So, Rand Paul won the CPAC 2016 presidential election straw poll.
It is definitely an exciting time to be a libertarian. Many have called this “our moment,” largely thanks to the recent Rand Paul prominence. With all the new support he garnered from filibustering the nomination of John Brennan for CIA director, Rand has transcended mere celebritarian status. He has become a household name, one that has perpetually been in the news the past few weeks. James Hohmann of Politico puts it best:
“The Kentucky senator roared into the event with big momentum from his filibuster on drones and followed up with a speech that seemed to broaden his support beyond the libertarian set.”
Though we should celebrate, the win is not solid. Paul only beat Marco Rubio by 2 percent of the vote. Rubio hasn’t seen the rise in popularity that Rand has; his presence at CPAC paled in the shadow that was Rand and the hordes of his supporters.
That he was so unassuming yet pulled a strong showing in the poll is troublesome. If the post-filibuster love for Rand Paul wanes over time while support from Team Rubio remains consistent, liberty lovers are in trouble. There is a way, though, for Rand to use the largely unexplainable support for Rubio to his advantage. He can run alongside him rather than against him; he can add him to the ticket – Paul/Rubio 2016.
Yeah, that sounds crazy.
But the CPAC straw poll has foreshadowed the Republican nominee before; last year’s winner was Mitt Romney. Together, Rand and Rubio took 48 percent of the vote this year – nearly half! Could they be the GOP dream team?
It would behoove Rand Paul to team up with a more traditional conservative. If he doesn’t acquire that voting base, someone like Rick Santorum will. Rand will also need to secure support from minority and low-information voters. Black and Hispanic people were two of the three demographics largely responsible for winning Obama reelection in 2012. Here again Rubio’s name on the ticket would be advantageous. A VP nominee that would help Rand Paul siphon those votes back from the Democrats may be an essential step on his path to the White House.
And you know what’s better? A Senate bereft of social conservative Marco Rubio: co-sponsor of PIPA and advocate for a national language. Given the limited scope of vice presidential power, Rubio would be less influential as VP than as an actor on the senate floor. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
In my libertarian dream, Rand Paul becomes president in 2016, marking the beginning of the end. The end of an expanding executive branch and national debt ceiling, the end to bureaucrats deriding the constitution and infringing on our individual liberties (in the name of our own safety). If Marco Rubio can help see that dream to reality, then I say, proudly: Paul/Rubio 2016.