Why do smart people vote Republicans
US elections also polarize in Germany : 120,000 votes for the US election
There has never been so much interest. Around 120,000 Americans live in Germany, 21,000 of them in Berlin. They too are allowed to cast their votes when the US president is elected. But even the Germans, who passed their information booths, usually had encouraging remarks ready, as the chairman of the “Democrats Abroad”, Candice Kerestan observed: “Toi, toi, toi!” Or “We'll keep our fingers crossed.” George Weinberg , Board member of the "Republicans Overseas Germany" and advisor to the global organization, on the other hand, will "not be beating the drum". This is a political decision because his party respects German territory. However, he uses appearances on talk shows to publicize and represent the positions of the Republicans in Germany. On election evening he can be seen on Phoenix and on ZDF. And the large transatlantic organizations based here, including the American Academy and the Aspen Institute, started a series of virtual events with the title “Road to Election Night & Beyond” at the beginning of September.
Fever at the election parties
The German interest in US elections is not new. When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, the cheers echoed through Berlin on election night: he could be heard in the Telekom representative office, where the US embassy and the Tagesspiegel had invited, and in the Bertelsmann representative office in Unter den Linden in clubs and at universities. In the crowded “Babylon” cinema, where the “Democrats Abroad” held the biggest party at the time, people danced on the benches.
The postal vote flop
George Weinberg, who lives half in Berlin and half in Florida, was four years ago with his wife and friends at a party for the last US elections in the state representation of Baden-Württemberg. They felt pretty much in the minority because everyone around was looking forward to Hillary Clinton's election victory. Their joy was all the greater when they learned the next morning that Donald Trump would be the next US President. Weinberg's voice hadn't even been counted. He's still audibly annoyed about that. In order to vote by mail, he had to provide two signatures, one on the envelope and a second on the ballot paper. These two signatures were not similar, he was told, so the vote was not counted. This time, as a precaution, asked in advance whether his vote is valid.
Much of what has to do with elections in the United States is not straightforward. Candice Kerestan says that this is already possible online via email in around 35 US states. In 25 others, such as New York, only by traditional mail. Even in California you cannot yet vote by email, but you can also vote by fax in addition to the traditional post if you consciously refrain from secrecy. The deadlines also vary from state to state. In some cases the postmark from November 3rd counts, in others the entry postmark from election day.
Win voters in Germany
Both Republicans and Democrats are currently asking voters for help. Candice Kerestan always recommends a visit to the homepage (www.democratsabroad.org). Before the election deadline in her home state of Pennsylvania, she herself spent a whole night emailing about 500 people she knew from high school and college to get them to vote: “You signed up ? ”Asked the 27-year-old who is doing her doctorate in political science at the University of Bonn.
In her campaigning, she was primarily concerned with encouraging long-term members to definitely cast their votes and attracting new voters who were previously unknown to the “Democrats Abroad”. “We have set up information stands mainly where Americans like to be,” says Candice Kerestan. This included relevant cafes and restaurants, but also markets. In addition to the 28 board members, 200 volunteers are out and about in Germany to support the “Democrats Abroad”. Sometimes they are annoyed by the Germans. “We have to answer the same questions over and over again,” says Candice Kerestan with a sigh. "What's wrong with you? What's wrong with your country? ”She added that there was a constant need to explain that Trump is not America. Many Americans, like themselves, think very differently.
She is convinced that the majority of US citizens living in Germany vote democratically. "They know the good health system here, the easy access to education and want to make this a reality in their own country as well." Corona also gave the motivation to vote a boost. In contrast to four years ago, the mood is not so sure of victory this time. "Of course we hope Joe Biden wins. But we fight until the last second"
There will be no election party. After all, the German Democrats come together on election night on Zoom. "We are flexible," says the chairwoman. The Republicans are also not planning a party at the moment, "because that doesn't fit in with the times either".
No dollars for the Republicans
George Weinberg likes to emphasize that the "Republicans Overseas" do not receive any money from the USA: "Not a penny!" One of the goals that Republicans are pursuing in Germany is to exempt US citizens living here from the obligation to file a tax return in the USA. These tax returns are very tedious and very costly, especially for companies. He doesn't know how many Republicans there are in Germany. However, he knows from many top managers and entrepreneurs that they are close to the Republicans. “But they don't say it in public.” That would also be unwise and would possibly damage their companies, he believes, “in view of the hatred and agitation in the German media against President Donald Trump”. This mood is completely incomprehensible to him. When asked what reasons speak for Donald Trump from his point of view, he begins to list some of the 50 points he wrote down. In the first three years before the pandemic broke out, he had created nearly 10 million jobs, had "terminated bad contracts that Obama had signed" and had been very successful in combating ISIS. He knows from the mail comments that he receives about his television appearances, "that here in Germany too many educated, intelligent, well-informed people" can follow his argument. China plays a major role. Republicans loved the Internet to learn about Fox TV. Weinberg doesn't think much of CNN. "Even Al Jazeera is more objective than that."
The Aspen Institute is also following the elections very closely. This is even easier than it used to be, because in virtual meetings it doesn't matter which side of the Atlantic the discussion participants are on. "The world is suddenly a big living room," says Aspen Director Rüdiger Lentz happily. His goal is to get a differentiated picture, to become aware of things that have been neglected. "The Germans are rushing to Trump and have cemented their enemy," he says. “As if it were about Beelzebub versus Savior.” But not everything is wrong just because Trump says it is. “And even if Joe Biden becomes president, the conflicts will not be resolved.” He expects that China, the trade balance problem and arms cooperation will continue to be discussed and argued. "Only that will be done in a friendlier tone." He tries to be fair. "Trump has put some things on the agenda that belong there." He was also elected because he reflected the silent majority opinion.
Rüdiger Lentz is one of the co-initiators of the virtual election event on November 3rd, which will also focus on the personal ties of the participants to the USA. For the time after the election, he believes that the ability to compromise will come to the fore in the future. "We are no longer just friends and partners, but also opponents of interests." At the Aspen Institute, it is important to depict both sides.
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