Munich How lonely does politics make you? This question arises immediately after reading Peter Tauber. About the wrestling of the former CDU general secretary with the structures of a party, with the polls, the expectations, the target times of the marathon, the late-evening pizza eating attacks and finally with his own body.
Only when his life is in danger does Tauber give a damn about the “Morgenmagazin” TV interview the next morning. All Saints’ Day, he dials the emergency number and is hospitalized at two-thirty in the night because of his bowel inflammation.
It is the beginning of a month-long struggle for life and death, with twelve days of intensive care and rehab. And with a prompt comeback in March 2018 as Parliamentary State Secretary in the Ministry of Defense.
While working on the book, he realized once again “how important cooperation with other people is”, Tauber reports: “You reach your goal that way faster. I didn’t allow myself this picture before. Rather, you had to constantly prove and expect something yourself. Perhaps out of false pride, people think they have to do everything alone. “
But that’s mostly how politics works. The loneliness of the long-distance runner. Who keeps telling himself: “I’m needed.”
With a mixture of self-knowledge, confession and repentance, the 45-year-old Christian Democrat delivers an opus that falls completely out of the series of usual politician publications. It’s an anti-hero book. “My long run to myself” could also be written above it.
His publisher noticed him when he spoke about his fate on Markus Lanz’s ZDF talk show, says Tauber. The politician was then convinced in long conversations that the publisher did not want anything sensational, but rather something encouraging for people with breaks in life. For readers who are afraid of failure.
What an enrichment. This genre is teeming with memoirs in the preferred historical light, from Gerhard Schröder to Theo Waigel. This is often only insightful if – as in the case of Helmut Kohl – the ghostwriter unpacks once, contrary to the contract, how blasphemous the hero of the story actually thought of his contemporaries.
On the other hand, this literary genre is crammed full of debate books, which usually fail because the author wants to set the agenda, out of consideration for his greatest enemy, the party friend, but smooths out everything striking. In the end, there is often only a little gravitas, political marketing and a print run of a few thousand copies.
Always carry on, just don’t attract attention through weakness, stay present in the media, that almost cost the CSU politician Horst Seehofer’s life in January 2002. He was hospitalized with life-threatening myocarditis, a heart disease. Seehofer later confessed that he was treated too late because of his workload. Since then, he has believed that he saw through the junkie nature of political life and that he had addiction under control.
The longtime “Spiegel” reporter Jürgen Leinemann (1937–2013) dissected such cases of extreme addictions 16 years ago in his impressive book “Höhenrausch”. It describes a culture of lust for power, in which one is most important to oneself and only interested in others, whether they are useful or harmful. Leinemann quotes the former Prime Minister of Hesse, Holger Börner, as saying that a lack of knowledge of human nature is one of the most important prerequisites for leadership in politics.
Leinemann describes with the necessary sharpness how politics kills everything that fulfills a normal life: family, love affairs, friends, art, literature, hobbies. Everything revolves around politics – “which the politician at some point confuses with reality, as well as himself with his public role”. There is no better way to put it.
Peter Tauber has not read the Leinemann book, but is familiar with its addiction theses. You also precisely describe his dilemma as Secretary General. He lived with armor and always had to come to a head, because if you put it too softly, nobody hears you.
When he was constantly tweeting, for example, in a dispute about labor market policy, he came up with the more than questionable sentence, that someone who has “learned something decent” does not need mini jobs. But the devout Protestant Tauber is in truth a seeker, not a Polterer. He has long considered the mini-job replica – made in anger at night on the way to bed – to be a mistake.
As general secretary, party leader Angela Merkel brought the former Hessian chairman of the Junge Union in the 2013 federal election campaign because she hoped for peace and quiet to the right of the center of the CDU. After all, the MP from Gelnhausen was a pupil of Alfred Dregger, the icon of the Conservatives. “Peter, you do it!” Or “All right, then he’ll do it” – that was how Tauber got his office.
If you have learned something properly, you don’t need three mini jobs.
– Peter Tauber (@petertauber) July 3, 2017
But in the general office, the newcomer wanted to make his party “younger, more feminine, more colorful”, defended the refugee policy and brought the digital age into the CDU, which was previously very dusty in terms of internet technology. Such a role as a “disruptor” makes you even more lonely. Some thought his moderating style was good, the others cautioned: “We need secretaries-general like Geißler or Biedenkopf again.”
He was “not sensitive enough”, judges Tauber today, and hurt some in the party who no longer felt valued. Old party members asked themselves: “He only talks about those he wants to get. Are we no longer good enough? “
But fail? Something like that is taboo in Berlin’s “Spreebogen”. Here you work, even under the greatest tension. Just no loss of control. Little sleep, irregular eating, appointments across the country, friends and family are far away. You compensate with alcohol and drugs. “I have a job that has to be fulfilled,” Peter Tauber kept saying to himself.
Mr. Tauber, were you an addict?
“In politics you can get addicted to attention, to awareness. This ‘having to happen’ and the resulting pressure were certainly also a reason for my health problems. Due to my illness and rehab, I had initially gained a certain distance from this. At first, for example, I didn’t want to talk to journalists at all, even though the media are important intermediaries in society. Today I say to myself: You don’t have to suggest your own importance that may not even exist. “
In politics one can become addicted to attention, to perception. Peter Tauber (Former Secretary General of the CDU)
What was mainly lost in the life crisis?
“If you always have to be compulsive in public, it eats up so much time that is then missing for human relationships. Politics leaves almost no room for private contacts or friendships. You have to take the time necessary for this. But you can also make friends in politics. “
New book already being planned
Today Tauber says he is at peace with himself: “I really enjoy being a member of parliament for my homeland. There is no pressure to follow any agenda and make a career. Above all, I’m happy to have recovered. ”The Secretary of State for Defense and Captain of the Reserve now keeps Sunday free, eats more healthily, demands more respect in politics and speaks openly about doubts and weaknesses. His Christian faith has been reactivated.
Many people who went through crises had recently spoken to him enthusiastically, reports the Christian Democrat. His book is “not a political manifesto or a political retrospective, but a reflection on the topic of cohesion”. Contrary to some assertions, the openness of the book makes him feel “less vulnerable, on the contrary – especially because I write about things that I didn’t excel at”.
His learning: “If you don’t take care of yourself, how do you want to take care of others?” The only male role model he can think of is “Wickie the Viking”, the children’s book and cartoon character. Wickie is very scared, solves problems with good ideas and with the help of the whole Viking gang.
The historian, who has a doctorate, is currently talking about this on reading trips, including to the CDU headquarters in Berlin. His “You don’t have to be a hero” book offers rare, honest insights into a brutal apparatus of power. The next Tauber factory is already being planned: the question is whether the old Prussians didn’t have much more to say to us than we think. After all, they have, for example, pursued a targeted immigration policy and introduced the debt brake.
Because of “Pickelhaube”. For the author, Prussian virtues go back to Christian cardinal virtues.
The man struggling with death continues his politics by other means. He writes that he has found peace and serenity, consciously living in the moment and being more empathetic. Peter Tauber is no longer lonely.
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