The great conservative convention came and went, just like every year. But this year showed something more than previous years—no, not a fractured party undergoing “civil war." This past weekend showcased a boxed-in party, a movement that fortunately includes a great debate, not a great divide.
Senator Rand Paul won the straw poll in a convincing fashion, showing that the libertarian-leaning bastions within the Republican ranks are indeed “dangerous,” to use Governor Chris Christie’s words. That’s a good thing. The GOP must move past simply calling libertarians "dangerous," which will only stifle debate and momentum going into 2016.
There aren’t many fresh faces in the speaker crowd: Paul Ryan, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Marco Rubio were all there. Rand Paul seems to be the only one pushing for a new way forward, not just an intense focus on criticizing the President.
Indeed, the top applause came from speakers’ one-liners about President Obama’s perceived failures. This is an easy target so far into a presidency, and it's effective for galvanizing the base.
Nervousness. I didn’t even have to be there to witness it—just watching people’s faces from the television convinced me. Why then, do I say it’s not-so-obvious?
Republicans are facing an uphill battle in ’16. They know it. Democrats know it. The GOP is trying to catch up in the technology deficit, the true weapon in any modern national election battle. The party chair, Reince Priebus, stated he felt like they are gaining ground, but have yet to catch up, a rather rare and sincere answer given their uncertainty off success in ’16.
This party soul-searching isn't new, as evidenced by the Democratic Party of the 1980s. It's also wasn't the only interesting dynamic at CPAC 2014. CPAC invited