I’m having trouble maintaining an election.

I wrote last year about election time in Germany, and one of the aspects which fascinated me the most was the incredible variety of poltical parties in the race.

In the US, there’s a wide variety of parties, but only two that get enough votes to make a difference in most races: The Republicans and the Democrats.  Not that you’d know it from the election mailings and Robocalls.  Here’s a small sample of the incredible stack of mailings received by this household in the last month:

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Throughout my time in Germany, I had made arrangements to vote by absentee ballot.  The Broward County supervisor of elections office e-mailed me a PDF of the ballot for each election, and I printed it out, filled in the dots, scanned the result, and faxed it back. I still voted by absentee ballot in Tuesday’s midterm election because it was simpler to just follow through that way than to change my voting status this close to the election.

Because the Broward SOE has my (former) German address, I received these campaign mailings in Germany as well; big glossy cardboard fans of fluff and nonsense.    I did notice an interesting trend:  the mailings that I got while overseas were more often Republican than Democrat.  I assume that’s because the Republicans know that deployed military families are more likely to vote Republican and the Dems probably choose not to spend their money in that arena.  That’s just a guess, though, because Jenny (who has been receiving my postal mail since I left) made an observation that it’s very difficult to determine their party just from the mailings:  They often show no outward sign of which party affiliation they hold.

That didn’t affect the sheer volume of them, though.  If you have enough registered voters at your postal address, you could easily wallpaper a room with the mailings.  The Robocalls are prolific and awful if you have a land line, like my father.  I received none of them on my cell phone this year, however, which was nice.

That didn’t stop me from seeing the television commercials when I got back, or hearing the radio commercials.  Or hearing the endless discussion of the midterm elections on the news.  The elections went on this past Tuesday, and the Democrats took a pretty substantial hit.  The Republicans have been making pretty, empty noises about working with the Democrats to get things done, but the very next breath included things like repealing Obamacare and impeaching the President-  that doesn’t seem very cooperative to me.  Now that the Republicans have control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, I expect Presidential vetoes to hit an all time high.  One of my Facebook friends commented that now would be a great time to buy stock in Mont Blanc.

I’m just glad the election is over.  For all the Sturm und Drang about the massive shift in power, I really don’t think that anything will change:  Our Congress will still accomplish very little, and the state legislatures will continue to quietly remake the country in their ideological image.

But at least the mailings and the commercials will stop, at least until 2016’s Presidential election starts to ramp up.

Were you annoyed by this year’s campaign ads, flyers, brochures, signs, and zeppelins?

Voting Time In Germany

I don’t often talk about politics, because it’s the fastest way I know to divide people.  However, it’s election season here in Germany, and that means the political placards are coming out.

Politics here are, by American political standards, incredibly complicated.  Germany has a multi-party system, with two major and three minor national parties.  However, the states here also have their own parliaments and there are many, many  more political parties at that level.    There are multiple elections- one for national races, one for state races.    Some of the political groups have really  entertaining names, too.

Here’s just a tiny selection of the many, many political parties here:

  • Anarchist Pogo Party of Germany (APPD)
  • Bavaria Party (BP)
  • Citizens In Rage
  • Communist Party of Germany
  • Ecological Democratic Party (ödp)
  • Feminist Party of Germany (DIE FRAUEN)
  • German Communist Party (DKP)
  • German Social Union (DSU)
  • Green Party
  • Human Environment Animal Protection (Die Tierschutzpartei)
  • The Left
  • Marxist–Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD)
  • Party of Bible-abiding Christians (PBC)
  • Party of Reason (pdv)
  • Pirate Party
  • Revolutionary Socialist League (RSB)
  • Social Equality Party (PSG)
  • Statt Party
  • The Freedom – Civil rights Party for more Freedom and Democracy
  • The Republicans (REP)

I liked the sound of the Party Of Reason until I found out that it was endorsed by Ron Paul.  Anyway, the biggest sign of the upcoming elections is the sudden manifestation of the political placards everywhere.

Most of ’em are pretty dull, just faces with vague slogans.  For example, Astrid Lamby is with the Ecological Dems and she says values are choosable!

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This dude just says “you have it in hand.”  I hope he means the vote.

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I don’t know much about this candidate either, but her placards are nondescript as hell, and everywhere.

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This smug looking liberal bastard says that how you live is your choice.  The URL translates to “cheap and free,” so you can pretty much imagine the talking points.

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This guy “keeps the word.”  Literally.  He’s holding a giant word in his hands.

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“Color your world!”   Graf Lerchenfeld’s political slogan would be right at home with Disney.

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I’ve been saving the next few posters for last-  the Bayern Partei!  They advocate Bavaria breaking away from the rest of Germany.

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No, really, they completely want to secede from the rest of Germany.  Like now.

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This last placard is my absolute favorite.  I love this so much that I went online and found the source image instead of using a picture of my own, because it’s just so magnificent.  The slogan means “Paid enough.”  As in, “Bavaria has given enough money to the rest of Germany.”

The donkey shitting out gold is a particularly nice touch.

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And finally, we have the bastard side of politics.  The NPD, or National Democratic Party, is an extreme right-wing political party with Neo-Nazi leanings.  They’ve met with David Duke, and they’ve managed to stay just barely on the correct side of the law.  While Naziism and Nazi symbols and paraphernalia are illegal here, simply being a hate group isn’t illegal by itself.  The group has survived numerous attempts to ban them, and they’re still kicking.  In November 2008, the NPD published a document entitled “Africa conquers the White House” which stated that the election of Barack Obama was the result of “the American alliance of Jews and Negroes” and that Obama aimed to destroy the United States’ “white identity.”

On 5 September of this year, the NPD came to Regensburg for an authorized political speech.  The local newspaper Mittelbayerische  posted this photo of the speech.  The NPD people are on the right side of the photo.  The huge mass of people on the left, behind the Polizei vehicles cordoning off the area, are the counter protesters.  I’ve never been prouder of this city than I was when I saw this photo.

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Who would win in a fight, the Piraten Partei (Pirate Party) or a clan of Ninjas?