Rand Paul won the presidential straw poll at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), but he appears to have won the debate on drones by an even larger margin.
A poll of CPAC attendees found that 86% opposed the use of drones to “kill US citizens,” while 70% were against using them to “spy on U.S. citizens”. More strikingly, 50% of respondents at America’s largest gathering of conservative activists agreed with the following statement: “Nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, it’s time for our European, Asian, and other allies to provide for their own defense.”
Only 34% agreed with this statement: “As the world’s only superpower, the US needs to bear the responsibility of protecting our allies in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.” Another 17% didn’t know, weren’t sure or preferred not to say.
The wording of the questions certainly made conservatives more likely to give non-interventionist responses. One simple edit in the drone questions –changing “US citizens” to “terrorists” – might have elicited a somewhat different answer. Nevertheless, the momentum definitely appears to have shifted. Gone are the days of Americans supporting anything in the name of US security.