It is now clear, after the CPAC convention, that the battle for the soul of the Republican Party is, most likely, to be between Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Cruz represents the aggressive, in your face, bombastic image of the Tea Party, while Paul represents the libertarian, isolationist view of the same Tea Party.
Both hate the national government, and both want to cut domestic social spending, and have no desire to deal with the problems of the working class and the poor.
Both want to undermine the GOP establishment, and work against the idea of working with President Obama, and accepting that part of politics is negotiation and compromise.
Both men have very little ability to win a national election, as both are seen as extreme, and unable to take “Blue” states away from the Democrats.
Both appeal to those who want to put America back in the age of laissez faire of the Gilded Age, and want to assist the one percent who have become more wealthy and powerful at the expense of the middle class.
Cruz has a demagogic manner about him, reminding many of Joseph McCarthy in appearance and style, but he is seen as dangerous because despite his egotism, he is clearly very smart. However, he is willing to throw other Republicans “under the bus”, with his working against fellow Texas Senator John Cornyn, and also resisting Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as attacking past Republican Presidential nominees Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. Cruz has no ethics when it comes to pursuing his own ambitions, and he is extremely vain and arrogant. Imagining him dealing with foreign leaders is an absolute horror!
Paul, on the other hand, supports the idea that businesses should be able to reject customers based on race, being critical of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He is a libertarian like his dad, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, and believes that philosophy is realistic in the 21st century. He would love to cut defense spending enough so that we would withdraw from many of our bases around the world , an appealing idea, but not a realistic one. He comes across as more a visionary than Cruz, more pleasant than Cruz, willing to give respect to the elder statesmen of the party, and work with Establishment Republicans in the Senate, while disagreeing with them. He seems, overall, not as bright and ambitious as Cruz is.
Both are horrible choices for President, and both would lose, but the feeling is that Cruz is more of a threat, although the belief is that he would crash and burn, once the election campaign was in full swing. It seems likely that Paul would do better in electoral votes, and would be more liked personally, but still could not win a national election.
The ultimate question is why the Republican Party seems incapable of finding a truly great Presidential candidate, although in the long run, that does not matter as the Electoral College math dooms them in 2016, as long as they continue to alienate many major voting groups.
So the decline of the GOP, by a massive electoral defeat in 2016, seems more likely as the clock ticks toward the election year!