Despite the garbage that is thrown about in the run-up to Election Day, I love the American presidential race. Cable news channels and their obsession with combing over the minutia of the candidates can be exhausting, but I miss having a front row seat for the madness.
It turns out that Norwegians are well-informed about the elections. Local media provides daily updates and even covers the power battleground states have, including the importance of Ohio. The cover story in popular Norwegian tabloid Dagsavisen (the day's news) on Nov. 3 was about how undecided Ohioans will settle the election for the nation.
I made my decision and sent my absentee ballot weeks ago so my vote has been counted. I tracked it online so there’s no chance of it getting “lost.”
The Dagsavisen cover story sparked my curiosity about how Norwegians felt about the U.S. elections, so I decided to find out the word on the streets of Norway. Here is what I heard:
Karl-Erik, 57, says it’s hard not to be aware of the U.S. elections. Although it isn’t a big topic of discussion among Norwegians, he says it’s all over the newspapers, radio stations and news channels. He thinks Obama should win because Romney is “just a rich guy coming in trying to be at the top of everything.
Being president is the next thing for him, it will look good on his (curriculum vitae).”
Sabina, 19, doesn’t know when Election Day is but she is passionate about Obama because Romney proposes a strict kind of leadership. “I will be worried for the world if Romney wins,” says Sabina. Why? “Because he doesn’t stand for freedom and other Obama-ish things.” English is not her first language and she struggled to find the right words to further describe Romney.
Linn, 26, hasn’t been following the elections closely but knows that the big day is looming. She has faith that Americans will make the right choice, which she thinks is re-electing Obama. “He’s had a tough time these four years but he’s the one who knows how to fix the economy,” she says. “He needs time to continue what he started.” Linn says the presidential election is a subject that comes up often with her friends but they choose not to discuss it with Americans who are voting for Romney. “It’s not the right thing to talk about with them.”
Bjørn, 28, says, “Romney is a liar who can’t do what he says he can do.” Bjørn says the first thing he’ll do on Nov. 6 is find out who won. He wants Obama to win because he has been successful in creating jobs and a new health care plan. Bjørn couldn’t pinpoint what gives him such a negative impression of Romney, but he was sure Obama could fix America’s problems.
Tone, 24, doesn’t know when the elections are and only discussed them enough to say to her boyfriend that the topic is everywhere in the news yet she hasn’t been following. Tone wants Obama to win. “Norwegians love him because he’s pretty cool and sounds great when he speaks.” She didn’t know the name of “that other guy.”
Petter, 55, is skeptical that Americans will make the right choice, which he thinks is to re-elect Obama. His reason for choosing the president is plain and simple: Romney is too old. As for the election process, Petter thinks it’s ridiculous that Americans “keep getting back to issues that (Norwegians) stopped talking about 20 years ago, like homosexuality, evolution, abortion.” He says these things don’t matter when it comes to choosing a president and that where the law stands on those issues should have been resolved already.
I sensed some apathy about the elections among the small selection of locals I spoke to. As an American I like to think that my country is so big and so wonderful that everyone should care, but perhaps Norwegians don’t need to be as vigorous with their interest because they are isolated from some of the ways the U.S. affects the world.
CONTACT SALEHA MOHSIN: firstname.lastname@example.org