The right-wing Alternative for Germany party is now polling at a righteous 15% (g) making it the third-largest party in Germany. And a recent polls shows why: even though most Germans don't think the AfD has any real answers to Germany's political problems, half of Germans approve of the tendency of AfD politicians to 'tell it like it is'.
This is something I've been pointing to for months now: the tendency of functionaries from the mainstream German political parties to muffle controversial subjects in layers of gutless waffle irritates many voters.
- When people see Arab clans staging massive, bloody brawls on the streets of German cities, they hear politicians speak of 'neighborhoods where the challenges of integration are particularly difficult'.
- When they read of women being stripped, robbed, beaten and/or gang-raped, they hear politicians speak of 'deeply tragic isolated incidents of severe misconduct which the justice system must take seriously'.
- When they think to themselves that any migrant who commits a serious crime in Germany should be deported by force to wherever they came from within days, they hear baffling, condescending lectures about 'the constitutional right to an individual determination of asylum status during which only crimes above a certain level of intensity can be taken into account...etc. etc.'
- When they hear of foreigners groping children's genitals while masturbating in public baths, they hear of 'persons being investigated for improper touching' and the ever-present warning not to 'overgeneralize on the basis of one case'. As if the politician were more concerned about the potential reaction of his fellow citizens than the fact that a child was molested.
A chunk of the electorate -- 50% in Germany now -- becomes convinced that politicians either don't know or don't care about reality. And feel an instinctive affinity for any politician who actually uses straightforward, plain, active sentences to describe what he or she sees. They don't necessarily know about or even care about the party's policies -- they just finally hear someone in a position of responsibility using the sort of language normal humans do.
Over to Orwell:
Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, ‘I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so’. Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:
‘While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.’
The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.
Now of course this preference is selective: the AfD is currently riding high on the preferences of certain voters to hear blunt talk about immigration, not about other subjects. But the tragic flaw or genius of democracy, depending on your viewpoint, is that voters get to decide what's important to them.
This is hardly just an issue of diction. Donald Trump is now the Republican nominee in the US, and one main reason why is his blunt talk. The AfD has now permanently changed the German political landscape for the same reason. Something which starts out as a matter of tone can quickly change how countries are governed. Only people who've never read Orwell should be surprised by this.