follow the figurehead or follow principle
People who like Joe Arpaio do so because crossing a perceived liberal
establishment is more important to them than any values of their own.
The simple question is do you follow a politician out of principle or because of whom the politician has antagonized? Do you embrace a set of policies because of the politician involved? How much of your political activity is dependent on the names involved? This could just as easily be referring to Ron Paul or Justin Amash or anyone.
I have seen it apply to people’s mental image of Barry Goldwater, whose views as he got older were in some instances contrary to when he was a Republican candidate for President. Either way it means herds of sheep, men not guided by their own integrity but by weird hero worship.