Instead, we are now hearing from a group of predictable, hard-right-wing speakers, sprinkled with the Donald Trumps and Alan Wests of the GOP — the Gonzo Party.

It is sad to hear the CPAC conference cheer on speakers like Trump, telling us that “our country is a total mess.” It is even sadder to hear the substance of what most speakers adhere to right now.  Their economic policies would make the austerity measures that are sinking Great Britain look Keynesian.

Just consider the “new” Ryan plan, which he calls a starting point for negotiation.

In addition to his voucher system to privatize Medicare he would abolish the Affordable Care Act and eviscerate Medicaid — a great healthcare policy prescription, to be sure.

But look at his numbers to get to a so-called balanced budget: Take the individual tax rate for the wealthy down from 39 percent to 25 percent; cut the corporate tax rate; repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax.  (By the way, this plan would provide the top 1 percent of American wage earners an average break of $1.2 million, according to a Washington Post editorial.)

But here is the kicker — the cost to the federal budget over 10 years would be a whopping $5.7 trillion.

This makes Alice in Wonderland look like a historical novel.  This is a starting point for a negotiation just like a homebuyer who wants to purchase a $500,000 house and comes in offering $10,000!  

It is fine to put forward your best case for consideration, but to most Americans the Ryan Plan and the CPAC conference are just not serious.  These are not new ideas or new approaches that can be negotiated.  Sure, the Democrats put out budget ideas that the Ryans of the world don’t like, but at least the proposal is not so full of ideas that were rejected by something we call an election.

Someone needs to speak to the crowd at CPAC and tell them that centrist, reasonable, pragmatic Republicans do, in fact, exist and that the future is not determined by those in ideological straitjackets. There is a better way.

But, my guess is that no one will say it.