Given that the government shutdown is over and Obamacare is a disaster so far, Austin and I decided to look to the future this week. Specifically, we decided to write about who we think is the best candidate for President in 2016 on each side of the political spectrum. Austin is taking the Democrats (and we shall wait with baited breath to see who he picks), while I will discuss the Republican options. I have more choice on this side of the aisle, since for all intents and purposes Hillary has become the heir to the Democratic throne.  Without further ado, let us begin.

The Republican field is diverse, and unlike the last two elections, it is full of talented youngsters, any of whom would make a good President. For the first time since George W. Bush ran for reelection, I have hope that the Republicans might actually pick someone who can win.

Mitt Romney and John McCain were embarrassments, men who should never have been seriously considered but were chosen due to a lack of any significant alternative. Both were moderate Republicans of the northeastern country club tradition, more liberal than conservative, and both got creamed in the general election. The GOP must avoid making such a horrible selection in 2016. Instead of picking a “moderate” who can barely survive the primary process only to be eaten alive in the general elections, the Republicans must return to their base and select a genuine Conservative to lead us back to the White House.

The perfect candidate right now is Rand Paul. He’s young, smart, articulate and very conservative. He is an outsider, able to run against Washington and actually convince people of his sincerity in that regard. If anyone has a shot at fully integrating the Libertarian movement into the Republican Party, it is him. Such an action would appeal to independents and young people, allowing the GOP to scoop up more of their votes on Election Day. Above all, he is principled. His 13 hour filibuster against the use of drones against Americans earlier this year showed the country that he is willing to take a public stand for his beliefs, no matter the potential political price of doing so. Unlike Ted Cruz’s “filibuster” a couple of weeks ago, Paul’s filibuster was genuine and heartfelt, done because of a fundamental belief in the Constitution and not to score political points. Rand Paul is a candidate that would be a breath of fresh air for the GOP, which got burned badly by McCain’s and Romney’s incredibly liberal pasts in the previous two general elections.

What convinced me the most, however, that a Rand Paul candidacy would have a shot, was the reaction of one of my more liberal friends in class a few weeks ago. She worked in Washington over the summer and went to a lecture where Rand Paul was speaking. She told us she left “Terrified at my lack of fury after hearing him. He came across as very reasonable.” If Rand Paul can speak to such an educated (and liberal) person as my friend, and have them leave with the idea that his ideas are reasonable, imagine what an impact he could have on young people and undecided voters.

No candidacy is perfect, and a Rand Paul run would have some major potential problems to address if he is to be successful. First, he would most likely have to make some gesture to the center during the general campaign in order to have a good chance of winning. A candidate that chooses ideology over mass appeal will not get very far. Paul will have to find some way to reconcile his libertarian beliefs with a mass appeal campaign. His campaign will obviously be very conservative, and rightly so, but some gesture or movement towards the center is still needed to gain enough moderate and/or independent votes to win. I’m not sure how such a change could be accomplished, but I’m hopeful that he can do it.

Second, Rand Paul is a white man. The Democrats will be rallying behind Hillary and the “First Woman President” campaign, just like they did with Barack and the “First Black President” campaign in 2008. That strategy worked, and it stands to reason that it will be tried again. Despite it being a despicable lie, the Republican Party has come to be labeled as “the white man’s party”, a label from which the GOP is currently trying to extricate themselves. Another white man running for office would do little to reassure voters that such a label no longer exists.

Rand Paul can help turn the GOP in a new direction and get rid of this label by choosing Marco Rubio as his Vice President. Rubio brings many positives and few negatives to the table. He is Hispanic with an incredible personal story about the American dream, which would appeal to many Americans. He is from Florida, a vital swing state, and is a leader in immigration reform, something that would gain Hispanic support in the election due to their high interest in that issue. He is Conservative, a favorite of the GOP base, but has recently turned to the center over immigration reform, potentially widening his appeal. A Paul-Rubio ticket, in my opinion, represents the best shot the Republican Party has of beating Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Nothing is certain. Many people already look at 2016 as a foregone conclusion, with Hillary Clinton sweeping the field and reclaiming the White House. There is no question that Hillary will be tough to beat, but I believe that Rand Paul and Marco Rubio could do it. After eight years of liberalism, the Conservative standard must be raised in victory once again. A Paul-Rubio ticket could accomplish this, and through them, 2016 could be the year where the Republicans return to the White House.

Mark Besonen

Hello, my name is Mark Besonen, and I am a senior from Apple Valley, Minnesota. I am double majoring in History and Political Science, and I hope to go on to graduate school once I graduate from Concordia. Last semester, I studied abroad in Jerusalem, Israel. Politically, I am a Conservative, and I will be articulating the Conservative/Republican point of view in my blog posts. I am looking forward to writing for the Concordian this year! God Bless America! "When given the freedom to choose, people choose freedom." -Ronald Reagan.

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