The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

September 28, 2013

Campaigning the old-fashioned way

BERLIN — For a visitor from the land of win-at-any-cost elections and ceaseless partisanship, the election that just concluded here, resulting in a triumphant third term for Chancellor Angela Merkel, offers a glimpse of politics from another planet.

On the most technical level is the fact that the campaign, by American standards, was fleetingly short and bargain-basement cheap. No surprise there, except the magnitude of the financial gulf. Merkel spent about $27 million, mostly in public funds, during the six-week campaign — and that was for the entire slate of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU). By contrast, the Obama re-election campaign alone spent $700 million — not including extra cash from the party or outside groups.

More surprising, as emerged in the course of a visit organized by the German Marshall Fund, was the relative absence of the modern arsenal of high-tech campaign weaponry. It has become common for other countries to import the techniques and even the operatives of American political campaigns, but the German way is creakily old-fashioned.

The notion of data-driven micro-targeting is offensive to Germans, for whom the idea that a political party would purchase information about voters’ preferences and behaviors evokes unwelcome history of overbearing government. Even the most rudimentary of information — voters’ party preferences and records of participation — is unavailable here.

Two days before the election, Thorben Albrecht, director of policy planning for the left-of-center Social Democratic Party, Merkel’s likely partner in a new coalition government, proudly described his party’s plan to knock on 5 million doors, even if they didn’t know what voters they were contacting. “It’s never been done here before,” he said of the canvassing.

Likewise, another staple of modern American politics — negative advertising — was absent, for the simple reason that it would be certain to backfire. “We don’t attack each other,” Stefan Liebich, a member of parliament from the Left Party said as he campaigned in a gentrifying district in East Berlin. “Germans wouldn’t like it.”

Text Only
Opinion
  • Holly Youngquist Friends of the Library book sale is underway

    Friends of the Library Book Sale is open now. The sale is open to all until 8 p.m. today and on Friday, Aug. 1, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Finally, Saturday, Aug. 2, is box day. From 9 a.m. to  3 p.m., books will sell at $3 per box.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cremation service helped pet owner in her time of need

    I wanted to share some positive news about a business located in Clinton that I’m guessing most residents aren’t aware even exists. It’s Northridge Pet Cremation on Main Avenue and for me they were recently a godsend.

    July 31, 2014

  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A Cappella choir concert was a success

    The CHS A Cappella reunion was great. It was real great to hear so many good voices of so many former choir members.

    July 31, 2014

  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Time to boost social security

    It's time for Congress to act so that Social Security benefits can finally start to keep pace with the cost of living.

    July 31, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Off and on the record Let us now praise anonymous sources.The new White House press secretary got into a familiar old spat with the White House press corps the other day over the use of anonymous sources.Josh Earnest — has there ever been a more perfectly named White Hous

    July 25, 2014

  • Be more informed

    Blame the city.That is a favorite pastime of many, including me at times. Driving over that pesky pothole or paying that annual property tax bill can lead to some choice words referencing the city. Nobody takes the brunt of being the scapegoat more t

    July 25, 2014

  • CCC thanks community, collaborators for successful movie night Clinton Community College would like to thank those who participated in the free outdoor movie showing of “Captain America – Winter Soldier” on the evening of Friday, July 18.We are grateful to have such wonderful community collaborators in the Erick

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook