Every year, conservatives waste time and energy debating the point of attending CPAC. We have this obsession with debating why we’re all here. Debate? Solidarity? Passing judgment on the presidential prospects?

No one really knows. And that’s okay.

It’s okay because, for better or for worse, everyone comes to CPAC for different reasons. Those who don’t find much relevance tucked within the many layers of the conference have stopped attending; those who enjoy attending speeches sit in the ballroom and listen to speeches; up and comers who need a leg up take every opportunity to network (and rub elbows at the bar.)

I’ve previously said that we’re already well into the 2016 election cycle; gatherings like CPAC throw into full relief the fractured nature of the conservative movement, and the Republican party at large. Walking around, I’ve run into tea partiers, libertarians, establishment Republicans, college Republicans, disaffected Republicans, and everyone in between—but I’m still not sure the various factions of whatever sort of gathering this is truly recognize the nature of the movement they’re a part of.

Republicans’ greatest challenge in 2016 will be controlling the narrative—on both sides of the aisle.

The reality of the situation is that we will never come to a consensus about “what it means to be a conservative.” We will never be able to float, vet, and select a candidate that makes everyone happy. We will never stop disagreeing about which leg of the three-legged stool should or should not be sacrificed when push comes to shove during an election cycle.

Rinse and repeat. It’s never going to happen.

2016 is going to be a huge year for Republicans of all shapes and sizes. Obama’s Administration has gone from “groundbreaking,” to bad, to one of the worst in history, which means that the eventual democrat candidate for president is going to serve as a proverbial punching bag for Republicans who have 8 years worth of failed policies to back their attacks.

8 years worth of failed policies, and an increasingly diverse, dynamic, and growing base.

I believe that we can work under a big tent without compromising conservative values. It can and will happen—just ask the white, black, Latino, Asian, straight, gay, young, and old people who descended upon Washington D.C. because they care about making sure that their viewpoints are heard—if not folded into—the greater 2016 Republican platform.

This, of course, is the real point of CPAC—sit. Listen. Learn. None of those things require compromise; all they require is the willingness to break free from the idea that if we don’t conform to a bullet point strategy, conservatism is doomed to bleed upon the altar of creeping progressivism.