Don’t voters care about foreign policy anymore?

“Has there been a serious exchange between any candidates—Tea Party, Republican, Vegetarian, Libertarian, Democrat—about what we should be doing with Iran?” asks Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (who is not up for reelection this year). “Have you seen one commercial about whether our Afghan strategy is good or bad? We’re within days, literally, of a major shift in power in Washington,” Graham told an audience in the capital recently, “and you would never know that this nation is involved in two wars, and looming threats face us all that could change the course of humanity and mankind.” Graham seemed genuinely puzzled: “What I don’t understand is how in the world did this happen?”…

The general apathy in America is, in all too many cases, joined to willful ignorance. At a time when rage is rampant and rationality in retreat, when, as Sharon Begley wrote in these pages a few weeks ago, “for many angry voters, expert consensus on anything from climate change to economic policy is reason enough to reject it,” nobody wants to hear from policy wonks (including the president) about the damnably complicated business of foreign affairs. In the discourse of the campaigns, “overseas” is where jobs are sent by cynical businessmen, or allowed to go by hapless incumbents. Or both. In the meantime, immigrants—illegal immigrants—are coming into the United States by the millions, it’s said, to take those jobs that are already in such short supply. In this campaign season, the whole world can be boiled down to “them” and “us,” and “they” don’t have a voice or a vote.