The Swedes Have It

A very interesting blog post by Swedish archeologist, skeptic and father of two, Dr. Martin Rundquist about American politics. A direct (and correct in my opinion) European perspective on our aged and ineffective two-party system.

"This is the first time that I'm aware of the US primary elections. I've never been very interested in the news, having at best a hazy idea even of Swedish politics. Blogging is entirely responsible for my heightened awareness of US political matters over the past two to three years. I've taken to reading US blogs and hanging out in web forums dominated by Americans. And what I've learned scares me.

US politics often look absurd from a European perspective, since the entire bipartisan system maps onto the conservative half of European politics. A case in point is that the US "Left" is called "the liberals", while the Liberal Party in Sweden is part of the Right wing. How could it be otherwise? Liberalism is about free-market capitalism, small government, low taxes, all Right-wing ideals. Yes, both US parties advocate low taxes. Normal taxes are 30% to a Swede. And that's rock bottom, before adding the effect of progressive taxation. That's how we can afford universal health care. Hint, hint.

So, believe me, US politics don't have a Left. Looking at the presidential candidates, I am frankly appalled. None of them would be a viable politician in Sweden. They all support the death penalty, none advocates strict gun control and all make frequent mention of their religious beliefs in public. These are extremist stances. Not even the tiny Christian Democrat party mentions God publicly in Sweden, for fear of alienating the pragmatic rationalist majority.

From a European perspective, US politics are an ongoing battle between the extreme Right and the middle Right. The Republican presidential candidates are really, really scary people in my view. So all of us in the world at large who live under the shadow of US political hegemony are holding our breaths, hoping that Clinton or Obama will make it into office. They're pretty bad, but the alternative would be unspeakably dreadful."

Dr. Rundquist has a fantastic science blog called "Aardvarcheology" here


Morgan said…
I found this quote particularly interesting:

"Not even the tiny Christian Democrat party mentions God publicly in Sweden, for fear of alienating the pragmatic rationalist majority."

Politicians in any country are afraid to alienate the majority, and the majority in America at this time seems to place high value religion. So Barak Obama is just smartly appealing to the majority in hopes of getting elected.
christie said…
A friend of a friend who lives outside the country overheard two Brits discussing American politics. About Obama, "What? Are they going to elect another guy who doesn't know what he's doing?"

Given the Obama love fest currently taking place, I was surprised to hear this.