Progressives Vs. Conservatives on National Security

Conservatives used to think that they had an ironclad advantage on national security. But that advantage failed to save them in the 2008 election. And now it seems like their advantage might be turning into a disadvantage. President Barack Obama has been pursuing a progressive approach to our nation’s foreign policy that provides a sharp break with the belligerent, go-it-alone practices of the Bush administration. The result has been a surge of support for this new foreign policy.

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In a May Democracy Corps poll, 57 percent said they supported Obama’s national security policies, compared to just 30 percent who were opposed.

In the same poll, 58 percent endorsed the idea that America’s security depends on building strong ties with other nations, compared to 37 percent who believed America’s security depends on its own military strength.

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While the public is embracing Obama’s progressive approach to national security, conservatives have been noticeably unenthusiastic. The most unenthusiastic of all has been former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has shown downright hostility to Obama’s initiatives. Indeed, he has repeatedly said that Obama’s actions are making the country less safe and that the Bush administration’s policies were far better.

What does the public think? Well, when asked in an early June Democracy Corps poll whether Obama or Cheney has better ideas for keeping the country safe, they chose Obama’s ideas over Cheney’s by 54-39.

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Conservatives better get used to it. The public prefers the new, progressive approach to national security and has little interest in returning to the policies of the Bush administration in this area. And even conservatives’ best scare tactics aren’t going to change that situation.

Read more public opinion from Ruy Teixeira

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