Kevin Williamson:

Democrats, especially the more self-consciously progressive of them, love the Nordic model of government, or at least what they mistakenly believe to be the Nordic model. (In reality, the Nordic countries have seen a great deal of free-market reform in the past 25 years, and have robust market economies driven by free trade and entrepreneurship abetted by moderate corporate taxes and relatively straightforward regulation.) But American progressives, who are not quite as cosmopolitan as they like to imagine themselves, see only relatively high Nordic income-tax rates and relatively generous Nordic social-insurance programs. What they do not see — and are incapable of appreciating — is the consensus-oriented political culture that sustains the Nordic welfare states. At their worst, Nordic cultures slide into “Jante law,” a cult of conformity, but at their best they ensure that deep and far-reaching public-policy changes are rooted in genuine political consensus, which makes such policies stable. U.S. conservatives, who have been in a radical mood for the past 20 years or so, have to some extent forgotten the virtues of stability, whereas progressives never really understood them to begin with.

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