A Tea Party president’s foreign policy would markedly differ from that of a Progressive, Libertarian, or establishment candidate.
How would the election of such as Sen. Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, or Gov. Mike Pence in 2016 affect U.S. foreign policy? In previous columns, I have outlined what might be the foreign policy proclivities of candidates who represent the Republican Party establishment (e.g., Jeb Bush), the Democratic establishment (Hillary Clinton), of libertarians (Sen. Rand Paul), and of progressives (Sen. Elizabeth Warren) without speculating on the chances any might have of being elected.
Were anyone to argue that the foreign policy consequences of a Tea Party president are irrelevant because none is likely to be elected, I would suggest first, that the several conservative constituencies—who support the Club For Growth, are pro-family, pro-life, pro-gun rights, etc.—often jointly referred to as “Tea Party,” are at least as numerous as any other element of America’s body politic. Second, if anything is clear about our body politic today, it is its massive dissatisfaction with Democrats and disillusionment with Republicans. More than ever, Americans vote less according to party than for or against identities and issues. Hence, in the fluid politics of 2016, another Bush or another Clinton will struggle against whoever offers a populist alternative to the establishment, whether a Progressive Warren, conservative Cruz, or libertarian Paul.
Herewith, then, some insight into how the heart and mind of the Tea Party might incline a president of its own with regard to foreign policy.
Distinct from the Establishment, Libertarians, and Progressives
Having practiced law at the highest levels, Cruz has had little time to think deeply about foreign affairs. Carson, busy advancing the theory and practice of brain surgery, has had even less. Indiana has occupied Pence’s heart and mind. These and similar persons, however, would bring to the presidency a set of attitudes that is second nature in American society’s Tea Party contingent—attitudes that make for a foreign policy very different from that of progressives or Libertarians, as well as from of our bipartisan establishment’s neoconservative consensus.