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HomeMeinungFOCUS-Kolumne von Jan Fleischhauer: Abgehoben, leblos, realitätsfern: Willkommen in der Welt der...

FOCUS-Kolumne von Jan Fleischhauer: Abgehoben, leblos, realitätsfern: Willkommen in der Welt der Ricarda Lang

Television has the potential to be lethal. A moment of carelessness, some nonsense uttered in front of a running camera, and one becomes the nation’s laughing stock. In the past, before the emergence of YouTube and the ZDF mediathek, there was hope that not everyone had witnessed the blunder. “It won’t spread,” was a popular phrase used to console someone over a faux pas.

Franz Josef Strauß visibly tipsy connecting from Munich to interpret the results of the 1987 Bundestag election with a heavy tongue: this has been described a thousand times. But who actually saw it? Those who were not present at the moment had to rely on reports. That was also nice. But we all know the impression the immediate observation leaves.

Ricarda Lang on Markus Lanz: It was awful

Nothing is forgotten nowadays. Everything is captured for eternity, to be endlessly repeated across numerous channels until even the last fool is informed.

What was, in terms of the response, the television event of the month? Ricarda Lang’s appearance on Markus Lanz. I didn’t see it, I’m already in bed at that time. But when even the nice man at the vegetable stand at Simmel, my Edeka dealer, mentioned it to me, I decided to watch the clip.

Was it as bad as everyone says? Yes, it was as bad.

The problem with the 30 minutes with Ricarda Lang was not her lack of knowledge. Who knows the average pension amount? I would have also missed the mark on that question. Well, I’m not a social policy expert, but still: we have seen much deeper depths of ignorance.

There is no sentence that touches the heart

The problem with the appearance was the appearance itself. This slightly strained indulgence of a person who is firmly convinced that there is no other way but his own path, and who is therefore happy to explain it for the fifth time, even though he actually thinks that twice would have been enough.

I’ve heard that Ms. Lang is supposed to be very nice in private. Allegedly, she can also laugh at herself. But her talk shows are a disaster. At which political academy do they learn to speak in such clichés, so contrived and artificial? There is no sentence that touches the heart – and this, even though there is constant talk of the emotional offers that one must make.

In politics, they like to look down on Bavaria. Oh, the Bavarians: so rough, so loud, so uncouth. It may all be true. But at least the voters there understand what the rulers are talking about.

Have you ever been to a beer tent appearance? I am wisely leaving out the Bavarian part of my readers here. 2000 to 3000 people, when it’s full. Everyone has something to eat on the table, and if they don’t have anything to eat in front of them, then they definitely have something to drink. That means: when the star enters the stage, he is dealing with a crowd that has already gotten into the mood without him and now doesn’t want to experience a drop in mood.

Anyone who wants to move to the front row in Bavaria must survive in the beer tent

I’ve seen what it’s like when the crowd loses interest. That is brutal. The noise starts at the very back, where the speaker can only make out the listeners as silhouettes, and it continues to the front, growing louder and louder, until the noise wave reaches the speaker’s lectern, where the dignitaries sit, the only ones who keep their mouths shut because the speaker can see them from above.

Anyone in Bavaria who wants to move to the first row must survive in the beer tent.

In order to rise through the ranks, one must succeed in the beer tent. This also rules out the possibility of individuals who may have succeeded in the backroom dealings of the party but failed in front of the general public from reaching the top. The candidate who relies on the support of the political establishment is virtually unknown in Bavaria.

Most people think that they are choosing the politicians who will then determine their lives, but that is only half true. 50% of the parliamentarians sitting in the parliament have never faced the voters. They owe their seats solely to the generosity of the party that nominated them.

There are top politicians who have never won an election in their lives. Years ago, I looked at the career of Ursula von der Leyen. Wherever she appeared in front of people, it ended in disaster. Even Frank-Walter Steinmeier was a huge disappointment as a campaigner. No matter how hard he tried, he simply couldn’t win the majority. In the end, they took pity on him and got him a constituency in Brandenburg, where he practically couldn’t lose.

Those who spend too much time in committees lose sight of reality

The campaigner depends on the approval of the citizen for their advancement, which assumes that they are understood and liked by the public. On the other hand, the party worker relies entirely on the committees that determine the distribution of positions for their rise. In the committees, what matters most is how reliably one has served the cause, which state association they come from, or which political faction they belong to.

Those who spend too much time in committees lose sight of reality. That’s the disadvantage. The President has now called on the government to better explain its policies. I consider this the ultimate form of contempt for the voters. When people complain, it’s not because they don’t like the policies. No, they simply haven’t understood yet how good the policies are that they reject!

The funny thing is that the SPD has always been blessed with politicians who were close to the people, as they say. Gerhard Schröder, Sigmar Gabriel, Klaus Wowereit, Kurt Beck. Unforgettable how Beck told an unemployed person who was pressing him: “If you wash and shave, then you’ll have a job in three weeks.” The surrounding journalists were naturally outraged. But Beck just said, “Life is as it is.”

Why do many citizens feel such a distance from politics? This also has to do with the representatives who currently call the shots. Why is someone like Wolfgang Bosbach still in demand? He has no office or mandate. The last time he sat in the Bundestag for the CDU was six years ago. Nevertheless, he could hold a campaign event every evening if he wanted. The calls from party friends who would like to have him as a figurehead in their constituency have not stopped.

In the future, we will see more politicians like Ricarda Lang rather than fewer

Why? Quite simply, people like listening to him. He doesn’t patronize them, he doesn’t coddle them, but he also doesn’t overwhelm them with a diatribe about why Germany is doomed. Bosbach has a mix of cheerfulness, down-to-earthness, and sincerity that persuades people to vote for the CDU.

One would think that in the party headquarters, they would consider how to nominate more people who speak in a way that others voluntarily listen to them. Aren’t we currently saying that we urgently need to strengthen our democracy? But in reality, it’s going in the opposite direction.

In March, the government initiated a major electoral reform to finally limit the growth of the Bundestag. That’s the stated goal. However, there is also an unspoken goal, which is to devalue the first vote, on which the directly elected members of parliament depend for their seats.

In the future, the decisive vote will be the second vote, that is, the vote for the respective party. If someone wins their constituency but their party didn’t do so well, they might, unfortunately, end up with nothing and have to make way for a list member. The electoral reform is the list’s revenge on the direct candidates.

In the future, we will see more politicians like Ricarda Lang rather than fewer.

Read all columns by Jan Fleischhauer here.

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