Should Americans Emigrate or Defect?
Wendy McElroy, Contributor
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Anyone planning to permanently leave the US should give deep thought to whether they are emigrating or defecting.
The two concepts have so much in common that they tend to blur together. They may be best viewed as two extremes of the same axis upon which people can ‘grade’ themselves. But there is a significant difference between the attitude, motives, and actions of a straightforward emigrant versus a defector. And where you stand on the axis affects the most important aspect of who you are: How do you evaluate yourself?
Both emigrants and defectors physically leave a nation to relocate permanently elsewhere. But the key difference between emigration and defection is the motive. Emigrants usually relocate to be with family or for economic reasons. The motives can have political overtones; for example, some portion of the family may have left due to religious persecution or the homeland may have a disastrous tax rate. By contrast, defection is a political or moral act of renunciation aimed at the abandoned state. It is an active shunning of citizenship that is independent from family or economic concerns. Emigration focuses primarily on arriving to embrace something; defection focuses primarily on leaving in protest. They are not mutually exclusive, however.