A sea change has occurred in America away from minding other countries business. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both warned sharply against foreign entanglements, in direct opposition to the interventionist tactics of today’s American War Dogs. The Wall Street Journal reports on a recent poll that details Americans’ desire to pull back.
The poll findings, combined with the results of prior Journal/NBC surveys this year, portray a public weary of foreign entanglements and disenchanted with a U.S. economic system that many believe is stacked against them. The 47% of respondents who called for a less-active role in world affairs marked a larger share than in similar polling in 2001, 1997 and 1995.(See poll results over time about America’s role in the world.)
Similarly, the Pew Research Center last year found a record 53% saying that the U.S. “should mind its own business internationally” and let other countries get along as best they can, compared with 41% who said so in 1995 and 20% in 1964.
“The juxtaposition of an America that wants to turn inward and away from world affairs, and a strong feeling of powerlessness domestically, is a powerful current that so far has eluded the grasp of Democrats and Republicans,” said Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who conducts the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. “The message from the American public to their leaders in this poll seems to be: You need to take care of business here at home.”
The poll results have broad implications for U.S. politics, helping to explain, among other developments, Mr. Obama’s hesitance to have the U.S. take the lead in using military force in Libya, the reluctance of Congress to authorize force against Syria and the ascent as a national figure of Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), a potential 2016 presidential candidate who has called for a restrained foreign policy.
Support for Mr. Obama’s handling of Russian intervention in Ukraine slipped to 37% in the new poll from 43% in March. But at the same time, a plurality agreed with the statement that Mr. Obama takes “a balanced approach” to foreign policy “depending on the situation,” with smaller shares rating him as too cautious or too bold.
Melissa Western, a graphic designer from Chandler, Ariz., who participated in the poll, called Mr. Obama’s foreign policy “lackadaisical.”
“I’m not saying go to war, but I feel like he has a lot of empty threats,” said Ms. Western, an independent who voted for Republican Mitt Romney in 2012. “He’s hard to take seriously.”
Dora Lovett, a Democratic poll respondent in Ozark, Ark., said Mr. Obama should focus more on domestic issues and less on events abroad. “I just feel like he does more for them than he does for us,” she said, citing foreign aid as an example.