definition of the two words are the same.  “Eine Macke haben” means that the person is insane and has “fallen off his rocker.” He’s illogical, has a short fuse and carries out actions without thinking of the consequences.

Donald Trump wearing a MAGA hat during his 2016 campaign. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

The term MAGA is coined as a person who supports President Trump in all aspects. Aside from wearing MAGA apparel, as seen in the picture above, MAGAs are people who are less educated, less exposed to people of different color or background and less aware of the events that are affecting them, such as global warming and our current problem with CoVid-19. These people are not willing to accept change and would rather see the USA go on its own in terms of international policies and commitments.  They follow alternative news sources instead of the Big Five as they provide stories that fit their thinking while the big five produces “fake news” The less exposure and education, the more ignorant. And the more ignorant, the more likely they will follow Trump despite his numerous shortcomings:

The most alarming signs that you are entangled with a MAGA is when they say the most absurd comments, including discrediting stories that are happening that harm the image of Trump. Here’s a sample of such bogus remarks:

These are people who really “have a Macke” when it comes to having Trump in power. Evangelicals even perceive Trump as the Lord Himself, even though he has yet to prove that he can walk on water.

And believe me, no one can do that except Jesus.  😉

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Photo by Lukas Rodriguez on Pexels.com

Going back to the discussion of MAGAs:

One of the key flaws of a MAGA is when they close their eyes to reality and ignore the criticism that is being made by the outside. They counter with claims that it’s not true (and in many cases, ferociously). They can sometimes be violent. With that, they can either retaliate to a comment said by a critic of Trump or they pick a fight with someone who is either a foreigner, dark-skinned, anti-Trump or a combination of the three.  When asked about what they see in Trump or the problems he has created, they try to waffle around the question and not answer it- or they answer the question but without critical thinking. Sometimes they point fingers at others just to save themselves.

And this takes us to this documentary released by German public TV station WDR on August 24th. Hart aber Fair (Hard but Fair) is a talkshow that looks at politics from all angles, both in Germany as well as outside the country, with some themes dealing with the US. Created in 2001, Frank Plasberg has been hosting the show and is known for some of his hardest questions on his toughest clientel.  His most recent talkshow looks at the US at the crossroads because of the elections that take place on November 3rd. Some of the points brought up in this 75-minute show included the following:

The State of the US during Trump’s four years in the Oval Office

The Problems with Racism in the USA

How the US has handled Covid-19 to date

The Relation between the US and Germany (let alone Europe)

Talks of Manipulating the Elections in 2020

What would happen if Trump was reelected

Would Trump leave quietly if he loses the Elections

The Direction of the US after the Elections, no matter who wins

The guests of the show were diverse, from journalists and political scientists to a stand-up comedian whose new German word “Arschlochigkeit” will surely appear in the Duden Dictionary in the next edition.

Plasberg’s biggest mistake was inviting a MAGA to speak at his talkshow. George Weinberg chairs the Republicans Overseas group, based in Germany. Over nine million Republican Americans live overseas with a small fraction living in Germany. Weinberg matches the typical characteristics of a MAGA:

A white man of 60+ years

A staunch supporter of Trump- and it showed during the whole talk show

Very aggressive in terms of his body language and reactions to the criticism

Evasive to the questions and “gun-happy” regarding deferring blame onto others

And the cherry on the cake was his swipe at Plasberg by telling him not to compare Trump to Adolf Hitler when only 63 million Americans voted for him. That comment in itself had absolutely no relevance and it was a slap in Germany’s face because of its past.

The show was very intense and could best be compared to a standoff between police and rioters where one small action could result in a bloodbath- similar to the nationwide loot and burn protests in connection with George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May.  It was one where even the typical American expat voter was close to going through the TV to get at one person or another.  That part I will leave as that.

George Weinberg’s reactions during the show is typical of a MAGA. A person who is closed-minded, ignorant, hostile, evasive and one who would stand behind Trump no matter what happens. Seeing the pictures of events and encountering the questions by Plasberg caused his blood pressure to skyrocket without having to think about these themes clear and thoroughly.  Yet these are the behaviors that we have been seeing in social media already. Whenever a person posts something critical of Trump or contains scenes in connection with the dire states of the US, at one point or another, a MAGA in the network or a social group attacks it with rage, bashing the person who posted it to begin with. The events spiral out of control with mudslinging and insults, culminating into a person being blocked or worse, attacked in person. In some cases, a MAGA could ask the person to cease and desist on the posting.

Still, threats should not influence you from stating your opinion on such matters. You do have the right to ignore them and tell the person to lay off.  I learned of one trick I did to someone who was bashing my posts: “It’s my right to post because it’s my freedom of speech. If you don’t like what you see, either ignore it or leave.”  After a couple times, the word got around and those who have been critical have left me be.

And this should apply to dealing with MAGAs. While there may be some people who are tired of Trump’s tirade and would rather see Joe Biden run the country after making the mistake of voting for Trump in 2016 (and I forgive you if you learned your lesson), the majority of MAGAs, both in the USA and abroad are sticking to their poison in 2020 because they believe he is the choice for them.  These people are potentially dangerous when talking politics with them and will stop at nothing to ensure they have it their way with Trump. If having MAGAs instill violence during peaceful protests in large cities in the US and having an armed militia storm a state governmental building to force lifting the Corona lockdown is not enough, obviously you haven’t followed the news coverage of CBS, CNN, NBC, ABC and Fox- the big five networks- lately.

And with that, a word of advice to Plasberg, as well as the likes of Susan Link, Anne Will, and all the talkshow hosts of the ARD and ZDF family as well as private channels, like RTL, ProSieben/Sat 1, Vox and all: If you want to talk American politics and specifically Trump, do the world a big favor and do NOT invite a MAGA to your next show.  As we saw in the Hart aber Fair show, reasoning with a MAGA and stirring up anger among the guests and the audience is a waste of time and energy- something that can be used for other themes that are constructive and useful to everyone.  I’ve stopped talking politics with my father (who is also a MAGA and I’m a Democrat) a long time ago because there was no middle ground on any of the themes. We’ve gotten along well ever since.  By not inviting a MAGA and discussing politics with them, you will see that the person’s illogical advice is not welcomed and perhaps, just maybe that person will think about these themes carefully and alone. We can move on without a MAGA and perhaps after Biden wins, the MAGA movement will eventually die off. Who knows, maybe we can have a more constructive conversation at the dinner table someday.

 

FlFi10

American Democracy on Life Support: 2020 as the Turning Point

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Before I get into this topic, look at the heading very carefully. American Democracy on Life Support.

Many of you are thinking I, as an American expatriate myself, would be crazy enough to say that. America: the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is about to become dead. But looking at what this year has brought is: the failed impeachment of Trump, the Corona Virus and Trump’s failure to respond properly, Trump’s headbutting with China and the United Nations- especially the World Health Organization- and last but not least, the death of George Floyd, a black man who was wrongfully arrested and assaulted, with a knee on his neck, and his last words „I can’t breathe.“ Trump has done nothing more but to mobilize the military, all poised to take over the country.

Our beloved country, the country whose democracy was praised by the likes of Tocqueville and Beaumont, written by the likes of Walt Whitman, Hermann Mellville and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and looked up to as a role model by other countries, American Democracy is on life support.

I was asked by some students what I thought about the situation with the death of George Floyd, the subsequent ravaging of hundreds of cities throughout the country through protests, looting and arson- something we last saw in 1968- and the response of Trump to all of this, the first words that came to mind was:

Tiananmen Square

As this is being posted and circulated, we’re marking the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Peking, which happened on June 4-6, 1989. Hundreds of thousands of students and other protesters marched through the streets of the Chinese capital, only to be met with armed military soldiers and tanks, mowing down demonstrators with showers of bullets. This came after the Chinese security police forced international news reporters to go off the air and go home. While we may never know exactly how many people were killed in the slaughter, which was in the tens of thousands, we know that the Chinese government gained a stronghold on its population, strengthened its Communist system of government and for years, have quelled protesters who spoke out against the regime.

It took the pulling of the trigger and one bullet to kill off any hopes of reforming the country, period.

The United States is one bullet short of doing exactly what China did. As one writer from the German-based newspaper welt.de mentioned in an article on the George Floyd protests, „American Democracy cannot breathe because a knee is on its neck.“ The knee comes from not only Trump himself, but all of the people who either are silent about the protests, have praised him for standing in front of the church for a photo opp, or have insisted that it is ok to treat minorities like second class citizens. It is a long standing fact that racism has been a systemic and systematic issue that has become a growing cancer in America. In fact, American society has been a caste system for over a half century where whites with Cadillacs and mansions rule and the blacks in run-down flats are crude and to be treated as cruel. Even lower class whites are considered by many to be trailer trash. It’s no secret that the land that used to convert people from rags to riches has become a privileged society with money and power, material and religion, clothing and housing are the invisible barriers. The mentality of „keeping up with the Joneses“ has become a faded memory.

Yet still, people like Mike Pence, Bill Barr, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Grassley, Bill Cassady, Steve King and Steve Daines– all Republicans have turned a blind eye to the problems facing America and have for the most part supported Trump and his policies of dismantling the democratic system that had been in place since the ratification of the US Constitution in 1787. The clearing of peaceful protesters at Lafayette Park across from the White House just so Trump can pose with the Bible in front of the church, was an ambush on the founding fathers of Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Franklin, Jefferson and all of those who crafted an Amercian system that served the people and not the privileged. No matter how a person twists and turns it, that was an example of a dictator and not a president.

No one knows how the rest of the year will be like, but we do know this: it will be a long, hot and bloody summer between now and November 3rd, when we all go to the polls. Amercian democracy is on life support and there is no indication of Trump taking any interest in rebuilding the country and reforming a system that is infested with cancer cells and has brought America to a critical state. There is hope that another president, like Joe Biden, can cure the cancer and bring America back to its international status. It’s a matter of going to the polls and making a statement, regardless of Corona or other impediments. Trump must go but his departure must also include those who have either been his supporters or been ignorant of the current situation.

Yet this is easier said than done. Trump has vowed to end the protests and will stop at nothing to gain hold of the power that has since been trickling through his fingers. Already military soldiers are on stand-by, awaiting orders from the President to march and strike. Militias and far-right groups, those mostly responsible for looting and setting fires in cities, are hungry for a civil war. America hasn’t had a Civil War since 1865 but it’s a bullet away from it happening. The aftermath will not be anything American at all. It may end up in the following scenarios:

  1. Military power for the long term with Trump in charge- This was practiced in many countries in Latin America and Africa in the 1960s and 70s with a high rate of murder and destruction.
  2. Civil War- While the thematic of blacks versus whites are the same, the war would be on par with the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) which ended with a dictator in charge.
  3. World War III- If countries are involved in the American Civil War, the US would be the new battleground for World War III. With nuclear weapons and advanced technology, it would be the war that ended in Commander Riker’s infamous statement in Star Trek First Contact: „Very few governments left, 600 million dead, no resistance.“
  4. The break-up of the country- California has been mulling an exit. Minnesota an annexation with Canada, Alaska goes back to Russia. A Roman-style collapse has been a talk on the table among many political scholars who have watched the US and democracy fall into disarray.

What to do in the current situation will depend on the will of Americans to unite and reform the American system from the ground up. It’s a system that has been plagued by problems affecting all forms of society. It’s a system that is corrupt. It’s a system that has been looked down upon by global actors. It is a system where even though it was a symbol of democracy, it’s currently on life support. With patients on life support, we find many creative ways to revive them, bring them back to life and reshape them so they are much stronger than the incident. It can never be done with a bullet. There’s no such thing as the return to normalcy yet we can embrace the new norm and still have a stronger and more equal democratic system. We still have a chance if we bring in the right people who are experts and creative in reviving American Democracy.

Because American Democracy is on life support. All it takes is a bullet from Trump’s gun to end it all. When it happens, we may not have much of a democracy left in the world to tackle the problems that will destroy us all in the end.

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This article is in Memory of George Floyd, whose life was cut short by senseless violence way too early. He died of injuries sustained during a police arrest on May 25. He was 46.  The Files will be supporting the cause of promoting equality among all races and classes and re-establishing a democratic system where all can have a chance to live their dreams and help others. We are in full solidarity and will do everything possible to put an end to this maddness that has brought the world to a complete standstill. We stand as all and not for the few.

Fl Fi USA

Political Ash Wednesday in Germany

Source: 66Media for Tumblr

It’s a typical day in Berlin. Specifically, in the Reichstag Building at Brandenburg Gate. Politicians from both sides of the spectrum- the ruling coalition on one hand and the opposition on the other- convene to discuss (and dispute) laws and regulations designed to keep people safe and regulate businesses to make Germany a better and more attractive place for residents and visitors. There are some critiques and sometimes political insults- especially against the right-winged Alternative for Germany (AfD). But nonetheless, business is professional and the laws are passed or rejected without much fanfare.

That is unless it’s Ash Wednesday and you find yourself in Bavaria.

Every year, each political party to their quarters in Bavaria. There, the boxing gloves go on, the beer is flowing from the barrels, the crowds go wild and each of the prominent politicians have at it on the mikes- free-wheeling insults thrown at other political parties and certain people, complaining about the problems that Germany is facing and trying to rile up a jam-packed audience who in the end jeers, boos and hollars at them, while holding up the beer steins, the beer filled to the brim and spilling over.

Every year since 1946, Germany has held its annual Political Ash Wednesday rallies, where parties gather to Bavaria to unload their frustrations that had been brewing for the past 364 days. Yet the origin of this event goes a lot further back- specifically, the 16th century.  In 1580, farmers convened on this day to the market square Rossmarkt in Vilshofen/Danube to discuss and complain about the current events and other items affecting their business. The politics of Bavaria and later the German empire were added to the mix in the 19th century. Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party (NSDAP) used this day to convey his message of a pure Germany, which garnered thousands of supporters and paved the way to his claiming power in 1933. He kept the tradition until World War II broke out.

After the war, the tradition was revived in 1946 and in the same city as in the past. For the first six years, the Bavarian Party (BP) was the only party that kept to its original tradition, yet in 1952, the Christian Socialists (CSU) joined the fray as an attempt to steal away supporters from the BP. The Social Democrats joined the rally in 1965 with their own agenda, but being held at Wolfersretterkeller in Vilshofen. As of today, eleven parties have held this traditional rally in Bavaria but in different cities:

Free Democrats (FDP): Joseph-von-Fraunhofer-Halle in Straubing

Green Party: Landshut

Left-wing party „Die Linke”: Passau

Ökologische Partei (ÖDP): Passau

Republican: Geissenhausen

Pirate Party: Straubing

AfD: Osterhofen

The CSU has held their rally at Dreiländerhalle in Passau since 2004 as it can hold up to 6000 guests. Passau has become the main attraction for the rallies for half the parties have met there to express their colorful views to their delegates and supporters.

However, the Political Ash Wednesday events can also be found on the national level. For the past two decades, one can find such events in Apolda (Thuringia), Marne (Schleswig-Holstein), Volksmarsen (Hesse), Fellbach (Baden-Württemberg), Recke (NRW), Demmin (MV), Biberach an der Riss (BW) and Wallerfangen (Saarland). Biberach is the meeting point for the Greens and Wallerfangen for the Linke. The Christian Democrats (CDU) have held such events in more than one of the aforementioned cities.

If there is a comparison for Political Ash Wednesday, one could do so with the Presidential Campaign in the United States in general. We mustn’t add Donald Trump in the mix for he is the “krassest” of examples for political insults and making fun of people in the most degrading fashion. Subtracting him, the Presidential Campaign does not include the beer but it does include complaining about the situation affecting the country and playing down the other candidates’ promises of making it better for everyone. It does include strong messages that arouses the masses and encourages them to support their candidates. For the political rally in Germany on this special day, it solely has to do with addressing the problems and the “problem children,” which strengthens the German (and to a certain degree, European) stereotype of complaining, daily, profusely and professionally. It makes a complaining choir sound like a discord, especially if one has too much to drink.

If one needs an idea how a Political Ash Wednesday works, have a look at a couple examples for you to listen to. Examine their views, their facial reactions and gestures and the crowds that roar over the events.

Then look at a typical US Presidential Campaign Rally:

And then look at Donald Trump:

If there is one thing that they have in common, it’s in connection with the  GIF-pic at the beginning of the article. It had been originally been planned to beused to talk about Hamburg’s governmental elections and the successful attempts to solidify the existence of the SPD and Greens and the (near) ouster of the FDP and AfD in response to the scandal in Thuringia. Then after watching the speeches on this Ash Wednesday, it came to this commonality that is typical of politics in general: Politicians may be the biggest role model for the public and they debate on laws that are supposed to help people. They are the ones that hold the torch. Yet on a day, like Ash Wednesday, they go unplugged, strip down, and show their teeth, bashing anyone trying to dethrone them.

If Ash Wednesday is the day for using the witty tongue and creative insults, they come but once a year in politics.  This means we don’t need a day for bitching and complaining, unless you are the typical German politician who holds it in until this special day, then lets loose over a stein of beer. Since we have this, Bavaria will forever be in the minds of many who use this day to unwind and unload.

And with that, raise your beer steins and “Prost!”

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The Bavarian Party, which re-established the Political Ash Wednesday Rallies, still exists as a party. Yet unlike its heyday in the 1940s, when it garnered 21% of the votes and rivaled the Christian Socialists (CSU), it has averaged only 2% of the votes since the 1970s. Today only three districts are controlled by the BP. Its main platform is an independent Bavaria as a country and not part of Germany. This has been rejected by the CSU and other parties.

FlFi10

“The AfD is here to stay!” The Failure of the Minority Government in Thuringia and its Implications for the upcoming 2021 Elections in Germany

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Erfurt, Germany. February 5th, 2020. Four months after the State Elections, which saw the far-left party Die Linke receive the majority of the votes, but not enough votes to continue the Red-Red-Green Coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, the chance for a minority government under incumbent Prime Minister, Bodo Ramelow was buried. The new Prime Minister is Thomas Kemmerich- from the FDP (Free Democrats).  After five years of leftist governing, the State of Thuringia has taken the sharpest right  possible, creating an earthquake that is being felt all the way to Berlin. And with that, one party is setting the stage for a potential upset in 2021, the year German Chancellor Angela Merkel steps down and elections for a new Chancellor will take place- namely the Alternative for Germany Party (AfD).

The far-right party has been making waves by entering the state parliament in each of the elections of 16 German states.  Yet with Kemmerich as the new state minister, even though he comes from the FDP, the AfD effectively has entered unchartered waters, but whose history runs parallel to the events that brought down the Weimar Republic in 1933.  Erfurt is swallowing another bitter pill- its second in a week’s time after its professional soccer team, Rot-Weiss-Erfurt folded due to lack of liquidity. But this pill is one that has the potential to be as deadly as the hemlock that Socrates was forced to drink as part of his death sentence.

In other words, Germany and its democracy are both starting to die. The pill was taken thanks to the AfD’s successful plot to bring an unknown person into power from a party that had just entered the parliament after achieving the 5% vote needed and had only four representatives in Erfurt after the elections on October 27th.  How did this happen?

It was easy as this: Despite signing the agreement with the Left, SPD and Greens to continue with the coalition, a prime minister for Thuringia was needed, hence the in-house elections. Of the votes to be casted by 90 representatives, one must have the absolute majority of votes the first two of three rounds- meaning 46 out of 90. Ramelow got most of the votes in the first two rounds but was shy of the mark each time. In the third and decisive round, where the simple majority would’ve sufficed for Ramelow, the AfD, who had nominated a candidate of their own, threw their support behind Kemmerich instead, and together with the Christian Democrats (CDU), pulled off the most controversial upsets never seen since the Fall of the Weimar Republic.  While Kemmerich has signaled no interest in a coalition with the AfD, thousands of demonstrators and politicians have cried foul play, with all but the AfD demanding an explanation- and new elections. Even authorities in the CDU in Berlin including party chair Annagret Kramp-Karrenbauer have turned on the Thuringian CDU for their plot with the AfD to oust Rammelow and have therefore demanded new elections.  As of this post, Kemmerich has rejected calls for it.

Why is the AfD so dangerous? One name to answer: Björn Höcke, who heads the party in Thuringia. Many have dubbed him as Hitler 2.0 for his controversial remarks aimed at refugees, immigrants and the Jewish community.  According to the BBC, Mr Höcke sparked an outcry when he condemned the decision to place the Holocaust memorial in the heart of Berlin, describing it as a “memorial of shame”. He, like his party colleagues, have pressed for restrictions on the freedom of speech and the elimination of foreign languages in favor of just German and would rather see a GEXIT, like it happened with Boris Johnson’s BREXIT out the EU, which will certainly mark the beginning of the end for the United Kingdom as Scotland prepares to campaign for independence and Northern Ireland ponders unification with Ireland, an EU member. Attempts to oust Höcke have failed, resulting in some members leaving the party.  Yet with this victory in Erfurt, many in the AfD are making the point very clear: We are here and we will prevail, no matter how you isolate us.

Imagine what will happen in 2021, when Merkel leaves to enjoy her much-deserved retirement after having ruled Germany for as long as Helmut Kohl and Konrad Adenauer. The elections will take place and the majority of the voters put their ballots in favor of the AfD. It was bad enough that the party came in third in the 2017 national elections and in second in over a third of the elections in the German states. The damage caused by the concerted efforts by the AfD, FDP and CDU in Thuringia to bring Kemmerich into power as prime minister has raised some questions about the identity of the FDP and CDU and its potential to cozy up to the AfD and their far-right policies. Especially the hardest hit is the CDU for the party, with its center-right conservative mentality but is known for its tolerance towards foreigners living in Germany, as many voters, dissatisfied with Merkel’s policies, have left the party and taken refuge for the AfD, mistaken by their false sense of security. Even if the AfD was to finish in second, it will still find ways to collude with the CDU, FDP or other parties as a way of gaining power. Can you imagine the likes of Höcke, Alexander Gauland, Alice Weidel and Frauke Petry taking over Berlin and ruling over Germany?

If not, and thankfully, the majority has still learned from what happened under Hitler, then it is up to each and every single party who is opposed to the AfD to do something. The AfD is here to stay and we need to deal with it. The only way to do so is the following:

  1. Reinvent yourselves. Each party must break with tradition and find new platforms that counters the AfD’s but also appeals to each age group.
  2. Stay calm and be creative in countering any anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant and even anti-German comments and plans by the AfD or anyone the the party supports. Ripping up speeches in public after a president addresses the nation and throwing flowers on the ground at the feet of a newly elected prime minister are considered counterproductive. What is productive is what the party can do to outmanuver the AfD, regardless of themes being talked about on the state and national levels.
  3. Most importantly, find someone who has the capability to fill the shoes of Madame Chancellor at the quickest and most professional way. Having celebrity status to add to the political experience is an accessory compared to the most important element needed for Germany- public image. Without public image- appearance, eloquence and the ability to move the public, the candidate will be half the image. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Margaret Thacher were all successful because of the element that we seem to lack- public image.

In this day and age, looking at the current trend in the UK and USA, facts and figures are no longer enough. The right-wing virus is too strong for that. Complaining and mudslinging is a waste of time. This was something the Democrats in Washington have learned the hard way with Trump being acquitted of all charges in the impeachment hearings- the same day this debacle happened in Erfurt. What Germany needs very badly now is someone with the image and the iron fist to put an end to the dominance of the AfD and put it out of commission, once and for all. It starts in Berlin, in 2021. Once a prominent person is in place and restores order, the AfD will die off like the terrorist group, the RAF.

Like in the US with the Presidential elections this year, 2021 will be the year of decisions for the Bundesrepublik Deutschland. We’ve seen what happened in Erfurt. If nothing is done, we will see this happen again in Berlin with the federal elections. And we will end up rewriting history on how German democracy perished because of the likes of Gauland, Höcke, Weidel and Petry.

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Berlin Wall: Keeping the Memory Alive

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Germany has had some problems keeping the memories of the past alive. This goes back to the end of World War II and the topic involving the German Question: “Who are We?” and “What can History teach us from this ordeal.”  While we struggle to keep the memorials devoted to the Holocaust alive to remind ourselves of what happened during Hitler’s Reign of Terror, others elect to eradicate it- either because it was too traumatizing to even talk about it (the German Population suffered as much as the Jews and Minorities that were persecuted and suffered in concentration camps) or because it is considered  “harmlos”, something that is a typical genocide because other countries have witnessed it and the people who lived through this have long passed.

The same holds true for the time after the War, as two Germanys were divided for another 45 years, 21 of which was through a series of concrete walls, barbed wiring and border guards, ordered to shoot escapees on site, who wanted to flee to the West. During the time of East Germany, the people were under surveillance by the Stasi and tortured if they were suspected of not behaving like a communist.

While many of the people living during that time are beginning to pass, we’re being confronted with keeping the memories of 1989 alive. It was an iconic moment, for the Walls that cut Germany and its capital Berlin into two have come down, yet thanks to the increase of development through urbanization and modernization, much of the memories of the Wall and the Events that led its the Fall are starting to fade, being pushed into the backburner. People born on or after 1989 have little recolection of the events that ushered the new republic of Germany and with that, the new world order, as far as Democracy is concerned.  For many, they have the mentality of “History is History; It’s the Future we’re concerned with.”

In this documentary, Richard Quest of the American news network CNN looks at the Berlin Wall in the present and two generations with different mindsets: those who have experienced it and those who were born afterwards. The goal is to bridge the gap between the two so that this important event is passed down to the next generations in order to understand the significance of the event. This was produced in 2012 as part of the series Future Cities.

Link: https://edition.cnn.com/videos/business/2012/03/26/future-cities-berlin-quest-urban-landscape.cnn

 

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From the Attic: Bonn- the Birthplace of the German Constitution 1949

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BONN- On this day 70 years ago, the German Constitution was ratified, thus ushering in the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland). It was the first democratic government since the Weimar Republic, which was created in 1919 but lasted only 14 years. It also brought in its first chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who until 1998, became the longest tenured chancellor in modern German history, having served from 1949 until his resignation in 1963. Bonn was its capital until 1994, when it was moved to Berlin, five years after East and West Germany reunited. Since 1999, all federal Offices and the German parliament are conducted in Berlin.

While Germany has some Milestones to celebrate, it is interesting to see how the West German government ratified the Constitution, which still remains in use and is discussed to this day (See the previous article on it here.). Two “Exemplars” on its ratification can be found in this article below; the first produced by the British channel Pathé, the other in German by Zeitzeuge Portal, which includes interviews with historians and political scientists in German. In either case, they are both interesting to see the reaction to the creation of West Germany from local and outsider perspectives.

Enjoy! 🙂

Pathé (UK):

 

Zeitzeuge Portal:

 

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Germany at 70: The Constitution

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May 23rd, 2019. On this day 70 years ago, the West German government, together with the western allies of the US, France and Great Britain ratified the German Consititution, a set of basic laws that are binding and foster equality, freedom of speech and Democracy. The basic laws were the basis for establishing a democratic state, the first since the Weimar Republic of 1919. And unlike the Republic, which was dissolved with the rise of Adolf Hitler, who ushered in the era of Naziism 14 years later, the German Constitution has become the solid rock, one of the examples of how Democracy works even to this day, despite going through the hardships in the sense of politics, society and the economy.  This was even adapted by the former East German government in 1990 as part of the plan to reunify the country.

While there are booklets in many languages that have the Basic Law of Germany, there are some questions that are still open as to how it works in comparison to those in other countries, the US included. This documentary, produced by a bunch of American scholars, gives you an in-depth coverage and discussion to the laws that exist. Albeit Long, one can skip to some of the laws discussed or just simply play it in ist entirety. For those wishing to live in Germany in the future, even temporary, this is rather useful.

Enjoy the documentary! 🙂

 

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Photo Flick 13

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This photo flick gives us a true meaning of the classroom learning exercise known as “Think, Pair and Share.”  All you need are two chairs, a table, a notebook with pen and a good environment to brainstorm and exchange ideas, like this art exhibition room in a district in Dresden’s Neustadt, taken in April 2019. 🙂

 

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TED Talk: Poverty- The Lack of Cash Not Character

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While we have been talking about the fall of capitalism and countries in Europe introducing a general income for all, some of us wonder if there is a correlation between poverty and intelligence, or poverty and health. While there have been many (and sometimes important) studies that definitely confirm the latter, there is very little written or even spoken about the former.

That is until a TED-talk session in 2017, where Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, debunks the claim that poverty and intelligence are related. Bregman specializes in the history of economics and society and has done talks and written many pieces in this field. In this TED talk session, Bregman claims that the correlation relating to poverty has more to do with one lacking cash for the basic necessities: food, education, shelter and clothing, and less with the character of the person him-/herself. Even the brightest persons in the world happen to be poor. As a result, he pushes for a national general income for all program to encourage people to have these necessities and not treat them as a luxury. Interestingly enough, it was introduced in the Netherlands in the 1970s and produces surprising results.

Details are in his speech. Watch it and ask yourself if a general income for all would be of advantage to your country’s population and if so, how?

 

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