February 6th, 2020

The 2020 "earthquake in Thüringen"

I've been trying to write about politics less lately, because there really just isn't any point to it, and it's a black hole which can easily suck you into it if you allow it to do so. I've seen countless people try and try and try to make a political point and finally just give up when it becomes apparent that people will believe what they believe no matter what you say, no matter what evidence or arguments you put in front of them to prove that they are extremely, flagrantly, and disastrously wrong. People often say that politics and religion are the two things that you should never talk about because they can only divide people, but today, in a world where most people are not religious, religion is not even a topic that most people are particularly sensitive or serious about, and so the only thing left that really divides people and can bring even the most seemingly-reasonably folks to conflict is politics. And last night, a new form of insanity erupted that is so crazy that it deserves to be heard just for how crazy it is.

Most media around the world have been reporting on the debacle of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses which took place a few days ago, in which the results of the vote were delayed for more than a day because the party found itself unable to consistently count how many votes were cast for the various candidates. Because this was the first selection process for the Democratic candidate in the election later this year, and because the process broke down so dramatically and embarrassingly, it got a lot of attention in the international press, but last night, a state election took place in Germany which is unlikely to get much attention outside of Germany itself, and so it seems appropriate to bring this information to the world in an English-language format to show just how crazy people are.

Last night, on February 5, 2020, Thomas Kemmerich was elected Minister President of Thüringen, a state in Germany. There were only three candidates in the election: Kemmerich, a member of the libertarian FDP (Free Democratic Party), Bodo Ramelow, a member of the party "Die Linke" (The Left), and Christoph Kindervater, who is not a member of any party and whose political career consists of being the mayor of Sundhausen, a town of 354 residents. Although Kindervater is not a member of any party and campaigned as an independent, he had support from the AfD (Alternative für Deutschland), a party which is regularly described in German media as being "Nazi" or "extreme right-wing" because they have taken the stance that maybe not every single person in the world should be allowed to live in Germany. The hysteria surrounding the AfD in Germany parallels that associated with Trump in the U.S., with "FCK AFD" stickers now ubiquitous in every city in Germany.

The result of the election was something of a shock to many, because Bodo Ramelow was widely seen as the candidate with the most support, and his victory was seen as a foregone conclusion in a place where Die Linke is by far the most popular party, but in the last round of voting, in a sudden and largely unexected move, the local AfD suddenly shifted their support from Kindervater to Kemmerich, resulting in a very narrow victory for Kemmerich. Perhaps the AfD decided that lending their support to someone whose political career consisted of being the mayor of a town of 354 people was not the best decision after all. In any case, Kemmerich won, and German national news media blew up, as did local protesters who took to the streets in outrage because Kemmerich had been elected with the help of the AfD, waving signs like "Schäm dich Kemmerich" (Shame on you Kemmerich), "Wer hat uns verraten? Die freien Demokraten!" (Who betrayed us? The free Democrats!), and "Es ist wieder geschehen!" (It happened again!)

Here we see a whole new level of crazy which, to my knowledge, has not been seen in contemporary politics before. We have a political party which has been so demonized by the public mentality that when that party offers its support to someone who is not even a member of that party, people across the nation feel the need to demonstrate, claiming that "It happened again", which I can only assume means something like "We elected a Nazi again", claiming the victorious candidate should be ashamed for something he did not do and had no involvement in: He was not involved in any way with the AfD and did not work together with them, but because the AfD gave their support to Kemmerich in the last round of voting, German media outlets today feel the need to insist that "Kemmerich's victory is not a victory but a defeat", that the FDP has allowed itself to be tainted by cooperation with the AfD, and that the only solution is to hold another election: Even a spokesman from the CDU (Christian Democratic Union), a party which did not have a candidate in the election, insisted that the only solution to this situation is to have a new election, because "there can be no cooperation with the AfD, because the AfD does not represent Christian democratic values". Then why didn't you have someone from your own party in the election?

I can't even begin to understand what kind of madness this is. People across Germany are saying that the political establishment has not taken the exclusion of "right-wing politics" seriously enough (how can a democratic political system function without an opposition party?), that everyone involved should be ashamed because they have betrayed the voters (yes, voters betrayed the voters by voting), and that the election of the person who received the most votes is a defeat for democracy (do these people know what democracy is?), insisting that the best and most democratic thing to do would be to throw out the results of the election and have another election. Yes, that's right, that's how democracy works: After people hold a vote, democracy means throwing out the results of that vote and choosing something else because you didn't like what people voted for.

Seriously. How can anyone not see that this is an extreme of hysteria, fanaticism, prejudice, hate, and ignorance? How can anyone not see that so very clearly?

The 2020 "earthquake in Thüringen", as news media are calling this event, is a loss for democracy, but not for the reasons why people are saying it is: It's not a loss for democracy because the person who received the most votes won the election, because that is exactly what democracy is. It's a loss for democracy because people are not accepting the results of a democratic vote, insisting that the only acceptable course of action is to ignore the results of the voting and try to get someone else elected. And all of this on the basis that someone is a "Nazi", when in fact the accused party is by no means a "Nazi" party, and in any case, the candidate under attack is not even a member of that party.

It just gets worse all the time. There really is no limit to how insane people can be. Mass hysteria is a common side-effect of democracy, and the fact that this ugly side of public opinion is now the voice of the mass media is the truest sign that democracy is falling apart.

UPDATE: The above was written on the morning of February 6, 2020, the day after the described events took place. However, the day just got more crazy from there when German chancellor Angela Merkel publicly called Kemmerich's election "unforgivable" (the German word she used was "unverzeihlich"), which means that democracy itself is unforgivable since the election was the result of a democratic vote. Then Christian Lindner, the leader of the FDP, announced that he was going to put pressure on Kemmerich to resign. Later in the day, Kemmerich did exactly this, announcing his resignation less than 24 hours after he had been declared Minister President of Thüringen. I can't even believe that things like this could happen. Besides the fact that Kemmerich did nothing wrong and had no reason to regret anything he'd done, do people not realize that a reaction like this gives the AfD a perfect and convenient weapon with which to perform a political assassination of anyone they don't like? If this is how people react when the AfD lend their support to someone who is not even a member of their own party, then all the AfD has to do in the future is voice their support for a particular candidate, and that person's political career can be instantly destroyed by some insane association with a "Nazi party" through a statement they had nothing to do with. Can this really be the world we live in? Is this real life? Can it really be that our world is this insane?