Here in Germany, dozens have died in floods, hundreds are missing, thousands have lost their homes. It’s devastating. This is the climate crisis unravelling in one of the richest parts of the world — which for a long time thought it would be “safe”.
No place is “safe” any more. pic.twitter.com/ECtqpmlYi2
— Luisa Neubauer (@Luisamneubauer) July 16, 2021
You might have seen Angela Merkel visiting Joe Biden for the last time before resigning from office this fall.
If you follow the news, you might have also seen the floodings in central Europe, mainly in Germany.
So far, 150 people have lost their lives, and countless homes were destroyed by the massive amounts of water. Most experts agree that these floodings are the result of climate change.
And that’s where this story gets really interesting.
Climate change was already the main topic for the upcoming election in Germany. The Green Party is running a campaign that emphasizes the importance of addressing climate change; their plan is pretty similar to the Green New Deal of progressive Democrats in the United States.
On the other side, we have the party of Angela Merkel and their candidate Armin Laschet. I have to admit that I am biased as someone who would never ever vote for that party (CDU), but I also like Angela Merkel.
Most folks outside of Germany have sympathies for the woman who stood up to Donald Trump; some called her the leader of the free world. If you think that Armin Laschet stands for the same policies just because he is running for the same party, I have to disappoint you—he is actually quite the opposite of her.
We don’t want to dive too deep into German politics, but Merkel was never the typical representative of her party—but her potential successor Laschet is.
The German conservative party was upset with Merkel showing her human side during the refugee crisis in 2015, legalizing same-sex marriage, and shutting down nuclear power plants after the nightmare of Fukushima. Merkel stepping down opened the door for all these frustrated White men to reclaim the power—and Laschet is one of them.
After becoming the candidate, Laschet didn’t get tired of warning voters that we shouldn’t hurt the economy by trying to protect the environment. And now, his home state gets flooded, and he tries to portray himself as the savior. Needless to say that most Germans don’t buy that narrative.
But it got even worse. He visited one of the hardest-hit areas with the German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier. While Steinmeier was expressing his empathy with those who lost loved ones and their homes, Laschet is giggling in the background (apparently, someone pulled a good joke).
After the sh*tstorm on social media started, Laschet apologized for his unfortunate appearance at that press conference. Have a look yourself:
— toto (@josefheynckes) July 17, 2021
Normally, I am not a big fan of making politics with shortcomings of candidates (and rather focus on actual policies), but in this case, I just can’t hold back anymore.
For the last weeks, German conservatives had been bashing Annalena Baerbock, candidate of the Green Party, with a series of orchestrated attacks on her personality, political achievements, and policies. Her chances of winning the election are shrinking week-by-week because of these controversies around her candidacy.
I preferred the other potential candidate the Green Party had before nominating Baerbock, but Laschet becoming the new chancellor of Germany would be a reason for me to leave the country again.
I feel that he is the German Ted Cruz. Here are three reasons for that statement:
1. Climate change.
Laschet doesn’t deny climate change, but he also doesn’t fully understand why this topic matters so much to voters. He is a strong ally of the coal industry (Germany doesn’t have an oil industry), supports the car lobby, and defends the rights of his voters to pollute the planet. He is a friend of the status quo.
Laschet is associated with a Catholic community called “Opus Dei.” They are ultra-conservative, against same-sex marriage, and often described as a Catholic cult.
3. Friends with conspiracy theorists.
Republicans like Ted Cruz have Steve Bannon and Alex Jones—Laschet has Max Otte and Hans-Georg Maaßen. In hopes of getting some votes from far-right voters, Laschet doesn’t shy away from well-known right-wing agitators.
COVID-19, the Trump presidency, and upcoming conflicts with Russia because of the North Stream gas pipeline took their toll on the relationship between the United States and Germany.
I am a firm believer that only a strong alliance between Germany and the United States will ensure sufficient action against climate change. If Merkel was leading Germany for another four years, I wouldn’t be worried about her and Biden figuring it out, but the reality is that Biden might have to deal with German Ted Cruz soon.
Let’s hope the best—but I am scared of the rise of a German Tea Party movement.