Today is Election day! The United States Presidential Election, that is. So many thoughts, and so little power. I hope all the people out there, with the ability to vote, will do their democratic duty and cast their vote today. Regardless of political conviction, it is better to have a conviction than not to care at all.
In January 1999, I started a chapter of my life, which would come to dominate majority of my formative years. I joined a political party and became politically involved. Over the next four years, my heart, mind and soul would be occupied by ideology, philosophy, debates and political campaigns. This all took place in Sweden, and without explaining the political heritage of Sweden in details, it is enough to know that Sweden is firmly rooted in social democracy. But I was not. The party I represented was the Moderate Party, and I labelled myself a libertarian. I detested taxes, demanded a smaller government and valued the individual before the masses. Ayn Rand was my hero and many of my friends back then would have been proud members of the Tea Party today.
As any idealistic, passionate young person, I pursued politics with unfazed conviction and I set out to change the world for the better. The reason why I left my political engagements in Sweden was to move to England to study International Studies with Political Science. I fought my way through three years of constant battles which at times turned ugly enough for a professor to tell me flat out that I deserved to die.
What was I fighting for? If you would boil it down, I was fighting for freedom. Freedom for each individual to make the decisions they want, about their own lives.
When it was decided my husband and I were moving to the US, one of my biggest curiosities was to see and feel how it would be to live in a nation, sharing Sweden's feelings about democracy, but in all other respects, its polar opposite. As a young political activist, my friends and I had always held the US very high. It was as close to the ideal as any currently existing country. We would follow every US presidential election and we would always hope for the Republicans to win, cause we didn't like taxes either.
Little did I know how much I was about to change.
Don't get me wrong. Philosophically, I'm still a libertarian. But does that make me a republican? Hardly! I still think taxes in Sweden are too high, but does it mean that the mere existence of taxes is wrong? Was taxes even the issue that got me politically involved? Absolutely not! My first public debate was about same-sex couples right to be approved as adoptive parents.
In the end of the day, freedom is still something worth fighting for. My political background in Sweden was mostly about financial freedom, because we had very little. The only reason why it took president over social freedoms was because Sweden is one of the most socially free countries in the world. But moving to the US has made me re-discover where my heart is actually at. You can give me as much financial freedom as you want, but as long as I'm not free to decide over my own body or who I want to marry, it would not be worth much. I will always choose social freedom before financial freedom.
It is with part anticipation and part dread I will follow this Presidential Election. The power is in the hands of Americans, I can only stand by and watch. Unlike my younger self, I'm hoping to see less finance and more humanity.