History will remember the oversight of popular sentiment for American isolationism in the 21st century as one of the key mistakes of the American political system. The “unprecedented” trend towards isolationism in the United States is not unprecedented at all. Following World War I and the Great Depression, a majority of Americans were in favor of a more domestic America, focused on internal issues rather than foreign ones. It was not until the establishment of the post-WWII global world order by the United States, that generations championed the global defense of freedom, enterprise, and democracy.
Two decades of failed foreign endeavors in the Middle East and a recovering economy has left a sour taste in the mouth of many young Americans, who echo sentiments 100-years old. Those who, like myself, grew up watching the bombing of Baghdad in post-911 America, have all but lost interest in America’s global leadership. Yet, what many millennials must now grapple with, in lieu of the most isolationist election in recent history, will be how their views on the global economy and trade, contradicts their views on social justice and innovation.
Young voters in the United States have grown up during the worst economic recession since the 1930’s; an experience which has stigmatized large corporations and pushed voters to the left on issues such as trade. Bernie Sander’s political movement, which captivated the attention of millions of millennials across the country, endorsed Bernie’s long held anti-capitalist views of the 1960’s and 1970’s. His views against trade agreements such as NAFTA and the TPP, stem from a pushback of U.S foreign policy during the Cold War and for protection of the American blue-collar worker.
Yet, many anti-trade millennials do not identify with blue-collar workers and are, in many cases, college educated. Their appeal for Bernie’s rhetoric thrives in a distrust of large corporations who “ship” jobs overseas and influence domestic policy.