“There is Another Choice” A Report on the Evan McMullin Kick-off

 

imageI’ve been a NeverTrumper for nearly a year now. The day Senator Ted Cruz dropped out, I began searching for a candidate who wasn’t merely the least-evil, but whose candidacy advocated for policies I support. I flirted with the Libertarians, but found Gary Johnson lacking, especially on religious liberties.* The other libertarians I hear from keep doing the best they can to convince me they aren’t really serious.

Then came the Constitution Party. They were very friendly, even going so far as to invite me to attend their state committee meeting. But I had some major questions about their party platform, especially on foreign policy. I asked a few questions at the committee meeting, and was promised their vice presidential candidate, Scott Bradley, would answer me personally. (This was the genesis for a solicitation of questions post I wrote back in May; nothing happened with it because Bradley never called, despite five promises from the state chair that he would). Bradley, after all, was the best qualified person to answer my questions. At the state party meeting one of the committee members actually asked one of my questions to the Party’s chair — “What’s our position on Israel?” — and the chair didn’t know the answer. They had to look it up. Answer: “We don’t want any foreign entanglements; Israel is perfectly capable of taking care of itself if the US just stays out of its way.” By mid-June I was convinced I’d be leaving my vote for president this year blank. But then Monday arrived, with the surprise announcement of an Independant run from Evan McMullin.

Now, I didn’t know McMullin from Fred Cooper Ronaldson (a name I made up just now), but his Open Letter to America said things I’d been thinking. I read his interview with National Review and watched his appearance on Fox News opposite Rudy Gulianni. For a new-comer to the public eye, he was making quite a splash. I visited his website and read his positions on a handful of issues. (They’re a little brief right now, but I’m told they will be fleshed out in the coming few weeks). I liked a lot of what I read, but I still wasn’t convinced. Was he in this to play the spoiler? How much of this does he actually believe and what’s there for political expediency? How much of my liking him comes from my distaste for the other candidates and how much is because he actually represents my values and positions?

I wanted answers to those questions. So when I heard that Mr. McMullin was holding his Kick-off Event in Salt Lake City last night, I found a way to be there.

A little before 6:30 PM, the doors opened. As we entered the building, a long table covered with ballot-access petitions separated us from the doorway to the stairs that led up to the third floor loft where the event would be held. Almost everyone in line was more than happy to sign. By my guess is that they gathered around 250 signatures last night (with only 1,000 needed, total, in the state of Utah to be on November’s ballot) and had a little over 300 in attendance.

Upstairs, cameras from the local news stations and an Internet live-stream stood, forming — with the walls and stage — a bull-pen for the gathering crowd. While waiting for the event to start, I spoke with two gentlemen in white shirts and ties. Both had been at their respective workplaces when they saw an announcement about the event, one on Facebook just an hour before, the other on TV earlier in the day. I asked them why they’d come. The first said, “I’m just hoping for anything better than Trump and Hillary.” The other nodded in agreement. Had either of them looked at other parties? “I have,” said the second. He’d spent a lot of time with Johnson and, he said, “In many ways Trump’s better than Johnson, especially on drugs and religion.”

McMullin’s state campaign manager took the stage and led the gathering in the Pledge of Allegience. After thanking us for coming, he said, “You are the rock being thrown into the water.” The one that will ripple throughout the nation, telling everyone, “We will not accept unacceptable candidates.” He introduced McMullin with much of the same bio I’d read on the campaign website, but with a few personal flourishes, as they’ve known each other since college.

Then McMullin himself came to the podium. After what was, in my opinion, some quite humble words of gratitude for his family and friends who were present, he spoke a bit about the whirlwind that had begun following Monday’s announcement. He gave a few statistics: In the 24 hours after the announcement, they had 60,000 volunteers signed up with the campaign nation-wide and were on track to double that shortly (I can’t read my notes for certain). Google had called to let the campaign know McMullin was being googled more than Trump. (That doesn’t surprise me very much; people already know who Trump is).

Here are a few quotes from his speech that resonated the most with me:

[We need government that] can be more responsive and accountable to the American people so that it listens better to the American people.

Liberty, tolerance, and decency are still basic core ideals of this great nation.

“This good will [with the other countries of the world] is such a vital source of American strength that we cannot allow it to be destroyed by politicians or other personalities.”

And we know that we can defeat Islamist terrorism without violating our ideals. Indeed, we must.

image

After his remarks, McMullin worked the crowd, taking individual questions from anyone willing to stay around. Here’s a sampling, based on my hasty scribbling:

Q: Would you support an amendment to repeal the direct election of senators and put the power of the senate back under state control?

A: [This is a compilation of my notes on answers to a handful of other questions, all of which came together again in McMullins’s answer to the question above] The biggest concern I have is the concentration of power in Washington. There is no reason in a country this size — especially when we already have state governments so close to the people — for the details of our lives to be dictated at a federal level. [Repealing the 17th Amendment may be a good idea at some point, but first] I want to look at some other ideas coming out of the states, one of which is proposed by your congressional leaders here in Utah, and would let the Senate override executive orders. […] The biggest problem in the country today is that people don’t feel like they’re being heard [by their government] and if we just push the power out of Washington and get it back to the states, that problem goes away.

Q: As a former CIA guy, where do you stand on the government collection of data?

A: We need to find a balance on all of these technologies, and I think it’s a balance that can be found. [For example] with the government collection of metadata, the phone companies have to store it, then, if the government has a reason to look at it, they can get a warrant and go to the phone company for it.

During part of McMullin’s time working the crowd, I listened to his campaign manager talk about some of the campaign logistics. They’ve started petition drives in every state where that’s still possible. In two other states, Better For America got on the ballot as a political party before the filing deadline, and McMullin will be their candidate. In a small handful of other states, their campaign is partnering with smaller parties that already are on the ballot. He said that with those states alone it’s possible (but not probable) to get 270 electoral votes. They’ll be filing legal challenges in the states where the filing deadline has already passed.

He also said that all of the positions on their website were McMullins’s own and not those of Better For America or any of their other campaign partners.

As I left the rally, I took one more good look at McMullin as he continued talking with the stragglers and asked myself, if he’s someone I can see as president. He’s definitely more much more presidential than either Trump or Clinton. But without that comparison? Do I see eye-to-eye with him on policy and principle?

I can’t answer that for certain yet, but I’m more inclined to say “yes” tonight than I was even a few hours ago.

—–

*Yes, I know about Johnson’s about-face Op-Ed on religion. I haven’t decided which of Johnson’s opinions we’d actually get, yet. Either it was a huge flip-flop or Gov. Johnson is an absolutely terrible political communicator.

There are 52 comments.

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  1. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Austin Murrey:

    Jamie Lockett:Its rather ironic that people who claim that Trump represents a group of people ignored by their political leaders are now lambasting those people who have decided that the political leaders are ignoring them.

    I think it’s kind of funny the shoe’s on the other foot for both sides this election actually.

    I want it known that I liked both this comment and Jamie’s.

    • #31
  2. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Austin Murrey:

    Jamie Lockett:Its rather ironic that people who claim that Trump represents a group of people ignored by their political leaders are now lambasting those people who have decided that the political leaders are ignoring them.

    I think it’s kind of funny the shoe’s on the other foot for both sides this election actually.

    I want it known that I liked both this comment and Jamie’s.

    What can I say? I find irony funny when it isn’t happening to me.

    • #32
  3. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    crocodile

    That’s not a choice …

    • #33
  4. Painter Jean Member
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    I just don’t understand all this belated recrimination. It’s done, it’s over, he is our nominee.

    It’s not belated for me — I’ve been of the opinion  that Trump is an ignorant nutcase from the beginning. And since he won’t shut up and go away, I don’t see any reason why I should.

    Nor do I see him as “our” nominee. If Trump is the face of the Republican party, I’m not a Republican. So I’m free to criticize him all I wish without feeling any disloyalty.

    • #34
  5. Mister D Member
    Mister D
    @MisterD

    RightAngles:

    Painter Jean:Isn’t it a bit late to be running for the highest office in the country, with little experience

    Trump has less experience than this guy, and is unfit. Hillary has lots of experience, and is still unfit.

    It will just take away votes and land H in the Oval Office.

    Neither Trump or Hillary had my vote anyway. And if the GOP wanted to keep Hillary out of office, they ought not to have nominated such a repellant nutcase.

    But the GOP didn’t nominate him. Voters disgusted and betrayed by the GOP did, and he is their fault.

    And he is not (to my knowledge) running on the GOP ticket nor replacing Trump. Those who feel the need to support the properly nominated tangerine primate are able to do so. The rest of us can take a look at the man and decide whether we like the cut of his jib (whatever his jib may be).

    • #35
  6. Mister D Member
    Mister D
    @MisterD

    Vance Richards:And a vote for this guy is going to have a greater impact than just writing in M. Mouse or S. Claus because . . . ?

    ….because we don’t know M. Mouse and S. Claus’s positions. At least this gives our protest vote a little more focus.

    • #36
  7. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Mister D:

    Vance Richards:And a vote for this guy is going to have a greater impact than just writing in M. Mouse or S. Claus because . . . ?

    ….because we don’t know M. Mouse and S. Claus’s positions. At least this gives our protest vote a little more focus.

    S. Claus is clearly a socialist.

    • #37
  8. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Jamie Lockett:

    Mister D:

    Vance Richards:And a vote for this guy is going to have a greater impact than just writing in M. Mouse or S. Claus because . . . ?

    ….because we don’t know M. Mouse and S. Claus’s positions. At least this gives our protest vote a little more focus.

    S. Claus is clearly a socialist.

    Well, I’d argue he’s a plantation owner. He uses slave labor (the elves) to create luxury goods (toys) to deliver to customers (the children) for a reward (milk and cookies) that he doesn’t share with his labor force (the elves).

    • #38
  9. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Austin Murrey:

    Jamie Lockett:

    Mister D:

    Vance Richards:And a vote for this guy is going to have a greater impact than just writing in M. Mouse or S. Claus because . . . ?

    ….because we don’t know M. Mouse and S. Claus’s positions. At least this gives our protest vote a little more focus.

    S. Claus is clearly a socialist.

    Well, I’d argue he’s a plantation owner. He uses slave labor (the elves) to create luxury goods (toys) to deliver to customers (the children) for a reward (milk and cookies) that he doesn’t share with his labor force (the elves).

    As long as I am getting free toys, I don’t care how he gets it done.

    • #39
  10. Painter Jean Member
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Well, I’d argue he’s a plantation owner. He uses slave labor (the elves) to create luxury goods (toys) to deliver to customers (the children) for a reward (milk and cookies) that he doesn’t share with his labor force (the elves).

    Well, at least he has some standards. I mean, bad little boys and girls don’t get toys, good little boys and girls do. He’s rewarding virtue and punishing bad behavior. We could use him in the Justice Department right now.

    • #40
  11. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    Trump is going to lose in November and lose big.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he dropped out in October when his poll numbers don’t improve and the GOP has no hope of recovery.  Evan McMullin isn’t going to hurt Trump’s chances of getting elected – Trump is doing a splendid job of that himself.  Those of you who think Trump still has a chance can cling to your false hope for the next 3 months but don’t you dare blame the never Trumpers or Evan McMullin.

    I for one will be happy to enthusiastically pull the lever for Mr McMullin if he makes the MN ballot.  It won’t keep Hillary from being elected but neither will voting for train wreck Trump.

    • #41
  12. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    RightAngles:It’s a day late and a dollar short. The only possible aim could be to help Hillary. And I find this on the Main Feed? Please.

    Yep. Because I want every single person who voted for Trump in the primary–precious few of them on Ricochet, as I’m aware–to know that we shouldn’t nominate unqualified candidates.

    Doing so only helps the opposition, as we’re about to learn.

    Punishing the Trump supporters this way is sort of like making a kid who burns the house down sleep outside for a year. Yeah, you have the inconvenience of finding a new house. But at least you have the satisfaction of teaching someone a lesson.

    • #42
  13. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:

    RightAngles:It’s a day late and a dollar short. The only possible aim could be to help Hillary. And I find this on the Main Feed? Please.

    Yep. Because I want every single person who voted for Trump in the primary–precious few of them on Ricochet, as I’m aware–to know that we shouldn’t nominate unqualified candidates.

    Doing so only helps the opposition, as we’re about to learn.

    Punishing the Trump supporters this way is sort of like making a kid who burns the house down sleep outside for a year. Yeah, you have the inconvenience of finding a new house. But at least you have the satisfaction of teaching someone a lesson.

    I’m curious. Did you agree with all of the actions of the RNC in the 2014 Senate race in Mississippi? A young Chris McDaniel had his legs cut off by his own party even though he would have coasted to a win in the General. Why?

    • #43
  14. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    Columbo:

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:

    RightAngles:It’s a day late and a dollar short. The only possible aim could be to help Hillary. And I find this on the Main Feed? Please.

    Yep. Because I want every single person who voted for Trump in the primary–precious few of them on Ricochet, as I’m aware–to know that we shouldn’t nominate unqualified candidates.

    Doing so only helps the opposition, as we’re about to learn.

    Punishing the Trump supporters this way is sort of like making a kid who burns the house down sleep outside for a year. Yeah, you have the inconvenience of finding a new house. But at least you have the satisfaction of teaching someone a lesson.

    I’m curious. Did you agree with all of the actions of the RNC in the 2014 Senate race in Mississippi? A young Chris McDaniel had his legs cut off by his own party even though he would have coasted to a win in the General. Why?

    I don’t follow politics enough to be familiar with this case. What parallels do you see between Chris McDaniel and Trump?

    Did McDaniel regularly make statements that made many people–rightly or wrongly–think he was unfit for office? Did he campaign poorly? Did polls consistently show him behind his opponent? Did he refuse to take the advice of others who were trying to help him win?

    • #44
  15. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:

    RightAngles:It’s a day late and a dollar short. The only possible aim could be to help Hillary. And I find this on the Main Feed? Please.

    Yep. Because I want every single person who voted for Trump in the primary–precious few of them on Ricochet, as I’m aware–to know that we shouldn’t nominate unqualified candidates.

    Doing so only helps the opposition, as we’re about to learn.

    Punishing the Trump supporters this way is sort of like making a kid who burns the house down sleep outside for a year. Yeah, you have the inconvenience of finding a new house. But at least you have the satisfaction of teaching someone a lesson.

    You think the Trump supporters are who you’re punishing??! Wow, I sure hope your satisfaction lasts through the Supreme Court being stacked with Lesbians and Transgender Muslims. And hey, maybe Justice Barack Obama.

    • #45
  16. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    RightAngles:

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:

    RightAngles:It’s a day late and a dollar short. The only possible aim could be to help Hillary. And I find this on the Main Feed? Please.

    Yep. Because I want every single person who voted for Trump in the primary–precious few of them on Ricochet, as I’m aware–to know that we shouldn’t nominate unqualified candidates.

    Doing so only helps the opposition, as we’re about to learn.

    Punishing the Trump supporters this way is sort of like making a kid who burns the house down sleep outside for a year. Yeah, you have the inconvenience of finding a new house. But at least you have the satisfaction of teaching someone a lesson.

    You think the Trump supporters are who you’re punishing??! Wow, I sure hope your satisfaction lasts through the Supreme Court being stacked with Lesbians and Transgender Muslims. And hey, maybe Justice Barack Obama.

    I think you’ve misunderstood my analogy. The point is that those who voted for Trump in the primary are to blame for “the Supreme Court being stacked with …”.

    Yes, I have to deal with the burned down house–the stacked Supreme Court–myself. But I’ll survive.  I think a lot of Trump’s supporters are in more difficult financial situations.

    Put another way, the house is burning nicely. Nothing I can do about that.

    • #46
  17. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:I don’t follow politics enough to be familiar with this case. What parallels do you see between Chris McDaniel and Trump?

    Did McDaniel regularly make statements that made many people–rightly or wrongly–think he was unfit for office? Did he campaign poorly? Did polls consistently show him behind his opponent? Did he refuse to take the advice of others who were trying to help him win?

    Chris McDaniel is a young promising politician from the very conservative state of Mississippi. He campaigned well, took advice and was very fit for office. He would have won hands down. He was viewed by Mitch McConnell as another young firebrand of limited government who would likely form a bond with the likes of Cruz, Lee and Paul in the Senate, so he must be defeated.  Thad Cochran had indicated he wanted to retire but McConnell forced him to run for re-election with the sole purpose of fighting the Ted Cruz wing of the Senate … McConnell: we’ll crush them everywhere.

    What does this have to do with Donald Trump you ask. Chris McDaniel was treated as a pariah by the GOP Party apparatus, just like they’ve treated Donald Trump. And only for wanting to be a part of a limited government movement in the U.S. Senate that McConnell opposed. Trump may deserve his treatment but McDaniel did not.

    Trump is McConnell’s chickens coming home to roost for declaring war on his Party’s base.

    • #47
  18. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Columbo:

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:I don’t follow politics enough to be familiar with this case. What parallels do you see between Chris McDaniel and Trump?

    Did McDaniel regularly make statements that made many people–rightly or wrongly–think he was unfit for office? Did he campaign poorly? Did polls consistently show him behind his opponent? Did he refuse to take the advice of others who were trying to help him win?

    Chris McDaniel is a young promising politician from the very conservative state of Mississippi. He campaigned well, took advice and was very fit for office. He would have won hands down. He was viewed by Mitch McConnell as another young firebrand of limited government who would likely form a bond with the likes of Cruz, Lee and Paul in the Senate, so he must be defeated. Thad Cochran had indicated he wanted to retire but McConnell forced him to run for re-election with the sole purpose of fighting the Ted Cruz wing of the Senate … McConnell: we’ll crush them everywhere.

    What does this have to do with Donald Trump you ask. Chris McDaniel was treated as a pariah by the GOP Party apparatus, just like they’ve treated Donald Trump. And only for wanting to be a part of a limited government movement in the U.S. Senate that McConnell opposed. Trump may deserve his treatment but McDaniel did not.

    Trump is McConnell’s chickens coming home to roost for declaring war on his Party’s base.

    I don’t understand the logic here. This might very well be he reason that someone like you is a Trump supporter, but the vast majority of Americans don’t pay attention to that kind of off-year politicking. Furthermore, evidence shows that Trumps primary support came less from “base” voters who tended to support Cruz, than it did crossover blue dog democrats and newer voters.  The logic and the evidence doesn’t support this as a reaction to Thad Cochran.

    • #48
  19. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Jamie Lockett:I don’t understand the logic here. This might very well be he reason that someone like you is a Trump supporter, but the vast majority of Americans don’t pay attention to that kind of off-year politicking. Furthermore, evidence shows that Trumps primary support came less from “base” voters who tended to support Cruz, than it did crossover blue dog democrats and newer voters. The logic and the evidence doesn’t support this as a reaction to Thad Cochran.

    We each have a very different perspective and viewpoint on where we are and how we got here.

    I’ll just expand on my thinking (logic?) solely for the purpose to hopefully explain how I see it. I do believe that Trump is a product of many parts and that they are indeed connected.

    The GOP “base” has grown very frustrated with its leadership over the years. Victories were won in 2012 and 2014 on promises to push back against the 0bama agenda. The GOP leadership did not push back as promised and gave plenty of evidence for their voters to think they were all talk and no action. Ted Cruz voiced this and he and McConnell were enemies.

    This came to a head in 2014 where McConnell declared war on the “Cruz conservatives”. He was going to punch them in the nose and crush them everywhere. It was clear that McConnell could fight, but only against limited government conservatives of his own Party. [to be continued]

    • #49
  20. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    The worst case of this fight was in Mississippi. A young promising state Senator, Chris McDaniel (42 at the time) announced that he would run for the US Senate seat of Thad Cochran (77 at the time). Cochran had indicated that he wanted to retire but he was goaded into running for re-election by McConnell’s forces. It was considered to be a marquee Establishment vs. Tea Party contest. After losing in the initial primary, Cochran won a hotly contested run-off by buying crossover democrat votes. Why did the GOP want a 77 year old six-term Senator who displayed confusion throughout the campaign?

    The 2016 GOP POTUS Primary picked up where this battleground left off. The logical (and loudest) Tea Party candidate was clearly Ted Cruz who had been engaged in this battle since he arrived in the Senate. The Establishment candidate was clearly Jeb Bush. Everything else was noise, but it was plentiful and loud. Ignoring Gilmore and Pataki, there were 15 participants in the clusterf***.

    Tea Party: Cruz, Walker, Rubio, Paul, Jindal, Perry, Santorum, Huckabee

    Establishment: Bush, Graham, Christie, Kasich, Fiorina

    Outsider (most resembling Tea Party/Change): Trump, Carson

    Also clearly, many who threw their hats into this 3-ring circus had no chance whatsoever and were likely only in the race to splinter votes away from the leading Tea Party candidate. Jeb!’s team most likely funded these diversions. Long story short … Jeb!’s strategy both worked and backfired … Big Time! Yuuuge!

    • #50
  21. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Bottom line … more GOP primary voters, including a large part of the GOP base as well as the new voters and crossover dems, wanted either the “Tea Party” or “Change” candidate than those who wanted more of the same old, same old McConnell/Boehner Kabuki Theatre.

    • #51
  22. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    Columbo:Bottom line … more GOP primary voters, including a large part of the GOP base as well as the new voters and crossover dems, wanted either the “Tea Party” or “Change” candidate than those who wanted more of the same old, same old McConnell/Boehner Kabuki Theatre.

    I understand this. And I’m unhappy with McBoehnel as well. But reacting in anger by supporting Trump–who had none of the conservative credentials of someone like McDaniel–is not the answer. A lot of people don’t understand what they’re getting into when they throw a punch.

    I think people who discuss this election are conflating what’s understandable with what’s correct. You could say it’s understandable that a woman with an abusive father marries an abusive man. But that doesn’t make her decision correct.

    And just to extend the metaphor, if a friend of mine marries an abusive man, I’m under no obligation to support the relationship simply because he’s now “her husband.”

    • #52
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