We’ve argued that the libertarian influence on the GOP has been grossly exaggerated. There is striking new evidence to corroborate this. From the Pew Research poll:
Republicans, Democrats and independents all are more likely to say the U.S. does too little to solve world problems, but the shift among Republicans has been striking. Last fall, 52% of Republicans said the U.S. does too much to help solve global problems, while just 18% said it does too little. Today, 46% of Republicans think the U.S. does too little to solve global problems, while 37% say it does too much. . . . Tea Party Republicans’ views of the U.S. role in solving world problems have changed dramatically since last November. Today, 54% of Republicans and GOP leaners who agree with the Tea Party say it does too little to help solve world problems; just 33% say it does too much. Last year, opinions were nearly the reverse: 54% of Tea Party Republicans said the U.S. did too much global problem-solving while 22% said it did too little.
This doesn’t surprise many of us, who have recognized that the tea party is chock full of evangelical Christians, most of whom are in favor of a very tough foreign policy and U.S. leadership in the world. Anyone seeking the GOP presidential nomination better be on the hawkish side; the GOP is fed up with foreign policy weakness:
Republicans (64%) and about half of independents (53%) think the U.S. is less powerful globally than it was a decade ago (when George W. Bush was president). Among Democrats, just 30% think the U.S. is less powerful and important than it was 10 years ago, while 46% say it is as important.
Among Tea Party Republicans, fully 82% think the U.S. is a less important and powerful world leader than it was a decade ago. That compares with 61% of non-Tea Party Republicans.
While isolationists like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have said we have no stake in the outcome in Iraq, conservatives vehemently disagree. “Nearly eight-in-ten Republicans (78%) label ISIS as a major threat, compared with 65% of Democrats and 63% of independents. Among Republicans and those who lean Republican, Tea Party supporters are the most concerned — 91% say ISIS is a major threat, compared with 72% of those who do not agree with the Tea Party.”
The GOP has traditionally been the strong-on-defense party. Perhaps it took President Obama to remind Republicans why that is. They will need to pick senators, congressmen and a presidential nominee who agree that weakness is provocative and that the United States must project its power and defend its values.