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If you believe Donald Trump represents the best available means to save the republic from the Left, then you should vote for him. There’s no shortage of good, intelligent, and wise people who’ve come to that judgment and Clinton is sufficiently awful that I can’t, in good conscience, say I know you’re wrong.
However, if you believe Donald Trump’s judgement, character, and policy positions make him an unacceptably poor candidate for the presidency — as, indeed, I do — then I suggest you not accept him. The Republican Party is not entitled to our votes, and signaling that we’re willing to accept anyone with a “R” after his name is an invitation to be ignored and taken for granted. Especially for those in deep-red or deep-blue states, there are prudential reasons for telling the GOP that it failed to earn our votes and to get stuffed until it learns the lesson. There is no clearer way to send that message than to vote for Evan McMullin.
Why not Gary Johnson? To begin with, I believe libertarians and conservatives are best served by working together and — even with the state the GOP is in today — I’ve little reason to think the Libertarian Party is the best vessel for classical liberal ends. More specifically, Johnson’s cluelessness on foreign policy and his 180-degrees-from-right position on freedom of conscience (among other things) make him particularly ill-suited as a protest vote. I don’t often get to say this, but I expect better of the Libertarian Party. As a man without a party, running in response to a specific situation, McMullin does not pose the same risk an emboldened Libertarian Party does.
I’m not particularly excited to vote for McMullin, whose campaign still reeks of the NeverTrump desperation from which — after several miscarriages — it eventually spawned. And whether it’s an affect or a genuine part of his character, I find McMullin’s tendency to come off as an apple-polishing teacher’s pet deeply grating. However, McMullin’s resume is impressive and honorable; his positions on foreign policy are solid; and a former CIA spook who appears to think Americans are the best guardians of their security and privacy is, frankly, bracing.
Remind the GOP that, if expects your vote, you expect a minimally competent and honorable candidate. Vote McMullin.