I have previously said that I would vote for Hillary Clinton if I felt she needed my vote to defeat Donald Trump, and I stand by that statement, but I’m confident she will take Minnesota and she has done nothing to win me over. I also wrote about the “major” (minor, it’s kind of like a “Jumbo Shrimp” sort of thing) third party alternatives and why none of them appealed to me. It wasn’t until after I made that post, however, that Evan McMullin entered the race on behalf of the Never Trump Movement and I’ve been thinking long and hard about what to do ever since.
I don’t care for Clinton (or The Clintons, for that matter) but I don’t see her as a grave danger to America – guilty of every crime in the book, including murder – the way the wingnuts continue to believe. The Clintons are pretty standard politicians, actually, who are simply better at playing the game than most. But why should I vote for, “The lesser of two evils?” Why shouldn’t I vote for someone and something that I can actually stand behind and feel good about?
Since we only have two major political parties in the US – two ideological tents under which all subgroups try to get along – we have to cram a great deal of disagreement into each encampment and that leads to profound arguments about what our chosen side, “stands for.” The “left” tends to argue about whether or not they should be liberals, progressives, or socialists? The “right” has a small debate between calling themselves conservatives or libertarians, and a major argument over what a “conservative” actually is. This fight has now boiling over into a major crisis for the Republican Party and the future of the American Right.
For many, Trump is a champion of, “real conservatism,” or at least a means by which real conservatives will, “Take our country back.” As I have explained before, this reactionary, nationalistic strain of right wing political thought has gone through a series of twists and turns throughout American History but it is a consistent stream, made up of fear, hate, and a reflexively anti-authority attitude that is actually very authoritarian when it comes to enforcing their dogmas. The most visceral example of this line of thinking is the Klu Klux Klan and the White Power/Pride Movement. I realize that most potential Trump Voters are not Klansman or Aryan Nation adherents – in fact they take great offense when you compare them to these groups – but their refusal to see the connection does not make it go away. It is not a random coincidence that so many hate groups actively support Trump or that they have been so vile to honorable conservatives like David French at National Review for daring to stand up against madness.
I realize that critics on the left also agree that the fascist strain of “conservatism” is the true heart of the American Right, much like critics on the right pretend that the communist strain of “liberalism” is the true heart of the American Left, but I don’t buy into the rhetoric of either extreme. I also know that, “real conservatism,” is what we make of it and now is a time for choosing. Throughout this extremely long and painful election I have stood firm in opposition to Trump and all his racist, sexist, xenophobia, conspiratorial nonsense, and downright stupidity. I have blogged about this time and time again, but that’s not enough. I am sick of laying out the case for what I abhor and need to start talking more about what I stand for.
I believe Evan McMullin feels much the same way and despite the fact that he has no reasonable chance of winning this election we do have a shot at winning the future of the Republican Party, or whatever comes after it. We can strive for a Conservative Movement that appeals to the better angels of our nature and fights to make them manifest. An optimistic, inclusive, reasonable, intelligent, mature, and patriotic conservatism that knows America has never stopped being great.
“So, who is this Evan guy, anyway?” I know that’s probably what you are thinking since he hasn’t received the kind of coverage that Gary “what’s Aleppo?” Johnson and Jill “magic trick” Stein have. Evan is a former CIA Officer and investment banker who has also worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and served as an advisor to House Republicans. He has intimate knowledge of the War on Terror (or Islamic Extremism, or whatever you feel like calling it) both in terms of killing terrorists and helping refugees. In ever interview I have see of him, he comes across as very thoughtful and empathetic. You can check out his website for his official position on major issues but to me this is all about character; his character and the character of what we want America to be.
If you watch just one interview with Evan try this one:
I don’t think you can fake what he has and it is so markedly different from the rest of the pack. This isn’t a carnival barker, class clown, career politician, or ideological zealot. This is a genuine leader. Eighteenth century figure Joseph de Maistre once famously said, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” I fear in our case he is right. Our hyperpolarized, conspiracy obsessed, self absorbed, opinion over facts, Reality TV Show, soundbite culture is stumbling around like a drunken idiot looking for his car keys. There may soon come a point at which we find them, get behind the wheel, and cross a line from which there is no coming back. Or we can chose to sober up, but it will take more than just a good night’s sleep. It will require us to actively engage in a new lifestyle. One in which we demand more of ourselves (“Ask not what your country can do for you?..“) and vote for people of substance. Men and women like Evan McMullin.