Opinion: CPAC 2013: the new guard

Shawn Mercer

Shawn Mercer

Shawn Mercer is a sophomore integrated life sciences major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

This year marked the 40th Conservative Political Action Conference. Just outside of the capital, thousands of conservatives gathered in National Harbor, Md., to witness and participate in the discourse about which direction the conservative movement ought to go.

It is imperative that if the conservative movement, whose power is centralized in the Republican Party, wants to win back the White House and the hearts of Americans in 2016, its ticket cannot include candidates that are merely electable; it must run charismatic, yet principled candidates. It must be sincere in its delivery of conservative principles while standing apart from the old guard of the Republican Party.

Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul and Benjamin Carson represent a freshness and youthful poignancy that points the conservative movement toward principled and focused ideals, chiefly limited government and individual freedom.

Rubio, a Florida senator, is a living example of the American dream. Born to Cuban immigrants, his success from lowly beginnings is the fountain from which his conservative ideas spring. His ability to witness the fruits of hard work gives him a perspective that average Americans can relate to. Being of the people and for the people legitimizes his beliefs in a way that being born into success cannot.

Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, offered a plan to the balance the federal budget, materializing the bipartisan belief in fiscal sanity. Average Americans understand the consequences of living beyond our means, and accordingly, Ryan offers these folks an answer to our fiscal woes. This is where Ryan stands out: He has actually offered a solution.

Paul, a senator from Kentucky, has recently made a name for himself by filibustering for 13 hours in protest of the ambiguous limitations on our drone program. Paul stands on solid footing by defending the rights of Americans to due process and by consistently standing for individual freedoms. His libertarian sensibilities and his willingness to break file with other Republicans make him stand out as a genuine leader within the broken Washington political culture.

Carson, neurosurgeon and director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, has entered the political scene after delivering the keynote speech at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast. Having grown up in dire poverty, Carson emphasizes the importance of reading and the encouragement his mother gave him. He was able to escape his situation through his academics and went on to become a neurosurgeon. His humble origins are evident when he approaches the problems facing the nation: He offers pragmatic solutions that encompass the broken tax code, health care system and economy. Although he has not officially announced an entrance into political life, he is retiring from his current job. Carson, whether or not he makes a run for the White House, will nonetheless influence American politics.

Overall, as the Republican Party and the conservative movement move forward, they will both undoubtedly need the leadership of younger conservatives. There is no doubt that youth and energy are what the movement needs, and there will be no problem when it comes time to change the guard.