We laugh at independents because we know that most Americans have taken one side or the other, and use that idea set as common ground with others to drum up public support for their businesses, personalities, films and books. You can convince anyone you’re a friendly good guy by being liberal and permissive, or convince those experienced enough to be cynical that you’re a realist by drawing a clear line between what’s acceptable and not. It’s more than a political view; it’s a definition of your personality, and a reflection of the audience to which you want to appeal. In a more cynical statement, we want liberal neighbors and conservative bankers and lawyers, because those are the personalities who either leave us alone or work carefully with our money, respectively.
With this in mind, Paul’s success is nothing short of amazing. Candidates like Nader and Badnarik appeal to a small few who are already alienated, but scare off most voters because the single-minded single-solution approach they have taken does not address a range of problems. Paul took basic conservative values, and applied to them a traditionalist twist as interpreted through the mechanism of modern libertarianism. He is both recognizably part of something we would like, which is a solid and moral conservative leader, and a bridge to a new way of thinking about government.
How Ron Paul Changed Conservatism