Summary of “The United States could have Nordic-style welfare programs, too”

Left-leaning Americans should be thrilled that a new subgenre of political commentary has emerged aimed at explaining why the United States simply can’t brook Nordic-style welfare programs.
The reasons adduced to argue that the United States has no hope of establishing programs like the ones enjoyed by Europe’s social democracies are more disturbing than commonly credited.
In a 2014 Slate essay calling for an end to the United States’ Nordic fantasies, Emily Tamkin cited the “Homogeneity of the Nordic countries, on which, one could argue, their stability and equality hinges.” This would prove to be a running theme.
The United States is a liberal democracy, and a unique one at that: While many of Europe’s liberal democracies were formed with a distinctive nationalist bent – that is, as nation-states, or countries composed primarily of single, self-governing ethnic groups – the United States was never any such thing.
Romantic nationalists argued that a country built on a contract – the theoretical premise that one can be an American as long as it’s in his or her best interest, and no longer if it isn’t – simply couldn’t be as successful as states united by language, tradition, an intrinsic sense of shared destiny, and so on.
On the above view, the United States was always doomed to merely marginal achievements where justice, equality and freedom are concerned.
This is where the thinking of romantic nationalists dovetails with today’s Scandi-skeptics: If the United States has a poverty rate about triple that of Denmark, or a child poverty rate about eight times higher, or millions more lacking access to health insurance, each camp would propose, it’s at least partially due to the kind of country we are.
The United States might have to chart a different political and sociocultural path to the universal programs Scandinavians enjoy, but if some zeal for justice and equality is there, I’m not sure why we can’t aspire to cultivate more.

The orginal article.