I've run in three election campaigns in recent years, but I'm really new to politics. What I've learned about politics is that it's a lot like high school in some ways.
In high school students quickly sort themselves into groups by a number of factors, almost all of them superficial.
First you sort by age and grade, then by gender within the first sorting. Then you may sort by ethnic origin, skin colour, and religion. Those are all fairly superficial factors that really don't say much about the individual, except that s/he can be sorted along those lines.
It's not until you start sorting by personality, interests, abilities, and intellect, that people are given their due, and those are often overlooked because of the superficial factors. It's the superficial factors that usually lead to a hierarchical structure within a student population.
Take a look at Mitt Romney or Barak Obama, forget the skin colour and the money. Both of these men sort out well, superficially by their appearance, and because of their personalities, and abilities, I'll bet they were very popular in high school and in the upper parts of their hierarchy. They didn't have to be deep thinkers, or super intelligent, in fact that may have hurt them because they would become marginalized. That is the unfortunate truth in politics and high school, the thinkers and those that think differently become marginalized.
In fact thinking itself often becomes marginalized in politics. The truth of that statement becomes apparent whenever a politician, with perfectly good intentions, makes an economic decision based on those good intentions. Every economic decision is at the very least two sided. A decision that favours one side, always has a negative effect on the other even if its just tiny.
In high school, the popular students had little impact on the entire school body, but they ran the show, or at least the part they were permitted to run. They were admired and followed, but only controlled things like dances and some events.
It's not always the popular students that become the politicians and power-brokers, the problem is that the electorate acts as though they were back in high school. They admire and follow the politicians and the powerful based on the same set of superficial criteria they used in high school. They aren't looking for deep thinkers or the super intelligent, they're looking for the superficial person that has been properly sorted to make decisions for them based on good intentions, you know, for the common good. It's a lot like high school except its life, and not just a dance.
Dr. Ron Paul may or may not be a deep thinker, I don't know, but he does think differently. Because of that he has been marginalized since his first efforts to change government in 1988. Yet here he is near the end of his political life, and according to Brian Doherty, Dr. Paul is succeeding without winning.