By ALEX FRIES

Presidential hopefuls, political operatives and activists, current and past elected officials and College Republicans from all over the country gathered in Maryland over the weekend for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Not only did CPAC, as in previous years, give its attendees the opportunity to hear from the presidential hopefuls in person, it also gave the presidential hopefuls a chance not only to present themselves and to fine tune their message.

While there were many incredible speakers and many more unforgettable moments at CPAC, there was one thing that was said in a small reception that resonated the most with me. Reince Priebus, the first Republican National Chairman to get elected to three consecutive terms while a Democratic president was in the White House, said that the work and time we contribute in 2015 is the success we are going to see in 2016. I agree completely with Chairman Priebus. The average American in this day and age is pre-occupied with everything other than political matters the great majority of the time. This sad fact is true for men and women of all ages. In fact, contemporary federal politics are perceived by most people as a constant partisan struggle, with no tangible solutions, and in a consistently worsening global and local economy.  It is extremely important in going forward that we, as a party, begin now to vocally present solutions to problems rather than continuing the mudslinging, which creates conflicts in people’s minds.

The way we win in 2016 is simple and straightforward; we begin now to outline the benefits of Republican policies. For too long we have been letting the liberal political apparatus paint the image of the Republican Party, it’s policies, and the people that believe in said policies and values. In the past midterm elections we have seen what happens when we share our Republican values, not as anti-this and anti-that, but as the logical and realistic alternative to the failed liberal policies of the last six years. There are numerous examples, which perfectly demonstrate how Republican values lift up the community as a whole, not just the individual. What we need in the present and in the future is not more paper work and red tape, but much rather to enable everyone to choose and pursue their own destiny without throwing obstacles in their way.  This is at the very center of what we Republicans believe and exactly what America needs — a streamlined government and enabling governmental process that encourages people to take initiative, rather than depending on government assistance.

We as a party have to realize that there is no benefit from petty internal party political games. The political games are counter productive and merely benefit the ideological opposition. They distract from the healthy and energizing internally ongoing policy debate, which makes this party one of opportunity and growth rather than stagnation and status quo. If we as the people of this Republican Party can move away from the idea that we are divided into several segments, such as moderates, establishment, conservatives and tea party; if we can come together and accept that we all have the same goal, the same vision of a better America, and that it is only nuances that divide us into these fractions, then we as Republicans not only can win in 2016, but we can make the much needed changes which will truly benefit the American people.

Let us come together now — debate, discuss, argue and work together to share our message of limited government, more freedom, and opportunity for all. Then we will see great success in 2016.