Klaus Brinkbäumer is program director of the MDR in Leipzig. You can reach him at Klaus.Brinkbaeumer@extern.tagesspiegel.de or on Twitter at @Brinkbaeumer.
In some weeks the human brain, mine at least, is mysteriously occupied with the same people over and over again, and at some point it clicks and I understand why. Two men have occupied me in the past few days, one in America and one in Germany, and they have nothing to do with each other, actually, but maybe they do. Because the self-loving cynic and the icy Narcissus are types of our present who have power and strength, mostly destructive ones.
Florida governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, believes he is an upcoming president and has learned how to become one from a previous president: one should rail against migration and abortion, against the media, scientists and the political enemy, the Democrats, Joe Biden . DeSantis does all of this loudly and gruffly; Demarcation and polarization motivate and mobilize voters.
That is why De Santis scoffs at masks and vaccinations and raves about America’s freedom to shape one’s own life. In Florida, people are still and have long since contracted the coronavirus in record numbers and die in record numbers while and because their governor bans his state’s schools from requiring masks to be worn. “Freedom” can also mean the freedom to be stupid, that freedom to have no social behavior or team spirit, no more ethical standards.
It will eventually become the freedom to die from Covid-19 and prolong the pandemic, even though both could be avoided. We can assume that Ron DeSantis knows all of this and factored in the deaths as it helps his career.
They strike in the delta wave, organize chaos
Since we have just been to team spirit: Anyone who has ever played in a team has learned that it is kitsch nonsense when footballers tell the camera that it doesn’t matter which of them scores the goal – in real athletes’ life both have to stand side by side, Egoism and altruism.
If I want the ball to do something spectacular and win with it, and if I know my place and trust my fellow people at the same time, then we will have joy together, and we will also win.
So to Claus Weselsky. Most of what I read about the man I don’t care: how short his tie is, how sweaty he talks. It doesn’t matter because the person and the role match. I think it would be strange if German union leaders looked and talked like George Clooney.
However: We have all been learning discipline and solidarity, empathy too, in a new way for 20 months. We now know that we are a team: if we protect ourselves, then we protect each other; the higher, common good is more important than the individual, since this can no longer be had without the collective.
And then Weselsky trudges along and behind him the GdL train drivers. They strike in the delta wave, organize chaos where preventive order is needed, ensure that there are few overcrowded trains when many trains have to run half full.
Obviously, Weselsky is talking about community spirit; Strikers always do that, and most of the time I wish them luck. A union leader, however, who spits on offers from the other side and in no way negotiates and intoxicates and lustfully paralyzes the railway in the midst of the pandemic, does not act more responsibly than the governor who fills Florida’s hospitals.
I often hear the question of whether things could ever be as delusional and merciless as in Trumps and DeSantis’ America in Germany. I also didn’t think that I would ever answer: Look at Claus Weselsky.