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In recent weeks, bizarre political controversies have dominated the American and German media.Germans have been responding to an essay published by German Deputy Finance Minister Jens Spahn, in which he complains that English-speaking hipsters in Berlin are eroding German national identity.These debates shed light on how history and national identity inform each country's politics. As a 30-something, gay member of the Berlin political class, Spahn may seem like an odd mouthpiece for an attack on cosmopolitanism.Spahn is determined to keep older, conservative, religiously inclined voters from abandoning the CDU for the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD). As a possible successor to Merkel, his decision to attack cosmopolitanism during the election campaign reveals a lot about what he foresees in German politics. Rather than seeing Germany's moderate parties as pioneers of a cosmopolitan future, Spahn seems to regard his country's failure to embrace identity politics as strangely out of touch.Spahn's apparent bet that Trump-style politics will take hold in Germany is risky, given the extent to which Berlin, of all places, has witnessed the tragedies of identity politics.Still, Spahn's suspicions about the future of German politics are worrying.
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