Evan McMullin’s campaign kick-off speech in Salt Lake City, UT.

Evan McMullin campaign kick-off Salt Lake City

This election has been defined by the truly awful choice placed before voters by the two major political parties.

Hillary Clinton has a history of corruption and dishonesty going back decades. Her mishandling of classified data would have landed any other person in jail. She took part in a massive lie to the American people about the cause of the Benghazi attacks and lied to the family members of those killed.

The Republicans have offered Donald Trump, a man who could at best be viewed as an ignorant and ill-prepared blowhard and also an unprincipled and unreliable charlatan.  At his very worst, he represents a dangerous authoritarianism that is more fitting to 1930s Europe than to the American Republic.

I understand the perspective of those who view this as a binary election and have decided Mrs. Clinton is so dangerous to the country that they are willing to play Russian roulette with the country’s future and support Mr. Trump. I also understand the perspective of those who have concluded Hillary Clinton is a better choice than Trump because a Clinton presidency couldn’t be worse than giving control of seven thousand nuclear weapons to a thin-skinned narcissistic sociopath with delusions of grandeur.

Both Clinton and Trump would be disastrous for our country, both are completely unacceptable. There is no good choice and no right answer if the only options are Clinton or Trump. Thankfully, America has other options. While the chances of anyone other than Clinton or Trump being elected are thin, it is far wiser for both this election and the future of the Republic to choose someone who is sane, honest, competent, and capable of serving as Commander-in-Chief.

At the end of the day, I decided independent candidate Evan McMullin is the best candidate to lead our nation for the next four years. He possesses virtue and character that many conservatives consider passé in 2016 but which are vital to our nation’s future. He also has a chance, admittedly a slight one, of stopping both Trump and Clinton.

The biggest knock on McMullin’s candidacy is that, if he were a serious candidate, he would have announced far sooner: in the GOP Primaries or certainly far earlier in summer than he did. Yet, it’s because McMullin is a serious person that he didn’t announce sooner.  Like millions of other Americans, he hoped someone with greater experience, financial resources, and name recognition would enter the race.

Yet 2016 is a year of disenchantment with conservative political elites in response to the age of Trump. Many were busy bowing the knee to Trump. Others such as Mitt Romney, warned of the dangers of a Trump presidency, but were totally ineffectual in doing anything to prevent it even though they were fully capable of launching a campaign against Trump. The fear of failing and being the scapegoat for Clinton’s election kept many would be candidates on the sideline.

McMullin was like David arriving to find no one willing to fight Goliath. He rose up to the challenge to provide conservatives a respectable and honorable choice to support this fall.  In doing so, he ended a promising career as a congressional staffer and destroyed any hope of a political career he might have in the Republican Party. However, given the choice between sacrificing his personal comfort and allowing Trump and Clinton be unchallenged by a credible candidate, the choice was clear.

This fits the pattern of his life of putting others first. Most of his adult life has been spent in service to others. After serving as a missionary for his church and working as a refugee resettlement officer for the United Nations, he began a decade of undercover work for the CIA. After getting his Master’s Degree and spending two years as an investment banker, he accepted a job as a staffer for the House Foreign Affairs committee and then became Policy Director for the House Republicans in 2015.

In the era of Trump, McMullin is a breath of fresh air.  Trump gushes over the “strength” demonstrated by dictators like Vladimir Putin, Saddam Hussein, Benito Mussolini, and the Communist Chinese when they commit atrocities and crush human rights to shore up their own regimes. McMullin meanwhile is a modern day, real life Jefferson Smith who spends many evenings thinking and reflecting at our nation’s monuments, and is inspired by the examples of Lincoln and our nation’s founders.

Trump offers the machismo of the tough guy demagogue shouting behind the podium, while Evan McMullin offers the true courage of a man who has put his life on the line to protect the American people.

On foreign policy, McMullin speaks with the authority of a man who has fought the War on Terror personally. In addition, McMullin has a firm grasp of the challenges facing our country, as well as, a calm and resolute manner that shows he has the maturity and wisdom to provide our nation steady and principled leadership as Commander-in-Chief.

On domestic policy, McMullin is solidly pro-life. He supports religious liberty and respects our nation’s founding documents in a way Trump and Clinton don’t.  While Trump and Clinton desire more power for the Executive branch, McMullin does not an advocate for an Imperial presidency. He seeks to return power the Executive branch has usurped from Congress to the legislative branch and to return power the federal government has usurped to the states.

More than that, McMullin has a great love for our country and all of its people. The last two decades have seen the temperature in our political debate rise off the charts. Trump and Clinton deepen the political divisions and the mistrust people have of the government—and of their fellow citizens. McMullin’s view of this country and his basic decency would  offer us a better direction.

There are some issues on which I disagree with McMullin. He believes conservatives shouldn’t seek to overturn the unconstitutional Obergefell Supreme Court decision, which purported to make same sex marriage a constitutional right. However, I’m heartened by his strong support for religious liberty and the fact he’ll appoint strict constructionist judges. In addition, I disagree with McMullin’s opposition to the death penalty.

However, contrary to the narrative of Trump supporters about #NeverTrump voters, I’m not looking for perfection.  I’m looking for someone fit to lead our nation. McMullin is a conservative. More importantly for this election, he believes in the Constitution and the ideas that are at the core of our country. He has offered unselfish and distinguished service to our Country and shown himself far more worthy of leading our country and its armed forces than either of the major party candidates. In this election, he represents our best chance for sanity and decency in the White House.

McMullin has the best chance of any third party candidate to win the Presidency. Supporters of Governor Gary Johnson point to the fact he is on the ballot in all fifty states. The Libertarians have mastered ballot access, but this has little to do with Johnson’s chance for the Presidency unless Johnson supporters want to argue that he has a path to winning 270 electoral votes.

The only realistic path for a third party candidate to triumph would be to stop both Clinton and Trump from receiving the 270 electoral votes needed to win the Presidency and thus throw the election into the House of Representatives. Once thrown into the House, where the Republicans are expected to maintain control, the third party ticket would need to get enough Republican Congressmen to vote for them on the first ballot to stop Trump from winning a majority of state delegations in the House, and then be able to hold on to those members and gain more support as the balloting went on until he had a majority of state delegations supporting him.

Even if Johnston, Stein, or Castle were to win a state, is there any chance House Republicans would hand them the Presidency? I think not. As the former policy director for House Republicans, McMullin is the only third party candidate that could potentially sway enough Congressmen to succeed. Given Speaker Ryan’s lukewarm backing of Trump and his willingness to let members of Congress “vote their conscience,” on this election, McMullin has a chance of prevailing if this reaches the House.

It is a long shot that either major party candidate will be stopped from reaching 270 electoral votes even if McMullin manages to carry a state or two.  The House could end up electing either the winner of the popular vote or the candidate closest to 270.  Getting the election thrown into the House is the only shot we have at avoiding the horrible prospects of a Trump or Clinton presidency.

If McMullin loses, his campaign is helping lay the groundwork for a new conservative party. Such a party will be necessary if Trump wins. A Republican Party in the thrall of Donald Trump is a Republican Party that is on the verge of oblivion.  A new party may still be necessary if Trump loses. Reince Priebus’s threats to punish former candidates who haven’t endorsed Trump may signal the willingness of some who’ve supported Trump to continue to litigate this election even after it’s over rather than trying to heal wounds. Beyond that, the GOP’s nomination of Trump may turn out to have irreparably damaged its standing and credibility thus making it an unviable political party.

For these reasons, I will cast my vote for Evan McMullin for the Presidency of the United States.

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