Before the internet came along, there were four basic ways of reviewing something and having an opinion of that review. You could send a letter to your newspaper and hope that they'd publish the letter (it doesn't matter if we talk US or German culture).....newspapers were an outlet where you could express yourself.
The second method was a public setting like a beer-garden or pub. You'd bring up some topic and some folks would listen to you. Some young fellow with a mustache down in Munich in the 1920s found the beer-garden setting to be an excellent situation to express his flavor for socialism and change needed by society.
The third method? This is the method of the news media or chat forums where some moderator would allow you to sit and among a group....you would lay out your complaints or troubled feelings over some public policy or perception of a government failure. Naturally, the moderator was there to help move the discussion along, or to hinder you if you really got things heated up in the discussion.
In the case of the newspaper or the news media.....moderation is the key to their success or failure. They might like to say that public speech is possible....but it's more or less a faulty part of our society to suggest this exists.....it's a fraudulent gimmick and they must keep you within their boundaries.
For Germany....the internet and social media opened up this vast door and allowed the public to walk past newspaper, the news media, and event the beer-garden setting. As much as the intellectual folks in Germany like to claim they are in the right and want to label the opposition as xenophobic or anti-foreigner.....these labels and mass use of the news media as 'cheer-leaders'.....becomes an anchor and limits any movement on a serious topic. The people in the middle of the spectrum just aren't prepared to assume the intellectuals, political players or journalists are infallible anymore. Skeptical views are abundant now in German society.
Sadly, as the government has taken up this immigration and refugee issue months ago....no one stood there to ask about consequences or limiting this to a certain pace. It's like you suddenly woke up in the fall of 2014 in Germany, and noticed that no one in Berlin seemed to have any idea of what was going on, and didn't really seem capable of understanding local perceptions of the growing asylum situation.
The only reaction by mid-summer 2015 was to use the news media and put out a message. Oddly, it just didn't come across as a reliable message and somewhere between thirty and forty percent of German society were skeptical of the message or where this was leading onto.
Even today....when you ask about what this will cost and how it will be paid out to each community/village/city...the answer is not all that acceptable by the actual city money-managers. City administrations are doing what they are ordered to do.....but they kinda wonder how this will be limited.
This idea of getting other EU members to accept people....who may not even want to immigrate into Finland, Ireland, or Poland? It's hard for any journalist do a two-minute talk about this, and convince the German guy sitting in front of his TV and sipping a beer that this will all end peacefully or in a professional way.
Tossing xenophobic or racist labels on people who perceive this all as a failed policy? Basically.....you leave only one method....the fourth method that I mentioned at the beginning of this essay.
Yeah, you get a bunch of people all disturbed, angry and frustrated that they seem to be labeled in some fashion xenophobic or given some negative label. So, they use the method that has been around for two thousand-odd years.....they exercise the vote that they have and send people that will represent their state of mind.
The journalists and intellectual crowd may have the news media at their beckon call.....but if things go into the fourth method....you can't really do that much to hinder a vote. Let's face historical fact....thirty-seven percent is really the fear point because if you create a really big mess, that's the historical point where you need to worry about consequences.