Fortunately, the latest Pew poll broke down its results on the question of whether America should “mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own,” and I thought it might be of some interest to find out who it is who thinks we should mind our own business.
Several patterns are clear in the 2005 results, and these seem to hold over time. An overwhelming majority of those who have higher incomes and higher levels of education tend to disagree with the proposition that we should mind our own business. In terms of education, college graduates agree least often (27%), and among income classes those with incomes of $75,000+ agree least often (28%). The highest levels of agreement come from those with annual incomes of less than $20,000 (56%) and those who have not graduated from high school (55%) with high school graduates close behind at 50%.
Non-whites as a whole tend to agree much more often than whites: 57% vs. 39%. The post-Vietnam generation (30 years and younger) agrees (54%) far more often than their Boomer parents (age 50-65) (35%) that we should mind our own business. Most surprising to me (though I suppose it shouldn’t be) is that men agree slightly less often (40%) than women (44%) and only 37% of white men agree.
Regionally, the South (46%), West (42%) and East (45%) all show levels of agreement at or above the national average, with the Midwest at only 35%.
Religious, party and ideological affiliations are a little more telling, and a little more predictable. In the religious categories given, Evangelical Protestants are least likely to agree (32%), (white) Catholics somewhat more likely to agree (39%) and secular Americans most likely (44%). Republicans have a paltry level of agreement (27%), which has risen only five points since 2002. It appears that those who ought to be most scandalised by the failures of interventionism have scarcely changed their views. That 27% could be a solid core of America First Republicans, but they are vastly outnumbered within their own party. 55% of Democrats agree with the statement, up sharply from 40%, with self-described conservative and moderate Democrats registering the highest level of agreement at 58%, which is up even more dramatically from 39%.
22% of self-styled conservative Republicans agree with the proposition. We may, of course, doubt with good reason that such conservative Republicans have any idea what conservatism really is, but the fact remains that roughly four-fifths of people who identify themselves as conservative Republican reject the basic premise of an America First foreign policy. On foreign policy, it seems clear that registered Democrats are far more likely to embrace an America First message or at least something closer to it. In truth, it has never made sense to preach that message to the party of consolidation, finance, commerce and empire. Non-intervention is a Jeffersonian and Jacksonian principle, and their ideas and those who hold them have never really been fully welcome in the GOP.