Why Do the Nordics Know So Much About American Politics?

We’re obsessed with you, for good reason.

Taru Anniina Liikanen


Photo by Ryan Jacobson on Unsplash

I was having a conversation about the SCOTUS leak with an Argentinian friend the other day and ended up feeling like a true nerd.

I, a Finnish person living in Argentina who has only been to the US for ten days once in her life, know the names and political orientations of all Supreme Court justices. It seems kind of unnecessary, right?

Admittedly, I am a politics nerd with a degree in international relations and a master’s in journalism. But my friend in question also has a degree in political science, and she also works for the government. But she or pretty much any of my Argie friends have no idea about who’s who and what happened in the US Supreme Court. This, actually, makes much more sense.

I also think it’s worth noting that I do not have the slightest idea of how many members the Finnish Supreme Court has, let alone what they think about anything. But for some reason, I know Sonia Sotomayor writes children’s books about her experiences with type 1 diabetes and that Brett Kavanaugh likes beer but isn’t great with calendars. I also know the names of way too many US congressmen and senators.

Many of my Nordic friends and acquaintances, as well as my Finnish family members, also always have a good idea of what is going on politically in the US. People under 40, especially.

Whenever something relevant happens, I know my sisters in Finland are already up-to-date. They may have a different level of insight from mine given that they don’t spend their entire day talking and thinking about politics, but they’re always aware of what’s going on.

Why is that?

Language and Culture Keep Us Close

One of the things that frustrated me to no end when I moved to Barcelona in 2006 was the dubbing of everything. Every TV channel was dubbed into Spanish, and back then there was no way to see your shows in another language. Most movie theaters only offered Spanish-language versions of movies, and I used to have to cross the city to find one that offered originals.



Taru Anniina Liikanen

Stand-up comedian and recovering political ghostwriter. Finnish by birth, porteña at heart. Bad jokes frequent.