American Isolationism Gaining Popularity


Will Beatrez `15

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center suggests that Americans have been far less engaged in foreign policy issues as of late. For the first time in the history of the Pew poll, more than half of Americans believe that “the U.S. should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.” What’s even more surprising, however, is that US citizens seem to be taking not simply an apathetic stance, but an isolationist stance toward international engagement.

The statistics show that a greater percent of Republicans express isolationist views than Democrats, which is not surprising since the sitting president is a Democrat. Historically, this phenomenon pertains to the party which is not in power. Additionally, a president typically becomes more involved in foreign policy in the second half of his second term, which is yet to come for the current executives. The Obama administration already faced similar problems in pushing his plan in the fall of 2013 to launch limited strikes on Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons. The overwhelming opposition prevented the administration from carry out such actions.

Other statistics show that the American public is not supportive of US involvement. 80 percent of Americans say the US should “not think so much in international terms but concentrate more on our own national problems.” 53 percent agree with the statement that the US is “less important and powerful as a world leader than it was ten years ago.” In a similar poll question, 70 percent agree that the US is “less respected” abroad than it has been in the past. Just over half of those surveyed agree that the US does too much in “solving the world’s problems.”



Washington Post

Pew Research Center