Intern’s View: Progressivism as a norm
My name is Elin and I am an intern here at the Long Island Progressive Coalition. I was born and raised in in Norway, but decided to move to the United States for my undergraduate degree two years ago and I am currently a senior in international studies at LIU Post. The internship at the Long Island Progressive Coalition interested me because I wanted to learn more about local politics and develop an understanding of Long Island communities. Moving here has been life changing in several ways. I have learned a lot about political theories from my studies and I have learned a lot about how politics affect individuals from the people I have met.
It is nearly impossible for me to not make comparisons about the vastly different life I have in Norway and the one I have here on Long Island. While Norwegians value minimal differences and maximum welfare aid, most Americans seem to value just the opposite. When talking to Americans about what it’s like to live in a social democratic country they repeatedly ask about taxes, and sure, in Norway there is a higher tax level, but one way of looking at it is as a long-term investment in our well-being. We pay taxes to ensure benefits for ourselves and for others who might be worse off, we recognize the possibility of one day being in a less fortunate position ourselves, and the necessity of having a safety net. A variety of rankings demonstrate that Norwegians are capable of being happy and prosperous despite a higher tax level and government intervention. Norway is one of the wealthiest countries in the world with a very high standard of living, have one of the most functioning and stable governments in the world, high hourly wage, high level of equality and low unemployment. I believe that Norway is one of the best countries to live in because of what Americans would call progressive policies, but what we consider to be political and social norms. Our comprehensive welfare system provides us with among other things free universal health care and a free quality education. We fundamentally resent gross social inequality.
The level of inequality, distrust among people, and the necessity to put up borders to clearly mark social standing here on Long Island is shocking to me. I don’t understand the purpose of gated communities or how it is acceptable to let someone live in a bad school district that will likely lead to a worse education. I absolutely support what the LIPC stand for and the issues they work on. My wish is that America will in the future consider and implement more progressive policies to truly make it the greatest country in the world. I hope to live in this country for many years to come because this land of opportunity infatuates me, no matter how flawed or messy its politics can be at times.