The GOP Battle: Paul vs. Cruz
“You may think I'm talking about electing Republicans. I'm not. I'm talking about electing lovers of liberty.” - Rand Paul, CPAC 2014 speech.
There is a fierce battle brewing between three sects of a divided Republican Party. The Rand Paul libertarians and the Ted Cruz social conservatives are drumming up support for what could be a bloody competition to rule the roost of 2016. In the safe middle is the establishmentarian moderates and the elites of the Republican Party, like Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. The most watched and most important battle, however, will be the battle between the GOP's two rights – the battle between Paul and Cruz.
In an interview with Vocativ, Rand Paul spoke of a Republican Party that requires a softer approach to social issues. In 2012, when Ted Cruz won his senate seat in Texas, the Washington Post likened him to a socially conservative crusader. What both men have in common is their strong commitment to the US Constitution and their strong support from within the Tea Party.
As the Republican establishment vows to crush the Tea Party and mainstream pundits try to make competition inside the ranks of the GOP look like a bad thing, the Tea Party will only turn up the heat and help decide who the GOP nominee will be in 2016. Although the Tea Party won't win everywhere, they will hold significant influence in this year's mid-term elections, not just in the 2016 presidential race. This much is certain.
Anyone who questions the influence of the Tea Party should keep in mind that Ted Cruz, Jeff Denham and possibly even Rand Paul would not have been elected had it not been for the Tea Party.
The Tea Party's most ideal ticket for 2016 would be a Paul/Cruz or Cruz/Paul ticket. Current polls show Paul and Cruz taking the lead in most Republican and conservative straw polls. But straw polls didn't do much for Rand Paul's father in 2012. It'll take more than a bunch of conservatives dreaming about the possibilities. To win 2016, constitutional conservatives will have to cooperate and walk the walk – not just talk the talk and revel in the results of silly straw polls.
For Reagan conservatives, Rand Paul offers something Ted Cruz might not. He has tried to blend Reaganism with libertarianism and straighten out the misconceptions about the GOP's most admired White House superstar. Ted Cruz has worked at reviving a Bush-esque social view that may work to further alienate the GOP's libertarian wing. However, as George W. Bush learned in both 2000 and 2004, Evangelicals and fundamentalist Christians can be a very valuable asset for Republicans. In both 2008 and 2012, Evangelicals found little to be excited about in John McCain and Mitt Romney.
A unified Paul/Cruz ticket could be what triggers a new era of GOP hegemony. Moderates, establishment Republicans, and conservatives will be prepared to show up in large numbers in 2016 to prevent three consecutive Democratic wins...if they have the right representation. Appeasing both libertarians and social conservatives could be what the Republican Party needs for long term success.
“You want to lose elections, stand for nothing,” Ted Cruz told CPAC 2014. “06', 08', 10' and 12'. Three of the four, we followed that strategy. We put our heads down, we stood for nothing and we got walloped.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. As Cruz has said before, the GOP can no longer continue to seek a middle ground. Republicans need to stand for something. They need to stand strong for their principles. The GOP can't afford any more compromises.
Both men have their own artillery and both are ready to take the helm of the GOP from those who want to keep the party walking down the middle, like Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. Paul and Cruz will fight to the finish, leaving the final choice up to Republican voters, not the old establishment. That choice will be made very clear by the 2016 Republican primaries.
When it comes to elections, both men may have the charisma and gravitas to win an election. When comparing both men's visions and skills, watching their CPAC 2014 speeches may be of value.
Watch Rand Paul's CPAC speech:
Watch Ted Cruz's CPAC Speech:
2016 will be a pivotal year in America. If Republicans want to win, it is important for Republican voters to choose wisely and not accept the GOP's status quo. Not this time.