My former school in Saudi Arabia had a Model UN club that pretty much everyone could join. At the very beginning I was as keen as mustard (I just looked up this idiom online. Let’s just say I was very enthusiastic) to join this club. I mean it is MODEL UN CLUB! How awesome would that look on my résumé, right?
But as I spent some time thinking about the offer, I finally decided not to join, just as I was standing in front of the teacher’s room, my hand in the air, ready to knock on the door.
I am not trying to say that politics are not important. Sometimes they are even catchy and entertaining but for some reason I have not managed to develop such a big interest in politics based on the way it is presented to the public. Now, after traveling the world a little myself, I am indeed more into that topic though. That however, was due to my own efforts and not the sorry attempt of my German history teacher to teach us how to vote or how to perceive politics.
Generally, every time elections come along all of the satire shows on German state television have a tremendous amount of material to make fun of.
I think that the reason why so many young people struggle to be seriously interested in politics (especially in Germany where I have lived for most of my life and what this post is all about), is because German politics many times lack the right amount of seriousness themselves .
I was just thinking back of the weeks before the German elections, as I decided to write this post.
There were political posters all over town. On every billboard you would look at, the smiling face of some politician would look back at you with this “please vote for me” expression on his or her face. Or at least this is how it appeared to me.
What I found so funny about this whole situation was that all this time, the politicians were just doing their regular work, without really going out to the people and JUST three weeks before the elections they have decided to change their tactics and all of a sudden it was all about the average German citizen.
This really makes me think of students that come running to their teachers, a couple of weeks if not days before the end of the quarter, begging for the improvement of their grades. Well, this is pretty much what happens every single time elections are about to come around.
One sunny day in September I was walking around in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg to take some pictures, when I saw a group of young people advocating for the green party. It was a group of vivacious, young people with big smiles on their faces that were giving out flower seeds to pedestrians. Nice thing to do actually and probably even a good tactic to raise environmental awareness but WHY does such a thing happen only once in four years and why only the moment politicians need to polish up their general image?
I have also been passing by the Potsdamer Platz, where I saw a Starbucks van. The Starbucks staff was giving out small portions of Starbucks coffee to pedestrians for free (even though there is no such thing as a free lunch, to quote Milton Friedman at this point). I would not have been surprised if this would have been something of vote campaign origin either.
Another thing worth mentioning was Mrs. Merkel’s visit to a local college prep school. Guess what she was doing there? Substituting history in a senior class!!! I mean, personally I think this is a great thing to do. Coming out to the young generation like this. However, the fact that this was all just voting tactics (which some of the students even admitted on TV later) made the whole thing seem simply hilarious to me.
Remember those times when the teacher would be mad at you for not paying attention during a lecture? Don’t worry about it. Politicians don’t take themselves seriously either. I was watching a government meeting on TV one morning, where all the potential chancellor candidates were giving something that I would call a persuasive speech. Just like in school for history or debate class.
Just imagine the following: So there is a politician giving a really good speech and being so enthusiastic about it, his face turns red. But what do you think all the other politicians in the Reichstag do meanwhile? Well, the majority of them was either playing with their Ipads or chatting with some ministers, just as Mrs. Merkel did while one of her opponents was accusing her government of poor leadership.
Think what you want but after watching all this election circus I am really not surprised about the fact that so many Germans have refused to vote this year. Effort needs to be put into something constantly and not just three weeks before election day.