You should know three things about these claims. The first is that they are nonsense. Rand Paul, Rep. Justin Amash, and other skeptics of reckless foreign wars and secret government spying on Americans aren’t isolationists. They’re prudent conservatives who take the Constitution seriously and rose to power amid the wreckage of the George W. Bush administration, which destroyed the GOP advantage on national security and provided a good example of how not to conduct foreign policy.
(PHOTOS: Rand Paul’s career)
The second thing you should know is that “isolationist” was designed as a slur and remains one. No one calls himself an isolationist. It’s always intended to link the target with the ignominious record of Americans in the 1930s who were slow to recognize the threat from Nazi Germany. But the term itself was coined around the turn of the 20th century by the imperialist A. T. Mahan to disparage opponents of American overseas expansion. As the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Walter McDougall showed, America’s “vaunted tradition of ‘isolationism’ is no tradition at all, but a dirty word that interventionists, especially since Pearl Harbor, hurl at anyone who questions their policies.”
Coincidentally, perhaps, the third thing you should know is that the people trying to create anxiety about isolationism favor an interventionist military policy that has fallen out of favor with the public.