Germany: Conservatives Choose Candidate for Chancellor

…but the next person in charge could be a woman again

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

It was obvious that the CDU Federal Executive Board last weekend would push through its own party colleague and not the man from the sister party, the Bavarian CSU. After all, there are many members on the board with their own ambitions for power. The meeting, the outcome of which was a foregone conclusion, had been more or less arranged to ensure Bavaria’s popular Minister President Markus Soeder (CSU) a face-saving retreat.

At the CDU base, the mood probably looks a bit more honest: Most of the regular party members would have preferred Soeder as their candidate for chancellor, and with him the conservatives would probably have a better chance winning the upcoming federal elections this September. Now, the two-party-Union consisting of CDU and CSU (the latter exists only in the Free State of Bavaria) is in for a payday for playing a lousy power game: For it would be a surprise if Germany’s next chancellor is to be the far less popular Armin Laschet.

Instead, after Angela Merkel’s retirement this coming September, it might well come down to a female chancellor once again, as the Green Party is at a polling high and could emerge as the strongest party nationwide for the first time. Consequently, for the first time in their history, they are competing with their own candidate for chancellor. The party leadership has recently decided on the 40-year-old, resolute Annalena Baerbock without any further ado – quite in contrast to the grueling, pernicious power struggle in the conservative CDU/CSU.

Although many experts fear negative economic consequences in the event of a Green government takeover, it must be borne in mind that there will hardly be an absolute majority possible for just one party in Germany. In that sense, it is almost certain that the country will continue to be governed by a multi-party coalition, maybe even with the conservatives as junior-partner involved. Such government naturally operates on the basis of compromise. But even in this scenario, the Greens can give priority to their dominant issue, climate protection – supported by the broad public opinion that climate change is caused by humans and must be urgently counteracted; a view held also across all political camps with the exception of the polarizing and in parts extreme right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

It feels like the next generation is already knocking on the door in my home country to take on top political responsibility. Approval for this seems to come from almost all camps. 30 years ago, when I was a city commissioner for the CDU in my little hometown of Wolmirstedt, the party book still played a dominant role. But in the historically short time that has passed since then, the whole world has changed dizzyingly. As a consequence, thinking between party lines has become more and more mixed, out of the need to solve increasingly complex problems together – not only across parties, but also across countries. The Coronavirus is only the most prominent example of many.

Although there is still a lot of water to flow down the Rhine before Germany’s election in September, I can very well imagine the next woman in the German chancellorship. And why not? Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, especially New Zealand – all these countries have relatively young women at the head of their governments, and they almost all do well with it. Above all, Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister of New Zealand does an excellent, refreshing job – almost completely unnoticed by the rest of the world.

So, in Germany it could be Annalena. Let her do it.

Shoe Laces and Chewing Gum

What has been drummed into Americans

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

Almost everything in the US is left to run itself to a certain extent, because the majority of Americans is hostile to any regulations. Some consequences of this are what can now be seen in Texas: people have flooded homes with icicles hanging from the ceiling, and they are lining up for drinking water like in a third world country.

Power companies have created local grids to circumvent federal regulations with the ulterior motive to pocket as much profit as possible. Meanwhile, the power grid throughout nearly the entire country is held together literally by shoe laces and chewing gum. As soon as a bird shits on the line or everyone turns on their coffee makers at the same time, the power goes out.

Wooden power poles… I can see one every day in my backyard in Blairsville/Georgia when I look out the kitchen window. Each time I feel as if I am looking into the face of a ghost, or as if something has catapulted me back into a past century. I have a faint memory of them as a child: At the end of the 60s/beginning of the 70s, such poles were removed in the GDR (former East Germany) and the lines within cities, towns and villages were completely laid underground. Yet, when we watched the West German television every evening, then we saw the progress in western democracies, and we were convinced at that time that the GDR was lagging behind the world standard in all things developmentally. [1] That was half a century ago. I was there, I have witnessed it: The powerlines disappeared from the streetscape. The rich USA can’t bring this about? They land on Mars, while down on earth, in their own country, everything goes from hand to mouth.

Americans nowadays have a strong tendency to acquiesce in everything that is done to them; they rather leave everything up to their dear God, indulge themselves in conspiracy theories and unrealistic conclusions while keep watching as everything collapses. And when they actually do decide to protest, then they do not bring the matter to a countable end result. [2]

The pattern always remains the same: The root of all evil in the United States is the free rein of the big money, utterly unregulated and unattended by any government [3], and its accumulation in the hands of a few who don’t give a damn about the collective good of the country. It makes no sense to support somebody like Trump, who did not do anything about it, either – on the contrary, he gave the wealthiest corporations the largest tax relief in history.

It rather takes staunch government intervention to bring about the equality of treatment of all people and a fair distribution of wealth, as it was the basic liberal idea leading to the American birth through a revolt against the British oppressors from 1775 to 1783. This has nothing to do with socialism, as is usually drummed into Americans – take a look into your own, American history books. Read what Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, had to say about the big money harming the American society, about government control, about Unions, about more justice in terms of equality. The moral of his views is valid, then as now.

As long as Americans do not or do not want to recognize the true problem in their country and do something about it, they can be dealt with at will, and nothing will ever really change – regardless who the president is and regardless which party they vote for.

Notes:

[1] We could not travel to the West to visit our own relatives. An impenetrable inner-German border with minefields, barbed wire, watchtowers, and automatic firing systems made every attempt to escape a suicide mission. – The travel ban was the main cause of the peaceful revolution in the GDR in the fall of 1989, which eventually led to the fall of the Wall and Germany’s reunification.

[2] The “Black Lives Matter” initiative has literally petered out, it seems.

[3] Unlike in democratic countries in Western Europe.

“Behind Me are Millions”

A German warning to America from History

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

It would be a mistake to assume that Donald Trump, the mob-president, depends on the Republican Party. Instead, it must be feared that the bulk of his 74 million voters will foolishly follow him, if not within the GOP, so in any other political movement – after all, idiocy is sufficiently established in this society to serve as the trailblazer. No law will be an issue anymore.

This man with limited intellectual faculties, stricken by pathological egotism and vindictiveness, will very likely be back in public “in one form or the other”, as he himself put it in his last hours in office. America’s democracy, including a shocking number of citizens, has failed in the most despicable manner, which will result in more consequences for this country.

Of course, Trump is not Hitler, who once boasted “Behind me are Millions.” Unfortunately, it was true. And yet, the situation is insofar comparable as Trump, still supported by millions, can play cat and mouse with the Republican Party, and, as the attack on the Capitol has proven, challenge the American democracy and its institutions to the core, virtually at will and without being punished. This fact will not have escaped his followers.

In 1932 and before, when Hitler did pretty much something very similar even before he became Chancellor in the following year, the illusory “Cabinet of the Barons”, the stirrup holders of the Austrian corporal, had degraded itself to powerlessness, because after all the assurances it was now too late to do something against Hitler – for millions were following him in ecstasy, spurred on with simple paroles against the establishment. Notice something?

To be sincere: If there had not been an American 1 June 2020 (when local law enforcement cleared peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Square) and a 6 January 2021 (when the Capitol riot occurred), any comparisons with Hitler would not have even remotely entered my mind. As an historian, like so many Americans, I would have never thought such events possible as it happened in Washington D.C.

The darkest chapter in German history will certainly never repeat itself in an American way. For this, in retrospect, not least the foreign and domestic policy accents are as different as day and night, not to mention the historical and economic situation of both countries – Germany back then and the US today. But the danger that something more entirely atypical by American political standards could happen on a grand scale, can no longer be considered impossible. Much will certainly depend on the outcome of the next elections, and also if any of the various criminal investigations against Trump as a private individual will derail him.

It is much to be hoped that Nikki Haley, former Republican South Carolina governor and UN ambassador, who broke with Trump, is right about her prophecy: that Donald Trump will not return.*

But, how does she know that?

Note: *Nikki Haley, interview with “Politico”, 12 February 2021.

Complicitous

The Capitol riot – a sanctioned crime?

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

There is no excuse for that much irresponsibility: Everybody who has voted for Trump has become an accessory to the crime conducted by the mob on 6 January 2021 in Washington D.C., if involuntarily or not. And they – his voters -, who made the untold Trump-saga after all possible, are also jointly responsible for furthering the radicalization of the United States of America.

Cluelessness won’t serve any evasiveness, either; and much less for a wretched failure of this magnitude: Going to the polls and having the nerve to vote for such an idiot. These people in their anti-socialism and Antifa-mania – without even having a historic clue about the origins of “Antifa” in Italy and Germany and what it really constituted against Fascism and Nazism – have intensified America’s advance towards a society of extreme excesses and, consequently, have violated the minimum standards set for decent citizens belonging to a civilized country. The same people commonly love to talk about “those liberals”, mentally obviously not capable to understand the historic facts about the liberal roots of their own country, not to mention to define what “Liberalism” actually stands for.

The country is in urgent need for changes virtually impossible to implement with confused people of such dimension. Changes typically originate from the human brain before any materialization within a society as a whole can occur. However, an alarming number of ignorant people residing in certain areas of the United States, far remote from the slightest ability for straight reasoning, give little hope for the future of a country already frighteningly divided and politically polarized.

Those in the belief that the events of 6 January 2021 were staged by Democrats and Antifa groups consequently must also assume that then-president Trump, when he addressed and incited the crowd to walk down on Pennsylvania Avenue, thus was talking to thousands of left-wing radicals. It was nothing of that sort. But maybe it was not even Trump himself talking, but an Antifa-Double instead?

There are really people on the loose in this country believing and spreading such nonsense, despite the fact that none of the lunatics detained by security agencies after the assault on the Capitol could be linked to Antifa, or any other left-wing movements. Also a conspiration?

And for all of this, for all the tremendous damage done to the country through the myth of a “stolen election”, bred by those who stupidly fell and voted for an empty-headed charlatan – there won’t even be any punishment for Trump himself and his minions?

If so, it would degrade the events of 6 January 2021 to a government sanctioned crime – and nothing else.

A Herculean Task

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

This was a perfect inauguration, despite the pandemic and the fragile status of the country. And Joe Biden, as expected, offers a conciliatory, modest tone. The question is: How many Americans that have not voted for him, can he reach with his unifying message?

With the populistic, nationalistic spook coming from the White House in the past four years now being over, there were really and still are Americans convinced that the election was rigged; that the new president would never be inaugurated, and, if he did, would instantly evoke marshal law and take away social security from the people. Even the corona pandemic would miraculously come to an end on 20 January, 2021, finally exposed as a hoax. This is the pathological extremism affecting the heads of conspiration ideologists and circulating worldwide; a dark, ancient theory merely revived and radicalized by Donald Trump. 

How could it happen that so many people have fallen for something like this? How is that much stupidity on one pile possible? That just can’t be true, one might assume. And, this appalling movement is not going to disappear from now on anytime soon.

In addition to this fairly bleak outlook, it is hard to imagine that Trump will now sink into obscurity, but brooding on revenge instead. In America, everything is possible. He might emerge as the populistic whip on his own TV-channel. Even more dangerous: He did already announce his intention to found a new political organization; the Patriot’s Party. If successful, the destruction of the GOP is indeed conceivable, for most of Trump’s proponents will go with him. Only a slight minority, if at all, of his 74 million voters will finally come to their senses, able to return to the true definition of American patriotism.

The history books tell us that the United States has always been a country divided by populism, coming more than just once close to civil war-like conditions. And sometimes, history even repeats itself: If Joe Biden, like once Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the outset of his first term and in the midst of the Great Depression, succeeds in adopting measures the people will profit from, he might be able to reach into the Republican faction, which will be necessary to pacify the country. A sheer Herculean task among all the other huge problems the new president faces. He does not have much time to produce success.

Doomed To Fail

The GOP is preparing their next booby trap

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

As it was expected, Vice President Pence does not fulfill the lawful duty that his office demands to act for the good of his people. For spurious reasons he will not invoke the 25th amendment to remove a dangerously unhinged, criminal president from the White House instantly – the most un-American president the history of this country has ever seen.

The true reason for his complicit conduct is obvious. 75 million Trump-voters – most of whom will recur, although they might currently feel like stateless Muppets after losing their American La-La-Land – are a too powerful base of the Republican electorate to be alienated for the foreseeable future. But, in this way, the next Republican calamity has been commenced already: Instead for the GOP to at least demonstrate strength toward American law and justice, possibly with an emerging new and true conservative leader (the potential is available), the basis for another deception of the American public is already looming underneath the surface. This once more foreseeable design of a moribund Republican strategy forces two questions: How much more has to happen before a sufficiently educated and civilized part of the American society takes decisive, peaceful action for progressive changes stringently required in this country? And how is it, time and again, that nearly everything in the United States is measured by the shortsighted prospects for swift success and profit?

Before the future can even begin, the presence is daunting: Security authorities are apprehensive of more violence in the wake of the political change, potentially in all 50 States. The United States of America is a sick country because at least half of its populace is mentally unstable, to put it in rather friendly words. How else can the appearance of somebody like Donald Trump as president be explained?

A collective mass stultification in their churches, an adolescence obviously left forsaken and uneducated about the liberal foundation of their country, millions of presumably literate people not knowing the definition of expressions like “left wing radicals” or “socialism”, instead seriously referring to a manipulated second amendment completely taken out of historic context and written in candlelight 232 years ago – these are perfect conditions to delude a populace and, over time, result in millions of people becoming a mental pitfall for any future administration to deal with. And all of this in a society of blatant racial unrest, social injustice and unfair distribution of wealth not seen in any other western country to this extent.

Who will protect the country from further waves of domestic violence? A police recruited with tens of thousands of Trump supporters? Or maybe even a “proud military”, infiltrated with ex-convicts and drug addicts?

Update: Just hours after I had published this article, several senior US military leaders “reminded US military service members of their obligation to support and defend the Constitution and reject extremism” in a statement that “underscored the unprecedented challenges facing the country in the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection attempt by President Donald Trump’s supporters.” Source: CNN
The author: Just like the statement of ten former secretaries of defense reminding the military of “basic democratic principles” only days before the mob invaded the Capitol, the latest exhortation proves that there is cause for concern that the US-military as a whole obviously cannot be entirely regarded as a reliable factor of American democracy – otherwise such statement would hardly be necessary.