As you may have heard this week, the country of Sweden just launched a new hotline—call it: 011 46 771 793 336—that connects callers with one of their citizens to talk about anything. Is that person’s opinion representative of the entire country? No, of course not. But the beauty of this service is that you’re having an exchange with a random person halfway around the world, just as you would while traveling. It’s an opportunity to meet a local for the cost of an international calling fee.
I decided to dial in today and ask a random Swede about the uh, interesting, American presidential election. The goal was not to debate or argue, just to listen and gain a sample-of-one foreign perspective on what the hell is going on over here. Meet Peter, a 30-year-old consultant from Malmö (who let’s just say is very much feeling the Bern).
[You are calling Sweden. You will soon be connected to a random Swede in Sweden.]
Hello! I am Peter. It is nice to meet you.
Andrew here. Where are you calling from?
Yes! I live in Malmö.
So, I’m curious what your thoughts are on the American election.
[laughs] Oh my god, yes. I have lots of thoughts. I actually follow this very closely, so it’s a very good question for me. Anyways, I’m a Bernie Sanders supporter.
[laughs] Of course, I am. I’m Swedish. I mean, yeah. It’s not that difficult. The things that are most important, in my view, to a successful government are free healthcare and free education, which I think are two of his main platforms. Then there’s Wall Street. Do you know Saab?
Well, when it got really bad, we let it go, let it go bankrupt. We didn’t give a shit in Sweden. We have nine million inhabitants. We’re about the size of New York City in terms of population. You can’t just keep stuffing money into a thing like that. Ericsson, a big mobile company. Sony bought them. Last year, they laid off 1,000 of 2,000 employees. But the thing is, when we let them do that, you get an uprising of new companies. They make new inventions, items, services. When Americans bailed out their auto companies . . . well, perhaps you shouldn’t do that all the time.
Bernie has referenced Scandinavia in various speeches and debates. Has that received much attention there?
No. The Swedish National papers overall are very pro Hillary. People who understand that and also people who are young—they research and seek out a variety of sources beyond the big newspapers, sites like The Young Turks. But the big newspapers here are owned by big companies with an agenda.
How do you feel about Hillary Clinton?
I think she’s bought. When she first announced she was running, I thought she was amazing. But I’m pragmatic. When Bernie signed on, I wanted to study these two people and have an informed opinion. In 2013, she was against gay marriage. Now she’s all for that. She was against gun regulation when she ran against Obama. And now she’s for it, to attack Bernie. The wind moves in that direction, she changes. But Bernie Sanders. The guy was against the Iraq War, the Panama Deal! You have forty years of research on his record and it’s consistent. I wish we had a guy like him here.
What do you think of Donald Trump?
I don’t want to use a curse but—Fuck that! He has an idea of himself that is intolerable. We actually have that kind of politician in Sweden. A whole party. Check out the Swedish Democrats, our third largest. They’re against immigration. They’re blaming Muslims and Islam for, yeah, all the stuff that is happening. I think one million of nine million in Sweden are first, second, or third generation refugees. I believe five percent of those are Muslim. Still though, the Swedish Democrats are saying that they are taking over the country. I can understand that people like him because he is not establishment though.
His radical Christian thing? I get that they don’t want to betray their true faith. The answer to that though isn’t military power. We are all human beings. I don’t care if you believe in Christianiaty, Buddhism, Islam, whatever. We’re still human beings. We need to educate—and elevate—people. The true path forward is understanding, accepting, and respecting our brothers and sisters out there on the one Earth we have. Not “carpet-bombing” Syria, as he has said. If Cruz or Trump would have their finger on the button—Dayum. I would not like that.
So can I ask why you agreed to give your time to talk to people like me?
I just downloaded the app today. I was hoping to talk to Americans actually, to have conversations like this. Earlier, I talked to a Republican in Georgia who thought socialism equaled communism. Unfortunately, his primary has passed.