Thoughts on CPAC

Same topic, different views

By Tim Baldwin and Joe Carbonari

By Tim Baldwin

Sen. Rand Paul recently won the CPAC straw poll for the third year in a row with 26 percent of 3,007 votes. Paul led runner up, Gov. Scott Walker, by over 4 points. Sen. Ted Cruz received 11.5 percent, while Jeb Bush received only 8.3 percent despite reports of his busing people in to support him. This may signal a better future for the Republican Party as 42 percent of the voters were students and between the ages of 18 and 25.

Voters expressed important issues such as the economy and national security. Perhaps not so surprisingly, only 27 percent said marijuana should remain illegal. Given Paul’s consistent message of reforming the criminal justice system, ending privacy invasions by government, and not meddling in foreign affairs, it seems younger conservatives are far more libertarian than their parents’ generation and are thrilled to prevent people like Jeb Bush from becoming president.

In a system where two parties control politics, there is little to no opportunity for “rogue” candidates to be nominated for president by their party. Paul may demonstrate an exception to this, however. Paul works well with other parties and reaches voters that mainstream Republicans normally ignore. Of course, this is why grassroots-America likes Paul. In short, Paul appears to be the only Republican candidate who will have a chance of beating the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

 By Joe Carbonari

The Conservative Political Action Conference sounds like fun – lots of energy, youth, and enthusiasm. Rand Paul won the straw poll again. Rand and Ron Paul, his father, have won the poll five of the last six years. CPAC has grown significantly and seems to lean more Libertarian than Family Values. Socially, I find them entertaining.

I like their “leave me alone to do as I wish” views, and the “I’ll pay the consequences myself” sense of personal responsibility, but I think they may underplay the value of leading, rather than reacting, to world affairs. Like a gas, chaos … or evil, if you wish, tends to fill a vacuum. Civil disorder is a precursor. There is some serious disorder going on. We need to get it under control.

International intervention is dicey. We think we have a moral right, perhaps even an existential one, to intervene. Others may disagree; the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, and so on. They have their own viewpoints. The people we send to advance and to protect our interests better be good.

A surprising amount of how the world turns still seems to ride on the personalities at the top. Let’s pick carefully who we send to deal with the “Putins” of the world. Rand Paul would not be my first choice. I’d like a stronger mix of street smarts and diplomacy. Someone calm, but tough. Let’s keep looking.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.