As Americans everywhere prepare to go to the polls, Swedish politician Mathias Sundin - who spent a month this summer working as a volunteer for John McCain - explains why he’s rooting for the Republican candidate.
John McCain’s favourite band is ABBA. Do I, as a Swede, really need to have more of an argument as to why he’s my favourite in the US presidential election?
When I met him in New Hampshire and told him I was from Sweden, he answered, "I love your country!"
When I met Barack Obama he said no such thing.
Are you convinced yet?
OK, then here are a few more reasons why the United States’ next president ought to be named John McCain.
For me as a Swede, the issues which affect Sweden and the rest of the world mean the most to me: free trade, foreign policy, and economic policy. And of course who the candidates are as people is also important.
Free trade has made it possible for hundreds of millions of people to lift themselves out of poverty, and has also benefited western economies like Sweden and the United States. Obviously, it involves increased competition which can result in some people losing their jobs. But if you have a dynamic economy, like America has had for many years, people eventually get new jobs.
Sweden is a small, export dependent country. The world’s largest economies need to continue to support free trade, both for Sweden’s sake and for the sake of the world’s poor. McCain has long been a diehard supporter of free trade, while Barack Obama’s rhetoric, unfortunately, has been strongly against free trade.
McCain also has an idea he calls the “League of Democracies”. It would be a forum for cooperation among the world’s democracies. It could, for example, take action on occasions when the UN isn’t working or can’t fulfill its mission of halting genocides.
The UN’s agenda is often hindered by dictators. The world’s democracies are by no means all saints either, but they do have public opinion to consider and in general democracies act morally more often than dictators.
As a Swede, I think that it’s important that the US not leave Iraq too soon. This is a unique opportunity to build the world’s first democratic Arab country. Withdrawing troops to quickly would put this endeavor at risk. I understand that Americans are tired of the war, but both the United States and the world at large would benefit from a democratic Iraq.
Economic policy is a bit hard to judge. The financial crisis makes it impossible for either candidate to carry out their proposed tax cuts and for Obama’s planned spending increases. But I believe raising taxes on companies at this juncture is wrong. And that is what Obama wants to do.
McCain wants instead to lower corporate taxes, which I believe will help create more jobs. It’s vitally important to get the American economy humming again. A tax cut for the middle class championed by Obama isn’t as generous, and the effects on the economy won’t be as positive as he claims.
When it comes to the budget deficit, both candidates need to do their homework. No one is going to be able to balance the budget with the current proposals; the situation is dire and both candidates ought to make a balanced budget their highest priority.
McCain has proven he is ready to risk both his life and his career for what he believes in. He refused to be released from the torture he received at a prisoner of war camp in Vietnam. As a result, he spent four more years imprisoned.
In the US Senate, he has risked his career several times on issues that have antagonized his own constituents and his own party. He proposed legislation for reducing carbon dioxide emissions with Al Gore’s vice presidential running mate Joe Lieberman. And an immigration law he proposed along with Ted Kennedy almost doomed his presidential bid last year.
His campaign finance reform package, forged with democrat Russ Feingold, enraged a number of Republican organizations, many of which were already upset with him after he referred to television evangelists and over-zealous religious leaders as ”agents of intolerance”.
Throughout his career, McCain has actually done what Obama talks about doing. He has worked across party lines. Being able to do it requires the guts to withstand a thrashing from members of your own party. That is something Obama has never been through.
The United States and the free world needs a leader who is willing to put his country before himself, who sticks to his principles but can also get things done. John McCain is such a leader. And, as I said, he likes ABBA.
Mathias Sundin is a Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) politician in Norrköping. He writes a regular blog about US politics (in Swedish): www.amerikanskpolitik.se.