Which most liberals fail to see

Why Liberal?

The competition of political parties does not only live from the right argument, also not from the knowledge of facts or competence. Often much more important is the shaping of terms, images, the sensation, the impression, the effect and, in quite a few cases, the self-presentation.

One party will answer the questions for everyday business in many areas that have to be answered in order to be able to explain social policy, educational policy, environmental policy, economic policy and foreign policy to interested fellow citizens in a technical and objective manner. However, all of this is subject to a certain degree of material fatigue and also has expiry dates. What and how should citizens think of us, what are we aiming at, what society do we want to live in, these questions need to be answered. When asked about the crucial importance of the Basic Law, Theodor Heuss replied that it was to be found in the reconciliation of the German political elite with the parliamentary system of the West. It is based in and out of a deep experience of the Weimar Republic, in which a German society was unwilling and unable to save the first German democracy from failure and finally succumbed to the temptations of bondage. What is knowledge, what is justice? How can one prevent authority from turning into totalitarianism, how can one even recognize totalitarian tendencies in good time? Because people who always admire authorities become frighteningly helpless when authorities become authoritarian, especially in Germany.

The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, which was significantly shaped by Free Democrats, was, after the great deviation from the path of civilization, the expression of self-assurance and the search for new recognition in the world. This time civil and humane and not aggressive and imperial.

There is the necessary strength-giving identity that every society needs. It expects the citizen and not the state customer. At the beginning it standardized the inalienable rights that are connected with human dignity in an unchanged catalog of fundamental rights.

It laid the foundations for a free society, which, as Joachim Fest described, must be based not least on a number of requirements and a system of precautions that, strictly speaking, are directed against human nature in one or the other case. Its rules and norms, its limits, require care in dealing with freedom. Even a majority is not allowed to do everything. I am the people, my will be done is totalitarian.

The Basic Law has a sense that democracy is fragile and that tolerance must not be confused with indifference. It secures civilizational stocks that may not be exposed to the entertainment business. It has proven itself, it has prevailed, incidentally also through a clever jurisprudence of the Federal Constitutional Court, which has placed it at the head of the third power.

There was a wise constitution and wording for all of this, which subsequently developed in the history of our country, which was then finally united. For the necessary integration in Europe, for cooperation in the Transatlantic Alliance, for the contracts with our Central and Eastern European neighbors. It was also armed against the attempt to overstretch freedom in the name of freedom, which at a certain stage plagued the Federal Republic.

It has always kept reunification open foresight. Walter Scheel's letter on German unity as part of the Moscow Treaty showed that this was not just lip service. The Basic Law always issued an invitation to eighteen million Germans and they finally accepted the invitation with the impression of the wall from the east and with a first successful peaceful revolution in Germany. The Basic Law was not imposed on anyone, it was the hand that was always outstretched. The Basic Law remains what it was and what it is: a stable and convincing compass for a free society. After two lost world wars. After driving out their own elites, after losing a third of their own territory, after so many attempts to ruin themselves. It's the best we have. A little more joy about what we have achieved, says the great historian Fritz Stern, would do us good.

The FDP should follow this suggestion. It is important for maintaining your own brand because there are too many short thinkers. The FDP is the only party in Germany that has unreservedly stood for the decisive success factors of our country and has helped to determine them. When the SPD was still titling Adenauer as Chancellor of the Allies, the FDP opted for ties to the West. She decided to join NATO.

The FDP was the only party that fully supported Ludwig Erhard in his market economy policy. It was not the CDU / CSU and certainly not the SPD that supported the path to a social market economy as convincingly as they did. When the Federal Republic of Germany got a bit sleepy in the sixties, it changed the political landscape - and this is the lasting merit of Ralf Dahrendorf - with the civil right to education and a clear will for change and innovation and a new Germany policy using our own existence .

The Brand / Scheel coalition then negotiated the contracts with our eastern neighbors under severe criticism from the CDU / CSU. A solid foothold in the West, a free constitution, but good neighbors - that was the FDP's program. When the SPD finally refused to follow Helmut Schmidt in the budget consolidation, the FDP did the same with the CDU / CSU and secured stable finances, which enabled us to act financially when our country was unified.

At the end of a long process of drilling thick boards, there was the 2 + 4 contract. Negotiated in 392 days, a political and diplomatic masterpiece. The once Soviet soldiers withdrew without a shot being fired. Considered since the party congress of the FDP in Hanover in 1967, completed by Hans-Dietrich Genscher, started with Hans Wolfgang Rubin and Wolfgang Mischnick, both chairmen of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. The small, often scolded FDP helped to overcome taboo areas with crucial challenges in the post-war history of German politics and German society, said Walter Scheel in his remarkable speech on the occasion of the vote of no confidence in the then Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt, with which the CDU / CSU are preventing precisely that wanted what was just necessary: ​​building trust - also to the east - without which reunification would not have been possible.

Freedom brings problems. But they can only be solved in freedom. Liberalism is not a party manifesto, but an attitude that knows that democracy is fragile and that life since being driven from paradise has been a strain. Liberals have to face unconditional cultures, resist the supposedly simple, understand complexity, strive for a self-determined lifestyle, combine modesty with self-confidence and be able to persevere in the face of challenges. You always have to listen to people. But you can also tell them what they simply need to know. You have to be convincing yourself. “You have to say what you think too. And they have to do what they say and then they have to be what they do ”(Herrhausen).

It's about argumentative quality and a recognizable attitude.

Not everyone can be the best. But everyone has to be and everyone has to do their best.

There is still room for improvement.