The Germanist Tanja Reinlein published a dissertation on the letter as a medium of sensitivity in 2003. In it she dedicated herself to letters “especially in their function as literary media,” as the publisher announced. This means viewing letters as media “that open up spaces for self-presentation and thus enable the conceptualization of ego identity in the performative process.”

If you think a little politically, you will probably think of a few names for these terms, even without any deeper knowledge of their literary significance. Who wouldn’t think of Robert Habeck when they were sensitive? Who doesn’t think of Christian Lindner when it comes to self-dramatization? When it comes to first-person identity, who doesn’t think of Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann? And who doesn’t think of Olaf Scholz when it comes to conceptualization, because it’s a word that you don’t immediately understand? And as luck would have it, all four are passionate letter writers.

Never before has a coalition made letters such a literary medium as the traffic light, at least in the sense that letters were not reserved for one addressee, but were always written for the general public. The traffic light did not affect the confidentiality of letters, it ignored it. She cultivated public letter writing in a way that actually seemed like a continuation of Dr. Reinlein demands.

At the 2022 summer press conference, Olaf Scholz was asked about his policymaking authority and its importance. “It’s good that I have it,” replied the Chancellor. “But of course not in the form of me writing a letter to someone: ‘Please, Minister, do the following.'” A few weeks later he did exactly that. With his authority to issue directives, he decreed the remaining term of three in a letter to all ministers involved Nuclear power plants. “Please do the following,” now even in concrete terms. It was a word of power that the Chancellor could have simply said, but which he put in writing because it was supposed to be publicly documented – the mother of all traffic light letters.

Some time later, Christian Lindner used the space for self-dramatization in the performative process when he exchanged letters with Robert Habeck about austerity requirements in February 2023: “I was relieved to hear that the ministries led by the Greens had passed the Basic Law for the Federal Republic “Don’t question Germany,” said Lindner with a twisted smugness that was certainly not just intended to impress his dear colleague. Of course, the letter also found its way to the public via express delivery.

Recently, the chairwoman of the Defense Committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, and Bundestag President Bärbel Bas argued in several letters and with increasing acrimony about why a whopping 105 people took part in a secret meeting of the committee on the Taurus problem. The dispute over the letters became so heated that the Social Democratic MP Joe Weingarten is said to have felt compelled to accuse Strack-Zimmermann of having a “big-voucher” attitude.

It is said that whoever writes stays. That may be true for literary eternity. But does it also apply to the coalition’s first-person identity in the short term?