by Amelia Sims, Emory University
“Yes, the filibuster was about drones, but also about much more. Do we have a Bill of Rights or not? Do we have a constitution or not and will we defend it?” This question asked by Senator Rand Paul at CPAC this weekend sums up not only the issues at hand over the weekend but also the newfound momentum growing in the Republican Party.
After a few bland Republican presidential candidates, the Republican Party seems to be embracing new leaders, issues, and innovations to propel them into the future. Rand Paul’s thirteen hour filibuster before the CPAC convention set a new tone not only for the party but for CPAC by bringing constitutional issues to the forefront. In the past few elections, the GOP has been on the defensive not only with social issues but also with the economy; however, Rand Paul and this new batch of brave conservatives including Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Nikki Haley, Scott Walker, and Mike Lee are putting conservatives back on the offensive with the mission of defending the constitution.
America’s constitution and belief in natural rights have long provided barriers to the totalitarian rule and radical ideology witnessed in Europe and the Middle East in the 20th and 21st centuries. Current issues discussed today concerning constitutional issues include second amendment rights, right to trial by jury, and unconstitutional expansion of the federal government. CPAC embraced these constitutional issues in panels entitled, “Re-energizing the American Dream,” “The Europeanization of America,” “In the Beginning: the First Principles,” “Religious Freedom: a Winning Issue for Conservatives” and movie screenings enumerating the important American founding documents.
Other interesting panels show that the conference seemed to have a pro-liberty edge. These include “The Liberty Movement and its Role in the Conservative Movement”, “Emerging issues for Movement Conservatives 2013,” and “Washington Won’t Fix Itself: From Healthcare Freedom to the Compact for American Balanced Budget Amendment, the States are the Solution”.
Rand Paul’s victory in the straw poll also gives insight into a more libertarian slant to the Republican Party today as many of its members support defense cuts, state’s rights, economic freedom, and preservation of the constitution. This focus on preserve principles while moving into the future with brash new leaders gave CPAC excitement and forward-feeling spirit. With new leaders and new issues on the forefront at CPAC, the party hardly seems irrelevant.