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Sen. Rand Paul at CPAC: GOP Must Embrace Freedom

by Michael Higham, published

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicked off Thursday in its 40th annual rendition. Among its speakers was Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who insisted the Republican Party needs to shift its platform.

It isn't new ground for the libertarian-minded lawmaker, but his reception at CPAC was indicative of party change:

"The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered... Our party is encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom. The new GOP will have to embrace freedom in both the economic and personal sphere."

Sen. Paul received cheers following his contrast of the present and future of the party. The message of fiscal conservatism and social liberty could be penetrating the conventional Republican party ranks.

Last week's 13-hour traditional filibuster has put the Senator in the political spotlight. He joked about spending 13 hours on the podium with two large binders and spent time revisiting the theme of drones and civil liberties.

Aside from Sen. Paul's speech, CPAC mentioned political compromise sparingly. He stated, "We must stand for something so powerful and so popular that it brings people from the left and the right and the middle."

The Senator's speech recognized the growing importance of young voters:

"The Facebook generation can detect falseness and hypocrisy from a mile away. They are the core of the 'leave me alone' coalition. They doubt social security will be there for them. They worry about jobs, money, rent, and student loans."

Around 46 million eligible voters were between the ages of 18 and 29 in the 2012 election. The youth voting bloc is expected to grow leading up to the 2016 election, making up almost one-third of the electorate. Share stat: Tweet

Young voters are increasingly independent in political affiliation. Expressing how a particular party platform is 'good' to these voters could be a tactic of the past. Tweet it: Tweet

Sen. Paul's speech also covered core Republican ideals. He argued preserving the right to bear arms is dependent upon upholding the Fourth Amendment. Lowering the corporate tax rates by half and a 17 percent flat personal income tax were a part of Sen. Paul's upcoming budget proposal.

Abolishing the Department of Education drew the biggest cheers. However, eliminating a growing agency is unlikely, but has been on the conservative agenda in the past.

If the Republican party is serious about contending in the future, embracing fundamental changes in the party platform may be necessary. Instead of preaching to the crowd, Rand Paul at CPAC shifted the crowd's focus.

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