Much has been made of the swing in political allegiances of neoconservatives in favor of Hillary Clinton.
As a group, Washington’s neocons are generally terrified of Trump’s unpredictability and his flirtation with the alt-right. They also support Clinton’s more assertive foreign policy (not to mention her closer relationship to Israel). Perhaps, too, after eight long years in the wilderness, they’re daydreaming of an appointment or two in a Clinton administration.
This group of previously staunch Republicans, who believe in using American military power to promote democracy, build nations, and secure U.S. interests abroad, have defected in surprising numbers. Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan, the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens, and the Foreign Policy Initiative’s James Kirchick have all endorsed Clinton. Other prominent neocons like The National Review’s William Kristol, the Wall Street Journal’s Max Boot, and SAIS’s Eliot Cohen have rejected Trump but not quite taken the leap to supporting Clinton.
A not particularly large or well-defined group, neoconservatives have attracted a disproportionate amount of attention in this election. For the Trump camp, these Republican defectors merely prove that the elite is out to get their candidate, thus reinforcing his outsider credentials (never mind that Trump initially wooed neocons like Kristol). For the left, the neocons are flocking to support a bird of their feather, at least when it comes to foreign policy, which reflects badly on Clinton. The mainstream media, meanwhile, are attracted to the man-bites-dog aspect of the story (news flash: members of the vast right-wing conspiracy support Clinton!).