Sometimes a charismatic leader, one who can inspire people with his wisdom and force of personality, can win people over simply by arguing with logic and wit.
But as often as not, it seems that people arrive by their political viewpoints through close contact of a more negative kind. A teenager exposed to a lot of limousine liberals is more likely to end up conservative; likewise, a teenager whose early life is governed by repressive religious types is far more likely to end up with liberal sympathies.
Witnessing dishonesty and hypocrisy firsthand can very effectively send someone running to another viewpoint.
Case in point: in 2008 the Republican Party was on its knees, but Barack Obama has singlehandedly restored its viability.
The American electorate heard Obama say there would be no more business as usual in Washington, and no more earmarks in his bills, then saw him sign a $787 billion stimulus bill which was basically nothing but earmarks for Democratic politicians. Obama promised transparent negotiations for health care; the public then witnessed a series of sleazy backroom deals. Obama campaigned as the post-partisan President, but has governed as a hyper-partisan one. He said he planned to nominate a Supreme Court Justice who would interpret the Constitution strictly and not legislate from the bench, then picked Sonia Sotomayor. He said there would be no lobbyists in his administration.....the list goes on, no need to belabor it here.
Obama's style of governing has been so illuminative that even moderate Republican candidates have been shoved aside in this primary season by more conservative candidates.
Ronald Reagan has often been called the father of modern conservatism. And he was, for a while. But no longer.
Now it is Barack Obama.
If the Tea Partiers were honest they would hang a framed photo of Obama at their national headquarters and label it "Our Founding Father."