Elections are normally a contest of ideas where candidates speak of the greatness of America and how they will keep the country moving forward. They use soaring oratory delivered in an inspirational style that lifts us all up. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama all captured the hearts and minds of Americans as they secured two terms in the White House.
Unfortunately, 2016 has presented us with two candidates who do no such thing. One, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, seeks the presidency because it is “her turn” and does so without offering the slightest mention of a plan or message for voters to rally behind.
With voters as enthusiastic about her candidacy as a colonoscopy, Clinton should be losing this race, but she’s not. Instead, she has lucked out and been given the gift of Donald Trump, whose temperament, judgment, grasp of the issues, and values make him wholly unsuited for the presidency. Trump’s shortcomings, too numerous to detail here, are ones that make Clinton look like Abraham Lincoln in comparison. Yet, of course, she is not.
In May, I wrote in The New York Daily News that Donald Trump was so dangerous and unacceptable as a candidate, that barring the entry of a credible third-party contender, I would be voting for Hillary Clinton. In the ensuing months, both Gary Johnson and Jill Stein demonstrated that they were far from serious presidential candidates. So, it was only natural that when Evan McMullin entered the field that I, like many other Americans, viewed him with a healthy amount of skepticism.
Since the first day of his campaign, Evan McMullin has shown himself to be razor sharp, well-versed on the issues, and principled. More importantly, McMullin is the only presidential candidate that is putting forth a positive vision for America that appeals to our better angels. It is a shining light in the darkness and ugliness that 2016 has brought about.
It has been distressing to see how a particular candidate has empowered groups that are outside of the mainstream. Most striking has been the rise of white nationalists who prefer the moniker of “alt-right.” For them, Donald Trump is a hero fighting for “white rights” and pushing back the “foreign hordes” — aka, those who are different.
Their embrace of hatred and racism has not been chastised by Trump, but allowed to fester with multiple winks and nods to their hateful movement. Last week, Trump went as far as to attack Clinton in terms that made Jews shudder: “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty.” As Politico’s Ben White noted, it’s “fascist code for ‘Jews.'”
The alt-right is a malignant cancer on our values and country. The United States has no room for people with such hate in their hearts.
Evan McMullin has also empowered many of his supporters, but done so in a positive and productive manner. His backers are uniting to express their desire to see conservatism and the Republican Party evolve and modernize. They seek to have their voices and beliefs heard, especially by Republican leadership and Trump, as they are part of an ever-increasing number of Americans that believe the Republican Party has lost its way and is due for a course correction.
We must be honest with ourselves, though. The chances of Evan McMullin being elected to the presidency are slimmer than Anna Kendrick asking me out on a date. (Anna, if you’re reading, I would say yes.)
However, a vote for Evan McMullin is not a wasted vote, but a strong message about the future of the GOP and conservatism. It tells people like Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus that there are consequences for enabling candidates like Trump. It tells Vichy Republicans that hate and bigotry is not welcome in the party of Lincoln. It tells the world that conservatives, despite the caricature of us perpetuated by the left, are tolerant and good to the core.
Over the next few months and perhaps even the next few years, conservatives will be forced to answer the question of what direction they want our party to go. I have long advocated that in order to survive, the Republican Party must become appealing to millennials and urban voters. Should we not, our ability to be an effective majority party will be imperiled. It’s a situation where alarm bells should be going off among every person who cares about the GOP and conservatism.
One person who does understand this very real problem is Evan McMullin. He recognizes that conservatism needs to grow and expand in order to reach new audiences. His campaign is about doing these very things. We might not agree on every issue, but we respect one another when we disagree. That’s a character trait that appeals to me as a millennial and as a person who believes in tolerance and working together for the common good of the United States of America.
On November 8, I will be voting for Evan McMullin because being able to vote for somebody as opposed to against somebody matters. Tolerance matters. Principles matter. Sending a strong message about who we are as conservatives matters.
A vote for Evan McMullin matters.