There were plenty of side shows, but the real action on the first day of CPAC was the contrasting speeches given by Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Rand Paul.
Over at Prez16, Christian Heinze breaks it down:
Rubio is the new voice of old thinking. He stands with neo-conservatives, social conservatives, and traditional economic conservatives.
Meanwhile, Rand is the new voice of new thinking: He’s pushing the GOP toward isolationism, states rights on a host of social issues, and greater civil liberties at the expense of more civil protection.
There are problems with this.
First, Rand Paul is also a social conservative. In fact, he spoke at the National Right to Life March this year.
But more to the point, Heinze’s designation of “old” versus “new” is simplistic. In modern context, it makes sense. But in a larger context, advocating “isolationism” and “states rights” hardly makes one a “voice of new thinking.”
(Speaking of old vs. new, there’s a reason why Rand’s views are often called “Paleoconservative” and why Heinze says Rubio stands with “neo-conservatives.” The very words tell the story.)
Paul’s positions may sound refreshing today, but they would have been much more in keeping in a bygone era. It wasn’t until Republicans embraced the more Rubio-esque ideas that they began winning elections. That’s why his ideas are now considered “old.”
That’s not to say past is prologue. Maybe the world has changed? But it is to say that the old versus new paradigm is more complicated.
The reason the Rubio vs. Paul contrast is so exciting is that on one hand, both are young senators elected in 2010 during the tea party zeitgeist. But on the other hand, they really do represent an ideological clash over the heart and soul of the GOP.
But it’s probably more accurate to say Rand Paul represents the old ideas. Of course, that doesn’t make them wrong. The Constitution, some would say, is full of old ideas.