Clinton, Trump Supporters Express Wildly Divergent Views on Foreign Policy
By Joseph Larsen
Manhattan billionaire Donald Trump has been the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee since May 3, 2016, when Ted Cruz dropped out of the race. His likely opponent in November’s presidential showdown will be Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former senator, first lady, and secretary of state.
On matters of foreign policy, the two candidates couldn’t be more different. Clinton has spent more than a decade making foreign policy. Her record includes lobbying for the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya and helping build support for international sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. She is often referred to as a “hawk”, which roughly means being unafraid of using American military might to further national interests.
Trump has no experience in foreign policy, and scarcely more in the way of coherent views. He is apparently a stern opponent of free trade, has expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin, and believes that NATO membership has become burdensome for the United States. While pledging to focus on “rebuilding the US”, he has also promised to strengthen American military capabilities and make the so-called Islamic State disappear “very, very quickly.”
It is impossible to predict what Trump will do tomorrow, let alone how he would behave once in the White House. Clinton’s policies are also difficult to project, given that pressure from her primary opponent, left-wing populist Bernie Sanders, has recently pushed her to the left on some issues.
A survey published on May 5, 2016 by the Pew Research Center paints a vivid picture of the voters behind the two candidates, and may be helpful in predicting what a Clinton or Trump presidency would look like. The Pew survey was conducted in April, with field researchers conducting telephone calls with 2,008 adults across the United States.
Clinton and Trump supporters see the world through different eyes. For example, the survey found that 85 percent of self-professed Trump supporters consider large numbers of refugees from Syria to be a “major threat” to the United States. By contrast, 40 percent of Clinton supporters gave the same answer.
Seventy-seven percent of Trump supporters favor the use of “overwhelming force” to defeat international terrorist organizations, compared to only 30 percent of Clinton supporters. The latter group are more than twice as likely to believe that overwhelming force exacerbates the problem by fueling anti-American sentiment.
Predictably, Trump backers are less enthusiastic about NATO. Sixty-four percent of them report viewing the alliance as “good for the US.” That is compared to 83 percent of Clinton supporters. Overall, 77 percent of Americans believe the alliance is good for their country, although most also believe that the NATO allies benefit at America’s expense.
Whereas Trump supporters are lukewarm about NATO, 66 percent of them want to see increased US military spending. Only 21 percent of Clinton supporters feel the same. These numbers show the disparities between the views of the candidates and those of their respective constituencies. Clinton envisions a US that is more engaged with the wider world, whereas Trump promises to be more inward looking (although he has verbally appealed to militarism throughout his campaign).
One question on which the two camps agree concerns the use of force against ISIS. Sixty-nine percent of Clinton supporters and 66 percent of Trump supporters favor the current US military campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. (A nearly-identical 66 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats favor the military action, making it one of the few issues that Americans agree on).
The two camps have widely divergent views on global economic policy as well. Sixty-five percent of Trump supporters view US involvement in the global economy in a negative way, responding that it “lowers wages” and “costs jobs” in the domestic economy. Only 36 percent of Clinton supporters gave the same answer. Republican voters in general were more likely to have a poor view of America’s role in the global economy. This indicates a reversal of orthodoxy, where the Republicans are viewed as the party of free trade and open markets and the Democrats being seen as more likely to favor protectionist measures.
The Pew survey can be read in full here: http://www.people-press.org/2016/05/05/public-uncertain-divided-over-americas-place-in-the-world/
(Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University by John A. Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr., published by Oxford University Press, 2016)
This short book surveys the experiences of right-wing social science and humanities professors in the US university system.
Conservative scorn for the American academy and its leftward biases has been a fixture of American politics at least since the 1950s.
Currently, it's as relevant as ever. Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio earlier this year referred to liberal arts colleges as left-wing "indoctrination camps." That is not a fringe viewpoint.
The political Right's anti-intellectualism has invited an understandable backlash from liberal academics, providing reliable fodder for the Left's self-identification as a truth seeking movement fighting against "brain dead Conservativism."
This feedback loop leads to polarization: conservatives are excluded from academic discourse, and in turn become more exasperated with the leftward culture of the university system.
John A. Shields, a professor at Claremont McKenna College, and Joshua M. Dunn Sr., a professor at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, engage with this debate in two important ways.
First, they document the experiences of 153 right-leaning professors in the social sciences and humanities (spoiler: they find conservatives getting less than a fair shake).
Second, rather than rail against the academy from the outside—the preferred response of GOP politicians and one that reinforces stigma against conservative academics—they propose a strategy of engagement.
Shields and Dunn focus on three ways right-leaning academics are marginalized. The first is the process of awarding tenure. Over the course of their interviews, they find a heavy degree of perceived discrimination.
Many academics were afraid to "come out" as conservatives lest they be denied tenure. One interviewee hid his political views for years:
"I started feeling like a whore, which is what you feel like when you're lying to people all the time. I do try to avoid the conversations, I do try to change the subject ... it is dangerous even to think a conservative thought when I'm on campus, because it might come out of my mouth."
In fact, a full 46 percent of political science professors interviewed for this book claimed to have concealed their political views prior to receiving tenure. The same perceived bias works against conservatives during the publishing process.
(The reader should keep in mind, however, that Shields and Dunn managed to get this book published with Oxford University Press.)
Even if a work expressing conservative or right-wing ideas does get published, it is likely to be cited less often than its quality would indicate. Most academics are on the Left and thus less likely to cite right-wing publications.
What do the authors find to be the most significant explanation for this dearth of right-wing voices? Self exclusion. Few conservative undergraduate students are interested in pursuing professorships.
Of course, some liberals attribute that to the "conservative mind" and its inherent mental deficiencies or moral failings. Academics get paid to think objectively and rigorously. Conservatives pursue careers elsewhere because they're incapable of doing either.
The authors rightly raise issue with that caricature, pointing to the fact that a large number of academic positions in STEM fields are held by conservatives.
Plus, anyone who has followed Russell Kirk, Niall Ferguson, Sam Huntington, Yuval Levin, or any other conservative scholar from the past century (Limbaugh and Beck don't count) would have a hard time categorizing them as "mentally deficient."
As the authors point out, the liberal assumption that conservatives lack brain power stems largely from their relative absence from the academy.
Much space is devoted to accounting for nuance in the experiences of right-leaning academics. For example, libertarians report feeling much more comfortable in academic life than do cultural conservatives and neoconservatives.
Moreover, the economics field is commonly viewed as a bastion of right-wing thought. And it is, at least relative to the other social sciences.
The authors cite a 2008 study which found professors of economics to be equally split between supporting Republican, Democrat, and Independent positions.
By contrast, the same study found 72 sociology professors identifying as Democrat, compared to only three identifying as Republican.
The consequence of this anti-conservative bias is a university system that is cloistered and intellectually homogenous. Professors tend to bounce liberal assumptions off each other rather than engage with diverse and contradictory ideas.
We are often left with narratives that are too simple and lack rigor. In the words of Shields and Dunn:
“Many disciplines neglect topics or provide suspect answers to questions that complicate the progressive narrative. Sometimes academics do so by telling the story of the left in either a triumphant way or in a way that leaves no room for conservative contributions to human progress.”
The authors' arguments are well-laid and lucidly expressed. Some of the personal accounts make for excellent reading. There are shortcomings, too. The sample size is small.
And because the data measures conservative professors' perceptions about the academy, rather than objective conditions, it must be taken with a grain of salt.
Shields and Dunn deliver a trenchant study that raises important questions about bias and homogeneity in the university system. The quantitative foundations are lacking, however.
This book also received a lot of criticism from conservatives who believe that Shields and Dunn downplay the extent of discrimination, even to the point of apologizing for it. These critics are mistaken.
However, their claims aren't entirely groundless. The authors place too much emphasis on the intellectual freedom that right-leaning professors enjoy after attaining tenure, while devoting relatively little to the negative experiences of assistant professors and graduate students.
Moreover, the book's promotion raised ire among the authors' fellow conservatives, as it appeared they were taking pains to present their findings in a manner that liberals would find palatable.
This is due largely to an op-ed Shields and Dunn published in the Washington Post titled "Forget what the right says: Academia isn't so bad for conservative professors."
The article (and the title in particular, which the authors claim was written not by themselves but by their editor) provoked a furious rebuttal from National Review writer Frederick Hess. Hess accused them of having "Stockholm Syndrome" toward their liberal colleagues.
The controversy surrounding Passing on the Right proves that outcome was worth the endeavor of its authors. Whether readers love or hate it, Shields and Dunn have succeeded in drawing attention to the lack of intellectual diversity in the American university system.