Linus Aldefors is not eligible to vote in this country and doesn’t even live here. He has, however, been a fan of Barack Obama since the Democrat’s run for the U.S. Senate in 2004. But how many American fans of foreign leaders do you know who would be willing to commit the time and resources required to travel overseas to help get them elected? Yet that’s exactly what Linus has done, taking what Europeans would call a “mini-break” from his final semester at Lundt University, where he’s studying international economics, to help get out the vote for Obama.
Sweden is famously a neutral nation: A friend of everybody and nobody at the same time, as Linus explains. But apparently its countrymen are mad about Obama. “They understand that this isn’t just another [politician] doing his own thing, not listening to the rest of the world. Obama seems to be someone who listens to other people before making a decision, weighing options and then doing the best thing. He’s not like Republicans shooting from the hip and hoping to hit something. Swedes are really fired up about the whole campaign,” Linus says.
He believes that a President Obama would not only restore this country’s standing on the global stage but would also present an America that the rest of the world can be friends with. Since his arrival on US shores last Thursday, Linus has traveled to Indiana to canvass voters and has also worked the phone banks. Participating in America’s electoral politics has been a revelatory experience.
“The process is so much bigger, with so many more people involved and money flooding into the campaign,” says Linus, marveling at the expenditures of people, time and resources, from television advertisements to volunteers willing to drive from Chicago to Cleveland, Toledo, Indianapolis “and all over” just to get people out to vote.
“That’s something you’d never see in Sweden. And Obama can gather 50,000 people at rallies easily, but if [our] prime minister went out to a town hall meeting, maybe 200 people, at the most, would show up and probably fewer than that. This has been like Christmas Eve for me!
Joyce Jones is reporting from Chicago for BlackEnterprise.com.