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You win or you die: The Republican Game of Thrones

By Kevin Rogers

Thousands of conservatives descended on National Harbor, Maryland for this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, granting a platform to a number of Republican lords and lunatics.

Among the array of speakers stand the wannabe kings of the Republican Party with their eyes on the White House’s throne in 2016.

In Game of Thrones, five kings battle to take control of the Iron Throne of Westeros, each thinking he (or she) would be the best ruler.

The Iron ThroneCC--Votaris

The Iron Throne

Despite the absence of beheading in current politics, The Nerds of Congress found striking parallels between these realities and their warring kings…

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan is Stannis Baratheon

Paul RyanCC- U.S. Congress

Paul Ryan
CC- U.S. Congress

Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate, stands in for Stannis, the brother of the deceased King Robert Baratheon. Stannis is the rightful heir to the throne, but doesn’t inspire the passion that other leaders can.

Ryan lost some of his conservative thunder with the flailing Romney campaign and a Jan. 1 approval of tax hikes. However, he still boasts strong support, running second in a recent Republican primary poll.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is Renly Baratheon

Marco RubioCC-Gage Skidmore

Marco Rubio
CC-Gage Skidmore

Marco Rubio represents Renly Baratheon, the younger brother of Stannis. He’s younger, more popular and more charismatic than Stannis but lacks the experience. His advisers tell him he’ll be a good king, and he runs with it.

Rubio has the youth, likeability and charisma, but he needs to prove himself on policy in the next few years. Per the latest PPP poll, he leads the pack of rumored contenders.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is Robb Stark

Rand PaulCC- U.S. Senate

Rand Paul
CC- U.S. Senate

Rand Paul and Robb Stark are both sons of former lords. Ron Paul left politics, and Ned Stark lost his head. Robb seeks an independent kingdom, not necessarily the Iron Throne; he fights to upset the establishment. He’s young, but he quickly his father’s followers.

Likewise, Paul has based much of his Senate career on angering established Republicans in Washington. He aims to transform the party to embrace libertarian values, including a more restrained foreign policy. His recent drone filibuster helped to engage his father’s base, and his stock is rising for 2016.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is Daenerys Targaryen

Jeb BushCC--The World Affairs Council

Jeb Bush
CC–The World Affairs Council

Jeb, brother to George W. Bush and son of George H.W. Bush, serves as the real-life Daenerys Targaryen. Daenerys feels she’s entitled to be queen. Her father ruled as a tyrant, and her family ran Westeros for centuries. Of course, the people of Westeros may not be ready for another Targaryen.

Jeb finds himself in the same boat. He certainly has the credentials to lead, serving two terms in Florida. However, his last name poses a challenge to his national viability. However, party insiders think he would make a formidable candidate in 2016.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is Balon Greyjoy

Chris ChristieCC--David Shankbone

Chris Christie
CC–David Shankbone

Christie stands in for Balon Greyjoy, the ornery lord of the Iron Islands. Greyjoy doesn’t much care for the other lords vying for the Iron Throne. He’s driven by ambition and doesn’t care who he pisses off along the way.

Likewise Christie is brash, combative and frequently peeves Republicans. He didn’t make the guest list for CPAC, and he has the lowest favorability among the party base, per the PPP poll. That said, he remains a serious contender for 2016.

Deposing Joffrey

In Game of Thrones, these kings aim to depose the psychotic tyrant King Joffrey.

These Republicans contend with overthrowing the lingering tyranny of presidential failures in 2008 and 2012.  Even three years out, these contenders must weight their options and prepare for a fight.

When you play the Republican game of thrones, you win or you die.


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