: "Scratch most, if not all, libertarians and you find an anarchist."
agree. In my adult life, I've gone from fiscal conservative, to libertarian, to Objectivist, to anarcho-capitalist. Anarchism (right Anarchism) is the logical conclusion of libertarian thought.
Rand Paul is not really a libertarian by any but the most inclusive definition. Ron Paul is in the GOP because he wants to change the GOP, not because he fits in there. If you want to get down to it, I believe Ron Paul would probably call himself a Voluntaryist if not for his consideration of his own personal political goals.
If Gary Johnson were elected, then he'd lead as a Republican. He was
a Republican until he was ignored by the party and left to seek a more effective forum for his ideas.
He won't be elected, though. With luck and hard work, he'll get 5%+1 of the vote, and we'll see a stronger, more vocal Libertarian Party in the 2016 presidential election. That's the real, rational goal here for the LP.
As for conviction - well, that's hard. I live in rural Arkansas, and I'm surrounded by Christian conservatives. I'm an upfront Anarcho-Capitalist, and I want to run for office - I completely understand why someone like Ron Paul would want to identify as a conservative when in reality the ideas he holds would better be described by another term. Not only is he pandering to his constituency, but the fact is, constantly defending your ideology is exhausting. I enjoy it 90% of the time, but it also pisses me off when my peers refuse to consider my ideas because they can't get over the label applied to me.