You can bet that the title of today's piece has been uttered a great many times in Germany over the last 24 hours. Germans went to the polls yesterday (some of them anyway) with the results still uncertain. I love this headline from Deutsche Welle online:Americans Confused by German Elections
I think the headline they were actually going for was "Americans Have No Idea and Could Not Care Less That Germany is Having Elections", but we can let that go for the moment. Here is a bit from that article:For the meantime, it's still unclear to whom President George W. Bush will send the traditional congratulations message. Once the official White House statements are on their way, Americans will have a better idea of how they should interpret the German election.
This is one of the things that drives the rest of the world mad- but it is a simple fact- most Americans don't live their lives in a constant state of preoccupation with the internal politics of other countries. I am not saying it is a good thing, or a bad thing. But does anyone on main street USA care who will lead the next inefective government in Germany? I doubt it.
Anyone who is
watching the elections in Germany (at least most readers of this site) must be chortling with delight as Dresden becomes the Florida of this election. It is too close to call and results won't be in from Dresden until October 2nd, and even then the odd coalition building that occurs in the German federal government may produce odd (to say the least) results. As Der Speigel puts it
:The greatest fear of many conservative Southern German politicians may now be a reality: the outcome of German elections may be decided in the East. Specifically, by one district in the city of Dresden. Here, 219,000 voters have yet to vote and could very well bring Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrats (SPD) into a dead heat with the opposition. In Sunday's election, the SPD chalked up a mere three parliamentary seats less than their main rivals, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU). But so far all coalition possibilities have hit snags and it remains up in the air if Schröder or his challenger Angela Merkel will end up sitting in the chancellery.
Just imagine if during the next election cycle we allowed a major voting block, say, oh I don't know- Florida, to wait a few weeks after the election to cast their votes. Imagine the chaos and gleeful trumpeting of the international press at how screwed up our election system is.
I suppose we have to be bigger than that, of course. As the premier power in the world today we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard. In that light, if you are interested in the German elections and want to know more I highly recommend the excellent blog David's Medienkritik
, especially this post: Davids Final Word: Pre-Election Facts, Notes and Impressions
Whatever the eventual outcome of this electoral mess in Germany I am certain of a few things. Unemployment will still be high. The Turkish issue will not be resolved. The same nation that we had to twice go to war with in the last century and which we tried to teach democracy, and then protected from the USSR for over four decades will still continue to trade America bashing for actual policy. And not many people in America will know, or care, who heads the German government. The American people will only ask one thing, as we always have- if we need you, will you be there to stand with us? Care to guess my predicted answer to that question?
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