Monday, November 5, 2012

She’s a good girl ... loves Jesus and America, too... Part V - Election Edition

Tuesday - the election day in the USA - is almost there and since I'm as usual pretty bad with keeping my mouth shut, I just inhaled and launched my blogging software to write my election post. 

As a German native, passport holder and resident I logically cannot vote in the USA although I care a lot about the future of this country. Thankfully - and we should not take this for granted - the freedom of speech is in place and in the United States as well as in Germany so I can at least write down my thoughts. 


Most importantly:  You should vote! Democracy is nothing that happens to you - you ARE the democracy and there is no bigger threat to the political system than not voting. It is your responsibility. Make your choice and your voice heard. 


IF I could vote - well you can see in the image on top who I would vote for. From the perspective of a German that is by the way an easy choice, because if that would be Germany, there would be no Mitt Romney and no Republican Party - at least not in the recent form - because their program includes several proposals that infringe the German constution and diverse laws in place. There is especially this one from the constitution, which would stop Mr. Romney and his team dead right way:

Article 20, paragraph 1:
Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland ist ein demokratischer und sozialer Bundesstaat

Translation:  The Federal Republic of Germany is a democratic, social and federal state.

Yes, we have the word SOCIAL in the constitutional definition of our nation and I am very proud of it. We are the living proof that a country can be one of the economically most successful countries in the world and a stable democracy with having at the same time a social system in place that is - although it is still by far not ideal - capable of providing a certain level of social security including health insurance, pension system, education and the security of basic livelihood for its citizens. 


Sometimes when I try to explain the social aspect of our political system to Americans (none of those a close friend thankfully) they stare at me puzzled and state: "So Germany is a socialist country!?"
SIGH ... no, it's not! By definition (Oxford Dictionary) socialism is:


"a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole."

The idea came up when the unlimited capitalism of the industrialization had led to an equally limitless exploitation of labor and an inhuman society benefiting only a small minority of capitalists.
Let's quote Kurt Vonnegut for better understanding of the idealistic concept especially contrasting the reality of the so called socialist countries at the former Eastern bloc:

""Socialism" is no more an evil word than "Christianity". Socialism no more prescribed Joseph Stalin and his secret police and shuttered churches than Christianity prescribed the Spanish Inquisition. Christianity and socialism alike, in fact, prescribe a society dedicated to the proposition that all men, women, and children are created equal and shall not starve." (Kurt Vonnegut, "Man Without a Country")


That said ... Germany is by the definition no socialist country. Our system is called social market economy and it is the - fairly good working - approach to have the best of both worlds with providing a system of social security and allowing the privately driven economy to be succesful and internationally competitive. It is not perfect, it is always in a process of change, it is not easy to handle and balance, it does not come cheap for anybody, but - in my opinion - it is absolutely worth it.
 

That said ... Barrack Obama is by definition also no socialist. To get a better picture let's put his political positioning in an (international) perspective at the example of the political parties in Germany:
Here Obama with his program would not even really qualify for the Social Democratic Party - SPD (moderate left wing, 2nd biggest party in the country), because his approach is still significantly too conservative and "liberal" 
(note: the use of the word "liberal" is different in Germany it translates maybe a bit better as libertarian). His position can be best compared with the slightly more social wing of the FDP - the liberal / libertarian (see note above) party in Germany, that usually works in coalition with the conservative CDU/CSU.  The US Republicans are of all parties in Germany closest to the CSU, but in lots of the topics on their agenda they even range beyond the political spectrum we have here.

Barrack Obama is a hard working political realist (he was from the beginning much more realistic about what would be possible in a first term than many of his voters) who tries to be the President of all Americans - despite of race, gender, sexual orientation or social class. He is not a socialist, he does not want to cut your personal freedom, he supports although his political opponents try to maintain the opposite the US economy (Some interesting numbers about the mostly positive development during Obama's term can be found for example here at CNN), but he is also not the Messiah like super hero many had hoped for.  But what he does with all he got is fighting for a fair chance for a happy, healthy and successful life for all citizens of this great country. Wasn't that what America was once all about? 

So let the man just do his job for four more years.  Thank you. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tina,

    I found your comparison between American and German parties most interesting.

    I am not an American - so I have no right to jump to a conclusion about American politics. But I must admit that the idea of Mitt Romney as President of the USA gives me the heebie-jeebies.

    So I would obviously be really happy if your article could help some of your American friends to get rid of their phobia of "socialism" which seems to be a blood-curdling term for those who imagine that Mr. Romney could solve America's problems.

    Pascale

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