What started as an Obama nominee filibuster has split the Republican Party in two. The principal combatants being Senator John McCain representing the imperialist faction and Senator Rand Paul representing the libertarian faction. The battle could determine the future of American foreign policy and civil liberties.

The dispute got personal with Senator McCain calling Senator Paul a member of the “wacko birds caucus.” And it appears Senator Paul used his time at CPAC yesterday to fire back.

The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered. I don’t think we need to name any names, do we? Our party is encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom. The new GOP will need to embrace liberty in both the economic and the personal sphere. If we’re going to have a Republican party that can win, liberty needs to be the backbone of the GOP. We must have a message that is broad, our vision must be broad, and that vision must be based on freedom.

Hard not to see that as a swipe at McCain who was, after all, the party’s nominee for president in 2008. And at 76 is no rolling stone.

After being crushed in two consecutive presidential elections the Republican Party has no choice but to reform itself. But of all the changes to policy that seemed likely it would have been hard to predict civil liberties would have been the place to start. Immigration liberalization was the best bet given that the Hispanic vote was so crucial in 2008 and 2012 or even a more moderate stance on taxes and public investment. Yet the first shot has been fired and the battlefield is over drones and civil liberties. 2016 could be a very interesting year.