Unlike Rand Paul, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker does not believe the GOP needs an ideological update. Unlike Marco Rubio, he doesn’t represent a more inclusive future for the party. Unlike Jeb Bush, he is not a known member of the Bush family.

That just about makes him the most natural candidate for the GOP in 2016. He fought in deep-blue Wisconsin on core conservative movement values — and he won. Finally, here is a true believer who is also competent at politicking and governing.

At least that’s the pitch that's being made this week, as Walker enjoys his first wave of 2016 buzz. It also puts him in a position to be the hero of a story conservatives tell about themselves.

America’s different ideological camps all use stories to explain where the country is today and why. Many progressives think things have generally just gotten worse, in all ways but social issues. Since the rise of Nixon and later Reagan, they see right-wing triumph everywhere. Tax rates falling, welfare rolls slashed, wages stagnating, inequality increasing, Koch brothers smiling. Obama appealed powerfully to liberals, and the 00’s “netroots” in particular, because he was cast as a transformational president like Reagan.

The conservative movement’s narrative is one of frustration. Liberal ideas are proven failures. Where conservative ideas have been tried, they have flourished: look at broken-windows policing in New York City, or the light-touch regulatory burden that makes Houston a magnet for middle-income families. More and more Americans call themselves conservatives. And conservatives have generally been good at putting Republicans in positions of power.

But instead of a massive downsizing of Washington to Swiss canton–size, the presidents conservatives elect sign stuff like The Americans with Disabilities Act, or Medicare Part D. They work with Teddy Kennedy on No Child Left Behind. These laws not only expand the reach of the federal government, but invite further liberal expansion in efforts like ObamaCare or Common Core.

Why? Some conservatives blame a Beltway culture of lobbyists and influence-peddling. Others cite a lack of courage and conviction. They say we need a “true conservative,” but with the stones to win.

This is where Scott Walker saunters in and casually tosses his cape over his shoulder. His “budget repair bill” was not just a conservative tweak of the tax code — it was a very canny effort to weaken public-sector unions in Wisconsin. Many were predicting that Wisconsin’s strong labor heritage, combined with a public backlash against Walker’s confrontational politics, would unseat him. Instead, he became the first governor in American history to survive a recall.

His story fits right into that self-flattering conservative narrative of frustration. Walker didn’t try to charm Wisconsin’s liberal establishment with some Kenny G-soft-jazz conservatism; he threw liberals into a dark cramped room and turned Metallica up to 11. He stood for what the movement believed in, and he won not just an election, but a structural reform of Wisconsin’s politics that tips the game-board in a conservative direction. He expanded school-choice initiatives. He did not set up an ObamaCare exchange in Wisconsin, rejecting federal dollars. He signed a Voter ID law. And then he won re-election in a state that went for Obama by 7 points.

This is the story that “movement” people of any type like to hear: if you show your backbone, explain yourself clearly and loudly, the people will rally behind you.

This isn’t to say that Walker doesn’t have challenges. Although the conservative movement’s views are widely shared across the party, the movement is not identical to the GOP. National parties tend to be more forgiving of (and even anxious to have) an unorthodox candidate after eight years of exile from the White House. This leaves an opening for a Jeb Bush, or if every butterfly across the globe flaps just right, a Rand Paul.

Walker has deficiencies of charm and geography compared to Marco Rubio. The Floridian senator is not only a more attractive stage presence, but far more likely to drag his state into the red column in a 2016 race. Rubio also at least provides the hope of moving the needle among non-Republican demographics in a way that Walker does not.

But after the 2010 and 2014 elections, the GOP may settle on a story that Romney was uniquely charmless and Obama uniquely charmed, and that the only change the party needs is a leader from the Republican wing of the Republican Party. Walker fits that bill.