There is a growing isolationism in the modern GOP. The party is no less hawkish on foreign policy, but there is an increasing suspicious and hostility towards the outside world. This isolationism reached a climax last week, when Governor Scott Walker voiced support for a border fence separating the US and Canada.
Isolationist has long been a piercing insult in American politics. A favorite of Republican hawks, the label has been used to dismiss the foreign policy views of everyone from Obama and Clinton, to Rubio and Rand Paul.
President Obama has only increased military engagements, and there is no sign of any American withdrawal. So clearly the term has been misused. But there is more to isolationism than foreign policy restraint. Hostility towards trade, immigration, and diplomacy are all aspects of an isolationist approach. And their prevalence is increasing in the modern GOP.
Opposition to relations with Cuba, and a general hostility towards free trade, and a sheer stubbornness to contemplate any Iranian nuclear deal are just a few examples of this isolationism in the Republican Party. These positions exist despite the Cuban trade embargo costing the US an estimated $1.2 billion in annually, and America’s economy strength relying heavily on its status as the world’s largest trading nation—with $2.3 trillion goods and services exported in 2013. As for the Iranian nuclear deal, it will not turn Iran into a liberal democracy (it was never intended to), it still the best way to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.
But no policy exemplifies this isolationist streak better than the desire to literally build a wall to cut off the outside world.