The biggest problem I feel facing the Republican Party in 2016 is 2012.
Remember the Debates? Thoughtful, compassionate crowds in attendance. One booed an active duty, deployed service member for being Gay. Another booed Ron Paul as they cheered "let him die" concerning a hypothetical thirty year old stroke victim that was uninsured.
As it looks now the potential candidates will make the 2012 crew look thoughtful, reasoned and statesmen like.
Let's look at the Freshman Senator from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Dr. Rand Paul.
He is the son of Ron Paul, the darling of campus Libertarians(Mostly on his stance on legalizing Marijuana)
Rand was elected in 2010 during the Tea Party wave.
He immediately went on the Rachel Maddow show and stuck his foot in his mouth. He postulated that the Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional because it forced businesses not to discriminate. It was a Federal Government intrusion into the ownership and use of private property. Newly elected Senator Paul felt the free market was better suited to ending segregation than Government fiat. He said that people who didn't agree with banning African Americans from public establishments would cease supporting those businesses. This would force free market adjustments ending the practice to maintain profitability. This was going so very well in the Sixties. If Woolworth's was still in business we could ask how that was working out. Those lunch counters were the picture of progressive America.
Senator Paul has made it a point to push his brand of Libertarianism into the workings of the Senate, a place where change is not a very welcome visitor.
Paul did an actual 13 hour talking filibuster(which made the GOP nervous in case it created a new precedent). It was sort of about the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director. He used this to also push his opposition to domestic use of drones on US citizens. As a politician he exaggerated the effect.
Rand Paul is an opponent of Foreign Aid and expounds an isolationist view of the American role in the world. This has caused clashes with more militarily aggressive Republican Senators like John McCain(R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham(R-SC). It has also attracted support from the Unicorn /Emo wing of the Left.
Senator Paul has been visiting the early primary States lately building support for a possible 2016 run. He is hoping to draw on and solidify his father's 2012 base and fundraising channels.Yes, I know it's early. Hell we just had an election last November. It appears the silly season of Republican Presidential hopefuls has started extremely early. This may have the benefit of an early self immolation of nascent GOP hopefuls.
Now he has joined the Senate reactionary push to shut down the Federal Government over defunding the Affordable Care Act. Like his Senatorial cohorts he feels the Democrats and The President will take the political heat for GOP extortion.
There are downsides to Rand Paul's chances.
Only one sitting Senator has been elected President since John Kennedy did it in 1960. That's right it was Senator Barack Obama. After a forty eight year hiatus it may not be extremely likely to happen again so soon.
Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Dem nominee. It is hers to win or lose. Her debate skills are well known. As an Opthamologist Senator Paul's debating skills are suspect. Smart money would be on him getting hammered by Hillary.
His anti immigration stance will likely hurt him with Hispanics. His free market civil rights stance may increase turnout in a general election by concerned African Americans.
His dislike of Social Security and Medicare as they currently exist may hurt his chances with Seniors. He is also not a fan of the safety net. That and his not viewing Women's issues as freedom issues won't help close the GOP's gender gap.
Senator Paul is being touted as a strong candidate by pundits right and left even though he has only won one election. This only helps candidates remaining in the background. Guy's like Governors John Kasich and Scott Walker.
Both are experienced Executives of large States. Both are honing their national images as pro life, union busters to appeal to the rabid right base.
The next three years wil be interesting. Like the Chinese curse interesting.