By Matt Hicks
Senior at Eastern Connecticut State University
Political Science Major and History and Pre-Law Minors
Republicans looking for a fresh start, hope for a future in fiscal conservatism
This was my third straight year attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). I have had the honor of travelling to D.C. with the Eastern Conservative-Libertarians club since my freshman year. Through those three years I have noticed a transition amongst the attendees of CPAC, never so strongly as this year, however. This year it was clear that libertarianism was in the air. After quickly dismissing the initial thought that the Potomac River was at fault for this “crazy” atmosphere, I realized that the interests of the attendees had changed drastically. Panel discussions were centered around issues such as: the legalization of marijuana, the role of conservative females in the workforce, and the government’s role in the educational system amongst many others. It seemed that the crux of every panel came down to economic consequences. Speakers such as Rick Perry refrained from the normal onslaught of President Obama’s leadership but rather focused the majority of his efforts on the economic successes that Texas has seen; suggesting a similar fiscal model for the nation as a whole. Whether Mr. Perry ‘s argument was feasible is not the take away, rather what I took away from his speech, and from the conference as a whole is that the Republican party seems to be heading in a new direction: toward a libertarian focus. This focus was highlighted by Rand Paul dominating the straw poll, receiving 31% of the votes when attendees were asked who they’d prefer as the next presidential candidate from the Republican Party. In a distant second was Ted Cruz, with 11%. That means that 42% of the crowd favored a candidate associated with libertarian values, over other candidates such as Marco Rubio or Chris Christie. My first thought was this was just a jerk reaction to recent appeals made by these two rising stars, but upon further consideration it appears clear that libertarianism is here to stay. Over 50% of the conference attendees were students, and we have grown up seeing that economic values are crucial to the success, or failures, of a nation. Every Republican meeting, dinner, fundraiser, or door knocking campaign I have been on I hear the phrase “young people are the future of this party,” and it appears clear that young people want fiscal conservatism. It will be interesting to see how this young and refreshing libertarianism attitude grows and spreads over the next year, but given the enthusiasm, passion, and vigor among the youngest and most active members of the Republican Party at CPAC I would say we are in for a transition that will test the way we view our political system.