Berlin votes


I just cast my vote in the Berlin state elections (Wikipedia de/en). No worries, I’m not going to go into politics here. And yet, I think there is something to elections, particularly those on state and local level.

I have an almost romantic notion of these elections. Not so much because I think the act of casting the vote in person is a particularly symbolic thing to do; it might be, who knows. No, it’s more because of the nature of the voting process that might just be the most unsexy of all elections.

The ballot boxes are placed in public schools, or nursery homes, or community centers. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with these places, it makes the process – or rather the setting, atmosphere – almost gorgeously unglamorous, fantastically functional.

It’s not that the volunteers on the ground run the show unprofessionally – far from it! It is the complete lack of polish that stands out. No show, no ads, no speeches. Nothing overly patriotic either. Just a few tables, makeshift stands to make your crosses on the ballot out of sight (to speak of privacy would be euphemistic). On some wall or closet or shelf, some flags are attached: Germany, Berlin, Europe. Even the flags look comfortingly small and unglamorous.

Elections on state level are tricky. While very important, they tend to be somewhat low-interest. If you polled folks about any party’s concrete positions on any issue, I’m fairly certain the answers would be based on the national party positions rather than state level, if anything at all. As someone who was involved in political campaigns before, this pains me, yet I’m not immune to it either; far from it, in fact.

And yet. When I got to the local church community center, in shorts and t-shirt as I was on my way to a run, there was a line there. There was a nun, a young dad with his daughter, several people who looked as if they might have come straight out of a club, an old man in a leather jacket and many others. They all stood there in line, paying little attention to the churchy advertisements in the hallway that smelled slightly of canteen food. They all went there, on a rainy Sunday, despite the alleged lack of interest in politics, and cast their votes.

There is something to that.

Being the politics geek that I am, I’ll watch an episode of The West Wing before the first election results will be published from 18h onwards. Plenty of glamor there.

ps. A shout-out: Anna-Lena will provide some waffle-based visualizations of the results at Wahlwaffeln.tumblr.com

Super endorsements: Comic characters for Obama


Somewhat odd, but here you go: Comic character Savage Dragon endorses Obama, or so says the New York TimesThe Moment blog:

The celebrity endorsements have begun! Savage Dragon, a superhero and police officer whose adventures are published by Image Comics, is throwing his hat in the ring for Barack Obama. The news is blared across the cover of issue No. 137, with the green-skinned hero dressed up for the occasion in a black jacket, crisp white shirt and striped red tie.

Savage Dragon endorses Obama, img courtesy NYTimes / Copyright Erik Larsen Image: Copyright Erik Larsen

Do you know examples of other comic characters endorsing presidential candidates? Please share in the comments…

Please note: While I’m writing this, the Image Comics website website seems to be down and on the Savage Dragon site I couldn’t find a hint to any of this; however, I have no reason not to trust the NYTimes on this one.

Obama’s Election Campaign: It’s The Social Media, Stupid!


The U.S. elections have been an interesting spiel of old vs new, of traditional vs social media. While Republican Senator McCain and Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton have put their money on traditional media (think Clinton’s “phone in the middle of the night” TV spot and its, shall we say: mixed success), Obama’s campaign strategists have been a lot smarter.

One of Clinton’s old-school TV spots, (not too successfully) pushing her message:


The Obama campaign has been a lot better at harnessing the power of the web. Also, they clearly have a better understanding of how to address the web community. Example? While both Clinton and Obama are on Twitter (Clinton: 1, 2; Obama), only Obama (as Leo Laporte pointed out in Net@Nite) followed people back from the beginning. It’s this engagement on eye level that really makes a difference in social media.

BarackTV’s Your Story: Engaging the voters, (successfully) asking for grassroots support:


And the engagement paid off for Obama. Says PoliticsOnline:

Senator Obama surpassed an ‘old school’ campaign, changing and breaking the rules of the Washington game. He has taken a quantum leap from the stale websites of past politicians, going on to raise millions of dollars through small donations from millions of people and creating a network of diehard volunteers. While ensnared in one of the most cut-throat political campaign races in history, Sen. Obama’s online campaign helped to diminished the quantitative significance of the million mark; whether it was millions of supporters, millions of YouTube video views, or millions of online donations. Raking in over $265 million is as worthy of historical prose as being an African American with the name Barack Hussein Obama.

The whole micro-donations issue has been on the table since the 2004 U.S. election campaigns. It’s really hard to imagine why the more conservative elements in both parties haven’t picked up on this. Anyway, it should be interesting to see how it all plays out, and which aspects are going to be part of the next German elections…