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Commentary by Hugo Müller-Vogg: Lang responds to the Germans’ discontent with an arrogant argument

Engaging in interviews is a routine task for Ricarda Lang. The co-chair of the Green Party is articulate. Unlike many other politicians, she usually speaks confidently.

At first glance, what she says sounds good compared to the stammering of some other politicians. However, the favorable impression fades when one does not only focus on the “sound” but also on the content.

Lang recently gave an interview to the ARD magazine “kontrovers”. It was supposed to primarily focus on the farmers and their protests. However, Lang managed to skillfully “skirt” around the topic.

The communication argument is not only flimsy but also arrogant

When things go awry – and a lot is going awry in the traffic light coalition – politicians usually quickly find an excuse: the previous government, foreign countries, the weather. Lang resorted to another common excuse: inadequate communication.

It’s unbearable, yet Lang shows no mercy in that regard. According to the Greens, the protests of the farmers, hauliers, and restaurateurs, as well as the poll slump of the coalition parties, are not due to the government policy, but primarily to the “not really good” communication.

The communication argument is not only flimsy, but also arrogant. It implies: Our policies are actually excellent. But we market them poorly, and therefore the citizens do not realize how excellent their governance actually is. So, in a way, the citizens are to blame if they don’t see how well the country is actually doing.

Lang’s statements about the “animal welfare levy” planned by the Green Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir reveal how far politicians like her have strayed from reality. “Animal welfare levy,” is a nice, belittling term for an extra tax on meat.

Lang reveals a rather warped understanding of solidarity

Lang takes it a step further, euphemistically referring to it as a “farmer’s solidarity”. The proceeds from this levy should help farmers to rebuild their barns so that, from a green perspective, the animals can be kept “appropriately”.

“Farmer’s solidarity” – let that sink in for a moment.

Lang reveals a rather warped understanding of solidarity. Solidarity generally means that people support each other.

The best example is the statutory health insurance: Contributions increase with income. But everyone is entitled to the same benefits, regardless of the amount of their contribution.

The state makes life harder for farmers with regulations

Solidarity with the farmers, according to Lang’s understanding, looks like this: The state makes life harder and production more expensive for the farmers with ever-increasing regulations. Consumers, including the “farmer’s solidarity,” are expected to pay the resulting higher prices – in the spirit of “solidarity.”

How about the coalition parties starting to show solidarity towards the farmers? This includes understanding that it is a significant competitive disadvantage when our farmers pay more for diesel than many of their European competitors.

Solidarity with the farmers would not even impose additional costs on the state. The policy just needs to stop harassing the agriculture sector, a practice that has existed not only since the formation of the coalition.

Returning to the interview, Lang did not want to delve too much into the farmers’ protests and instead advocated for a “new promise of fairness for the middle of society”, for all those who get up in the morning, work hard, but still can barely afford the rent.

Lang knows how to juggle with concepts

And what should this promise look like? This should include higher wages as well as “finally advancing tenant protection.” However, the federal government is not responsible for wages, thankfully.

The high rents are not due to insufficient tenant protection, but because there is a shortage of housing. No new housing will be created by green plans to further limit rents.

“Farmer’s solidarity,” “new promise of fairness”: Lang knows how to juggle with concepts. However, in politics, it primarily depends on actions, not on the accompanying music. Because good communication cannot hide bad politics in the long run. The citizens are smarter than some politicians would like.

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