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Worlds Apart: U.S. Foreign Policy and American Public Opinion

  • 2168 Rayburn House Office Building (map)

Here in the United States, the relationship between citizen and government is elemental. Presiding thoughts and preferences are not simply sourced within the Beltway. To the contrary, American public opinion is often reflected in the views supported by policymakers and elected officials. However, within the realm of foreign policy, the voice of the people is often left unheeded.

Mark Hannah, a research fellow at the Eurasia Group Foundation, recently published a revealing study that suggests most Americans favor a more restrained approach to foreign policy than Beltway elites have pursued. According to his survey data, this preference crosses party lines and generational cohorts. Importantly, respondents favor engagement with the rest of the world, including free trade and enhanced diplomacy. They do not believe that peace and prosperity are best served by armed intervention abroad. Why, then, have elected officials and foreign policymakers proved less sensitive and responsive to their constituents?

On behalf of the Charles Koch Institute, we invite you to attend a lunch discussion with the study’s author, Mark Hannah, and Trevor Thrall, associate professor of international security in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. Their remarks will examine the intersection of foreign policy, public opinion, and the widening gap between the interests and concerns of elites and the public.