I’ve been fortunate to live in six states, including on both coasts, in the Midwest and in the southwest. And I’ve found one constant everywhere I’ve called home: People who have lived in multiple places — and especially if they’ve been fortunate to travel — are more likely to adopt an internationalist perspective.
These internationalists, and critics of such people are likely to use that term as a pejorative, see cooperation and mutual benefit as essential. Common interests trump any nationalistic sentiments. Organizations such as the United Nations are supported and considered critical to the promotion of international norms.
In comparison, those who reject an internationalist perspective see America as the hub and the other nations are the spokes; the United States, as the preeminent military and economic power, holds a moral authority to lead. And when it leads, the argument goes, it always does so as a force for good.
There’s a pronounced tension in these views that is crystallized most clearly when it comes to criticizing the United States. Internationalists assert that when the United States does something wrong, and internationalists believe it often does, the country needs to be called out. Non-internationalists, and here stereotype might be evident, often are heard saying, “My country. Love it or leave it.”
I’ll let you pick up the argument from here.
One British journalist sees a similar tension in the United Kingdom. Writing in The Times, Rod Liddle suggests that those who have left their place of birth are more likely to see the UK’s departure from the European Union as a bad thing, while those who have remained close to their place of birth are excited about what’s to come.
Put another way, those who left want to remain, while those who have remained relish the leave.
The “remain” crowd contains the internationalists; the “leave” crowd contains the non-internationalists. If a “Brexit” were held in the United States, the same divisions would be evident.